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26 July 2010 @ 02:14 pm
Sequence of events  
Trying to get this all sorted in my head, before I write up a complaint letter.

3:30 - arrive San Diego "commuter terminal" - rinky dink, 4 gates.
Check in for AA/American Eagle 3082 5:00-5:45 San Diego -> LAX, and Alaska 463 8:00-10:32 LAX -> SEA
Slight luggage mic-up - Kat's suitcase get's Holly's tag, and vice versa.
Extremely thorough and slow security screening - seems like TSA is bored.
Gate 1 (of 4) is just the other side of the security screening.
I notice that our flight doesn't even show on the board.
Kat spots Anthony Steward Head in the waiting area. Her current theory is that flights we share with celebrities are doomed.

4:55 - Our flight still doesn't show on the board. Plane finally arrives near gate 1 minutes before departure, so we know our flight is going to be delayed, despite the lack of any announcement.

5:13 - We have boarded. Kat is just across the aisle and one seat forward of Mr. Head. Pilot, in the first use of the word "delay", in forms us that "there's a warning light we have to look up." Not to worry, the company in Dallas has called out a technician, who will likely be able to "reboot it" and make the warning go away. This instills much confidence.

5:36 - Dallas is unable to rouse technician, and the computer in Dallas says that the plane will be able to leave at 7:00 pm - although nobody here seems to understand the reason for that estimate.
We are deplaned back to the terminal, and hear the ridiculous PA announcement that American Eagle will try to send people to LAX by shuttle bus to make their connecting flights, so we all need to go back out (through the baggage claim) to the ticketing agents.

Now the real fun begins. The drive from San Diego to LAX takes two hours, on a good day. The last day of San Diego Comic Con is NOT a good day for that drive. If we take the bus, it leaves immediately, and we make EXCELLENT time to LA, we will get to the front doors of LAX right as our flight begins boarding. This is not going to work.

Everybody from flight AA3082 queues up for the ticketing agents, and wait. And wait. A few pieces of luggage are brought out, to a few people called out by name. The clueless ticketing agent takes half an hour to sort out the first man in line, who is willing to fly out tomorrow and just take a hotel voucher. In the meantime, Kat and I get our luggage, but Holly's never shows up, despite repeated assurances that "It's all on the other side fo that door, I'll go get it in a minute." No ticketing agent has a clue.

People with 7:30 connecting flights from LA -> Seattle are "back-stopped" to a 9:00 flight, and told by one of the ticketing agents to go out to the shuttle bus. When we ask her about those of us on the 8:00 flight, she looks at us for a moment, then shouts out that people on the 8:00 should "wait here", before scurrying back to the back room. Five minutes later, after the bus leaves, another ticketing agent insists that we were supposed to be on this bus.

I don't punch him.

I'm not going to trust any verbal promises from these people; I'm not leaving this desk without paperwork. I really expect that anybody who gets to LAX with just verbal promises will be screwed out of a flight home.

6:35 - we've been in the "ticketing" area for an hour, Holly's luggage still isn't here, but the "new plan" is to put us back on the plane and try to leave at seven. There seems to be One Guy in the airport with slightly over half a clue, and as far as we can tell he is the critical chokepoint for getting EVERY LITTLE THING done in this joke of an airport. He tells us that Holly's bag "probably" went out on the other commuter flight to LA that went out while we were waiting in ticketing (but it had no spare seats). He books us onto an 8:30 flight out of LAX ("this should work, as long as the plane leaves here no later than 7:15"), takes our luggage back, and wanders away - presumably to 15 other jobs at the airport. A few other mindless drones walk up and poke at the terminal when he's gone, with no visible or auditory handoff.

Eventually, the incompetent waste of flesh that previously told us we should be on the shuttle explains that he can't print out boarding passes for anybody but Kat, but he can give us a receipt. It's not good enough for TSA, but "as long as you don't go back through security..."

6:45 - trying to get back through security for the "7:00" departure, but the TSA guy (50 feet from where the whole debacle went down) has no clue, says that this isn't right, is deeply confused by our boarding-pass stubs, and wanders off to go get his questions answered. Holly and I start nervously joking that we'll be lucky to get through this without cavity searches. After a quick consultation from The Man With Half a Clue, the TSA promptly re-screens us.

7:00, and the plane hasn't boarded yet. Thinking our chances of leaving by 7:15 are slim-to-none, I wait at the ticketing-agent. Of course, she assiduously avoids the area until the plane is ready to board, 10 minutes later. Take-off was at 7:25.

7:55, touched down in L.A. Had to wait a little while, before we could be led into the gate. Kat and I had already looked up the LAX map, so we knew that we were at Terminal 4 (a tiny sattelite), and we needed to get to Terminal 3 (opposite end of the airport). There is no direct path between the two, so we had to take a shuttle.
The shuttle driver was confused by our half-empty plane (presumably, the other passengers were still on the shuttle bus from San Diego), and repeatedly said he was "told to expect 20". From where I was sitting, I offered him $20 if he left, NOW - which he ignored. Confusion eventually cleared, and he made the "10-minute drive" to the other end of the airport in 7 minutes.

Of course, we couldn't BOARD without BOARDING PASSES, so we had to get them printed at the gate. Fortunately, this was handled pretty quickly, although there was some shouting between the person trying to close the gate and the person printing our passes.

After all this, thefact that only Holly's luggage arrived in Seattle did not surprise us at all.
Her Holiness the Rev. Holly Z, KSCsharkcowsheep on July 26th, 2010 10:44 pm (UTC)
I was actually pretty damn surprised that my luggage showed up, especially what with it having Kat's name on it and all.
Lady Doomlithera on July 26th, 2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
Also, please keep in mind that the people on flight 3002 were never told that their flight wasn't cancelled as well. That's where the nice Aussie and Aaron Lopresti ran off to because they thought their flight was cancelled too because it was handled so poorly.
Her Holiness the Rev. Holly Z, KSCsharkcowsheep on July 27th, 2010 12:28 am (UTC)
I still wish I'd seen Aaron before he scuttled. They were boarding when he did, I hope everything went all right.
Lady Doomlithera on July 27th, 2010 12:30 am (UTC)
He was the guy in the Nebraska hat who was making the snarky comments the whole time.
Fireball of 3fireballof3 on July 27th, 2010 02:57 am (UTC)
Wow. That's epic lose & fail.
I think that trumps any other debacle I've experienced flying.