Monday, August 07, 2006

Sunday Bloody Sunday

I awoke Sunday morning at 9AM to the sounds of G-Rob and Otis stumbling in from a drunken –EV session of blackjack, lamenting the fact that I was leaving Vegas in only a few short hours.  Still, based on my poker experiences over the preceding few days, I still had that feeling of CouldDoNoWrong, having won over $2200 playing $1/$2 NL Hold ‘em.

After bidding adieu, I walked out of the Rio fully anticipating to take a cab back to the airport.  I had a free return trip for shuttle service but had failed to call the previous day for a reservation, so I thought that option wasn’t available to me.  But lo and behold, my shuttle was right there waiting for me.  As I left the revolving door separating the frigid cold of the casino from the blast furnace that is Nevada weather, my good fortune remained fully intact.

After a rather uneventful ride to McCarren, I wandered over to the American Airlines self-check terminal and swiped my credit card.  After a few seconds, my flight itinerary came up blank.  Odd.  I took out my Yahoo flight schedule and manually typed in the flight number.  Still nothing.  Mildly perplexed, I found an agent and asked her to help me get my boarding pass arranged.  She too could not find my information.

After looking at my Yahoo flight schedule printout, she said “That’s odd, I don’t think we even have a 12:35 flight today.”  Meanwhile, because my luck has been running so well, I simply figured they either changed the flight time or possibly the flight number and within a few short minutes, I’d be happily on my way.

She continued inspecting my printout then said, “Umm, do you realize that your return flight is not scheduled for August 6th?”

“Huh? Come again?”

“It says right here, return trip – Wednesday September 6th.”

Major malfunction.

Realizing that I had mis-clicked the month on the Yahoo travel reservation page, I was still holding onto the hope that this agent could still get me back home the same day.  However, after about ten minutes of furiously typing on her keypad, she said “The earliest I can confirm a seat for you back to Greenville is Tuesday August 8th.”

My personal How-Fucked-Am-I-Meter rose to “Mildly.”

My options were now somewhat limited.  I was at a minimum going to have to pay $100 to change my reservation and stay with American Airlines.  Getting on standby for the next available flight was a big gamble as the flight was already oversold with three standby’s previous to me.  I had to start looking at other airlines and live with the fact that I’d have to purchase a one-way ticket home.

At that point, staying two more days in Vegas was not feasible.  I was missing the family in a huge way and really had to get back to work on Monday.  I went to United first.  They could get me to Greenville for about $740.  Northwest was booked solid for the day.  I started to consider other options for higher flexibility like flying into Atlanta or Charlotte.  I knew Delta had a hub in Atlanta so I went there.  They had a 12:30 flight to Greenville for $710, but also a 10:50pm flight that would get me home Monday morning for only $385.  After some consideration, I felt that would be my best option.  I paid cash for my ticket and was about to leave the Delta reservation desk when the agent said, “Now that you have a ticket, I can try to get you on the 12:30 flight for just $25 more.”  “Book it,” I said.

It was 11:30 at that point, so catching the 12:30 flight might be difficult.  But the 9:17pm arrival time home was too appealing to turn down.  Off to the security check I went.  Let me say this, buying a one way ticket for same day travel combined with traveling alone and being male is the fast track to the anal probe line.  They checked everything, cell phone, iPod, underwear.  Everything.  I’m sure my underwear gave off some odd readings to their spectrometer, but apparently they don’t check for biohazards.

It wasn’t until after security that I checked my boarding pass information to see what my layover time would be in my connecting city of Cincinnati.  Let’s see, arrival time in Cincinnati is 7:28 then I take off again at 8pm to….huh, WHAT???!?!?!

My final destination read Greensboro.  North Carolina.

What.  The.  Fuck.

My personal How-Fucked-Am-I-Meter rose to “Gloriously.”

Panic set it.  I called home and asked how far away Greensboro was from Greenville.  I told my wife that there was a seriously good chance someone would need to pick me up there at 9:17pm because I had zero time to change flights in Vegas and zero time to change destinations once I got to Cincy.  Thankfully, my father-in-law agreed to drive the 180 miles northeast and be there for my arrival.  The only catch was that because I had such a short layover time, if my Vegas flight was late, I could miss my connecting flight there.  Thankfully, that did not happen.

So after two huge flight reservation blunders and one 3-hour drive down Route 85, I finally made it home at 12:30AM.  I gave my father-in-law $100 for his efforts and gas money and crashed hard.  But not after waking the minis and Mrs. for some much needed hugs and kisses.  While the poker playing on this trip was by far my best ever, the travel experience at the end of it was by far my worst ever.

Luck has its way of balancing out long term.

No comments: