A few weeks ago I had the week of delays, I had four segments on American Airlines from San Jose to Baltimore connecting in Dallas and return. Every segment was delayed from as short as one hour and up to two hours. In fact on the two hour delay I missed my connection in Dallas and had to get rebooked on the next available flight. This made my return home a 10 ½ hour trip instead of eight. Ouch. Being late is just the nature of business travel, you can’t fly 100 segments a year and expect to be on time on all of them, but to have four in a row just stinks. It makes travel just crappy sometimes, but hey that just the breaks I guess.
Well on my flight from Dallas to Baltimore, I had not been upgraded but had a great exit row seat in coach. American Airlines offers unlimited complimentary upgrades to its Executive Platinum members and they can clear as early as 100 hours out. In most cases for me, I’ve been lucky enough to clear at the 100 hour mark. For me the 100 hour mark is key if it doesn’t clear then it usually does for me. In this case I was SOL, and was fine with it. I had plenty of legroom, and was happy with my seat. But as luck would have it ½ way through boarding, I got a tap on my shoulder. I was so engrossed in a news story I jumped. I looked up and another traveler said I had been moved to a different seat. I was about to protest, I didn’t want to give up my amazing seat, but then she said here’s your ticket and a magical seat upgrade was what I had. Here was the problem the flight was 100% full, and late. This passenger needed my seat needed my overhead space and the space beneath my seat, oh and she needed me to move so she could sit down. I know first world problems right. I promise I’m not complaining, I mean who would think that I would be lucky enough to get upgraded most of the time, I never in my wildest dreams would think that I would ever get to travel in first class. I just can’t afford it.
Back to my story, I now had to move at some point and worse move my bags. Now when I travel I do my best to travel light, I have a regulation roll aboard suitcase and my Swiss Army laptop backpack. One easily fits in the overhead and the other under my seat. Besides the usual travel gear (clothing, toiletries, computer etc.) I also carry a small CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. It easily fits in my suitcase and I can usually fit in five days of work clothes into my bag too. Plus a second set of shoes. Yes in general I’ve become pretty adept at packing for work after 12 years of doing this. But get me on vacation and that’s another story. This trip unfortunately, I had one other item I needed to carry on this trip a DLP projector. It’s not huge but it’s bigger than a breadbox. I had two choices carry it and my backpack and check my suitcase, or make it fit. I chose option two, which meant I had to put my CPAP in my backpack, which made it a bit larger then in should be. My suitcase too was filled to the brim. The projector took up almost 40% of it and 4 days’ worth of clothes took up the balance. If I had had an agent that was really looking at carryon’s they would have made me do something. But in my case I lucked out. Yes I was one of THOSE passengers, that takes too much on a plane, have you traveled with one of those jerks before? Apparently on this trip I had, and it was me.
So now with my heavy bags in tow, and a tiny tin can with a tinier isle I had to move. This was ridiculous. I’m 6’ 260, with two bigger bags. Half the plane was trying to board and was past row 17 which I was blocking, it was a disaster. Thankfully the new seat owner and the person across from me were super cool. They let me stand on their leg space and put my bag in the other leg space. What a disaster. All I could do was say thank you over and over again to these kind people. All the while I’m schvitzing like crazy, not my finest hour. Finally I was able to move up, there was space for my bag and I had a chance to just relax. Yippee. Sure I could have checked my bag in the first place and had a much less stressful situation, but then I would have to wait for my bag on the other end and the amount of time extra that adds to a trip is just unacceptable to me. Let alone the few times I’ve had my bag sent to who knows where and I’m in I know where. It’s just not pleasant. Factor in if you do 50 trips a year and you check your bag each one, and it takes 20 minutes per trip to get your bag (I’m begin generous here), that’s 16 extra hour per year that I’m just waiting after a long trip. In May my family and I waited 35 minutes in SFO waiting for bags when we came back from Orlando, which seems more the norm when we have to check bags.
Not much else I can say here, except be flexible, know that air travel can and is frustrating and you just need to take it as it comes. Most of the time all is good and on the occasion where you have four delays in a row and get to your hotel at 2 AM instead of 11 PM, just know that on some other trio you get in early or get that battlefield upgrade. And if you get stuck next to someone with a ton of bags, I promise it’s not me.