Saturday, March 20, 2010


I already hate traveling. If it were up to me, I think that the vast majority of the time I’d stick with day trips near Denver. I hate traveling to the UK even more than moving around the US. The distance, time, and the customs hassles just annoy me.  Add in the time change and I wonder why I bother.

Last year when I went to visit the Red Gate offices, I got stuck in Chicago. I had to get a voucher for a hotel, stay the night, then get a late flight the next day to London. That sucked, and it ad me considering not going back. Today I left early, with icy roads after a snowstorm yesterday. The roads were not that bad, so I arrived early. About 10:15, with a 12:20 flight.

I can handle waiting. It’s nice not to be stressed and in a hurry when you travel. That’s important when you don’t even like traveling. I can handle the wait.

I had all my devices charged, so I sat down for an early lunch, and had a beer, thinking that I’d get tired and then be able to sleep on the flight from Dulles to Heathrow. Actually I had two, read a bit, and then headed down to B38, my gate.

I arrived, found the crowd I expected, and saw “Chicago O’Hare on the sign. Great, a gate change. I walked back to the departure board to find my new gate. I arrived to find my flight listed, with a nice yellow background on the time thay said “4:10”.

I’ve studied a lot of math, but I’m sure my 11 year old would know that was a problem. I had a 6:45pm departure out of Dulles for Heathrow, which is 2 hours ahead of Denver. Leaving Denver at 4:10 was a bad idea.

So I walked back and got it the customer service line. I also called United while I was waiting, only to be sitting on hold 15 minutes later when I got to the front of the line. The lady looked through flights and didn’t really leave my options. She said there was a 10:40am from Dulles tomorrow morning that she could book me on, but that was it. She gave me the reservation and then said that I had to stand there for 5 more minutes. She wasn’t sure this was an amenities flight, meaning that she didn’t know it the airline would pay for a hotel in DC.

Are you frickin kidding me? They might not pay for a hotel? I think there was literally steam coming out of my ears, but being a longtime customer service person she either didn’t notice, care, or was polite enough not to mention it. I could get a hotel, so I left before I said something to get myself arrested, which was tempting.

I walked back to the phone cubbies, yes, they still have pay phones in Denver. I sat down at one since it had an electrical outlet and called my wife to vent. I also plugged in since all my posting and complaining on my iPhone had drained half the battery. Tia looked for flights and found a couple later ones that she emailed. I then called United Customer Service from my spot, hoping to see what other options might be available.

I waited on hold, only about 12 minutes this time, and finally got someone. She had the flights Tia had found, but no economy seats. I inquired about upgrades, but she said “over a thousand” and so I didn’t bother. A couple hundred $$ and I would have sprung to get moving.

My two options here:

1) Leave at 4:10 for Dulles, try for an 11:10pm standby (unlikely), and then get a hotel (very likely) and take the 10:40am flight.


2) Go home, come back tomorrow for a 4:00 flight to Chicago. Then sit for a few hours and take an 11:50pm flight to Heathrow that would arrive at 11:40am in Heathrow.

Both suck. However I thought about them a bit. I was somewhat resigned to the first one, and there wa a chance (tiny) that I’d make it to London in the am and have a day to recover.

With the second option, I’d get to go home at least . Missing Mon at work wouldn’t bother me and wouldn’t be the end of the world, however I’d still have to go to Cambridge and get a hotel. Likely by the time I cleared customs and stuff, I’d be getting there at 2:30 or 3, exhausted still and trying to stay up. I’d then pack my things in the morning, go to work, and then train down to London to meet the rest of the family. That feels like a sucky couple of days.

The kicker for me was that I asked about my bag. If I took the trip tomorrow, it would be without my bag. It was in a container, and they weren’t unloading them. I’d be hoping it arrived in London tomorrow night and then sat in Heathrow overnight, intact, and hopefully there when I arrived at noon on Monday.

That seems like a really, really crappy roll of the dice. What are the odds it will truly make it to London? I don’t want to take those odds. I may or may not get it in DC, but I’ve dealt with that and can handle it. So now I’m heading to the airport, wondering what will happen the next 36 hours.

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