Thursday, September 09, 2004

Planes, trains, and automobiles. Or, They were *this* close to a perfect trip and then totally screwed the pooch

Hello, hello, hello dear friends!! ADD is back on the beat after a wonderful trip, the details of which I will share in fits and starts over the coming days. First, though, I want to tell you about the last 12 hours or so. I left Kristin around 3:30 CDT yesterday in an airport shuttle, bound for O'Hare. Just before I left she said, "You'll have to tell me tomorrow how it went with Independence Air." K, are you sitting down?

The first 3/4 of the trip were great, actually. The shuttle to the airport was quick and efficient, as was my check-in at FlyI (you can actually check-in online--WORD--but to do so you have to print your own boarding pass and I had no access to a printer. But in future, I'm all up in that). I gave my one massive bag to be checked in, and then headed to my gate. I breezed through security, which was a suprise and a relief because I was flying on a one-way ticket, a potential red flag for trrra, blah blah. I hunkered down at my gate, got a lovely call from Christie which passed the time, boarded easily, and after a hilarious and altogether too pragmatic safety video starring none other than Dennis Miller (he's Fly I's spokesman, it would seem) I took off into the clear Chicago sky. The flight wasn't very full so we each got our own entire row to stretch out in, and hot towels (in coach!) to freshen up on approach. Props to my pilots (one of whom was a woman--YGG!) for a very smooth descent and landing at Dulles despite the fact that we totally flew through what is left of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Frances. OK, with me so far? Great flight, great airline, all systems go? Yeah....

We land, and are immediately put into a holding pattern for a gate. I don't know if that was Dulles' issue or Fly I's, but we sat on the tarmac for 25 minutes. And I had to pee. Once I disembark, I make my way to baggage claim where I wait. And wait. And miss the first Washington Flyer shuttle to the metro. And wait. And Wait. And miss the SECOND shuttle. Finally I and the other 3 people from my flight--not kidding--it was such a small and under-sold flight that only 4 of us had checked luggage--go to the Fly I office to discover that they *think* our luggage is on a later ORD-IAD flight. But they're not sure. #&!!!*#$$*!!&^%!$!! Or it could still be in Chicago. The killer thing was that as soon as we began to talk to them, they immediately forked over lost baggage forms: do not stop, do not pass go. As a matter of course. Bad sign. Once I filled all that junk out (and began to stress because my contact number is my cell phone and my phone charger is IN THE BAG THAT THEY HAVE) I headed for the LAST shuttle of the night, and got pretty drenched in the process. Fortunately after that things shaped up a bit...quick easy bus ride to West Falls Church and an orange line was pulling in just as I got there so no waiting for the metro. I walked in my front door at 11 pm EDT. Shorter than the 13-hour drive it took to get to Illinois in the first place, but....yeah.

Silver lining...I shut off my phone to save batteries while I slept, and awoke to 3 messages from the airline and the delivery service they use telling me they found my bag, and I've arranged to have it delivered to me at work today. I won't feel totally better until I have it in hand, but I'm optimistic. I lay there last night thinking of the clothes and toiletries and favorite jewelry in that bag and what a loss if I don't get it back. However, I did carry on with me the candies I bought for my office, so SAIS is gonna be all kindsa diabetic comatose later today.

My report card for Independence Air would give them somewhere in the B- range. I recommend them based on service, flight time, price, and availability, but suggest that you carry-on your every earthly possession if at all possible. Anne's Helpful Hint of the Day.

UPDATE: FlyI returned my bag to me at work around noon. I am restored to my hair dryer, Prescriptives, and jade necklace, none the worse for wear. Phew.


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