Wednesday, February 26, 2003

On the road again...

I’m en route to San Francisco, where I’m speaking at the CIO Forum. And instead of leaving SF and returning next week ( for the LMA Annaul Conference), I brought the family with me and we’re staying in town until next weekend.

Of course, by the time this post hits the Net I’ll have arrived in San Francisco and things will be much calmer than they were about an hour ago. We left the house late – seemingly a routine when traveling with the kids. But the fun hadn’t even started. We got to the airport – late, but with enough time to board the plane. Then we hit our first glitch – the bags were too heavy. Fortunately Robin had packed an extra duffel bag (definitely a detail that would never occur to me) – so we were able to unload from the two bags into a third – and make it under the weight limit. Since the net weight is the same, why bother? (I really don’t know the answer to that question – there’s four of us traveling, which means we’re allowed up to 400 pounds. We only packed 120 pounds – so where’s the harm?

Anyway, it’s at this point that the skycap (who is a TSA employee) points out that my youngest son’s ticket is a paper ticket. I knew that, but somehow when I scooped up everything from the travel agent on my way home from work last night, the ticket was not in the packet of stuff I picked up. “Just go to the executive platinum desk – they’ll help you.” It’s 2:07pm. The plane leaves in 46 minutes.

Back in the car, park in the parking garage. Load up the bags, the two car seats, the briefcase and head for the platinum desk. We were blessed to get Randall, who’s been with American since (and this is a guess) the Wright brothers made their inaugural journey in Kitty Hawk. Randall, who had absolutely no sense of urgency about our plight (it was now 2:20) proceeded to try and help us. I sent Robin and my oldest son through security, and told them to meet us at the gate; I stayed with Robby (whose ticket was at issue) at the counter.

Ten minutes later, I asked Randall how long we would be. “As long as it takes.”

Trying to be helpful (honestly – I was convinced we were missing the flight), I asked Randall whether we should just try and book on the next flight. “Well, no guarantees. It will be tight.” Randall’s a font of useful information. Advice to any other exec. platinum members out there – if you get to O’Hare and Randall’s at the desk, cancel your trip. You’ll save yourself a good ten points on the blood pressure meter and you’ll have a lot more time to drink.

So at 2:35 (18 minutes to take-off), Randall freed us. I got in line at security, all but disrobed, got Robby out of his stroller, folded the stroller, and, sure enough, the scanner beeped. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve endured a pat -down from a neighborly TSA guard while holding an 11 month old who hasn’t had a nap.

So I got farther with the TSA guy than I did on most dates in junior high, then sprinted to the gate. Now it gets really fun – load up the briefcase, the carry-on, my wife’s purse, the DVD player, the two car seats and you’re off. Uh, actually, you need to carry the kids too.

And the looks on the faces of everyone else in business class? Priceless when we showed up, looking like a bunch of bag people carting our life’s possessions. (Somehow, telling them that this wasn’t everything we’d packed didn’t seem like it would make life any better.

(For the record, we boarded the plane at 2:48.)

I don’t know why more people don’t do this.

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