Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Perpetual State of Transit

The last leg of my Mexican adventure was pretty arduous. For prosperity sake - I’m going to start from the beginning and try to portray how grinding it was:

Things started to go wrong from the get-go. We tried to book seats on the same flight simultaneously on Expedia - when we fell victim to a pricing algorithm . I when bought mine for $330 - my gf immediately got a notification that the price had risen $90 odd dollars (while she was filling out the information). When she refreshed - it jumped even more - raising it to a couple hundred more.

Feeling this was ridiculous, we decided to hold off buying the ticket.  We hoped that letting it ‘cool off’ for a day, would bring the price down. Unfortunately - this was about the time the lower portion of the states experienced winter storm Sparta. Sparta was about to unleash a cluster fuck in the aviation world - thanks to Dallas’ inability to clear snow and ice. I propose that _all_ international airports that act as major hubs, regardless of location, have adequate provisions for snow/ice. It seems to happen once a year - you’d think we’d learn.

A day or two before my flight - we found a flight for my gf for around the same price - only it was 15hrs instead of 7hrs like mine was scheduled to be.

I remember saying something to the effect of “Sorry babe, I’d switch places with you if I could…I’m good at waiting”. Little did I know the gods were listening…

We debated what to do the last night in Mexico City. My flight was to leave at 6am (my gf’s was two hours later). The options were:
A) staying at a hotel at the airport
B) taxiing from our hostel
C) or catching the metro before it closed (12pm) and pulling an all-nighter.

We opted for c) - having pulled an all nighter on the way down, and it being the cheapest option.

We arrived at the airport around 11pm and found a table in the food court to set up shop. Timbit (gf) slept while I did some work.

While I worked, I did note one flight was cancelled. US Airways flight 1066 to Dallas TX - unlucky for them.

Them turned out to be me. For some reason, I thought my layover was in Phoenix. When we realized it was actually my flight was cancelled - we weren’t quite sure what to do. That late, everything was closed…and there were no clerks to help us sort it out. It would have to wait.

I logged into Expedia and found that they had been nice enough to automatically book a flight with American Airlines for 1:28pm. It only took me a couple of hours to realize it was 1:28pm the _following day_. This was about the same time Timbit had to check in. I waited in line to talk to a clerk while she did so (the plan was for her to take the main rucksack). The line moved incredibly slowly. I wasn’t even half  way when she had to leave me.

Kiss. Good luck.

The girl at the AA counter in Mexico City was great. After explaining I had nowhere to stay/nothing other than my laptop - she worked hard to find an alternate. The best she could do was a flight with AeroMexico to LAX, then a flight with what appeared to be Delta to YVR.

The AeroMexico flight was at 2pm - so I had some time to kill (around ~8hr)

I caught the flight without much problem…a couple hiccups converting the flight coupon to a boarding pass…but nothing I couldn’t blunder my way through.

I arrive a LAX and set out to find the Delta terminal. Luckily I as an official looking dude named Javier. He was very nice and called it in…turns out what appeared to be a Delta flight was Westjet (it was operated by Delta). Happy that quick question saved me a lot of time, I retraced my steps to the Westjet counter.

Well ahead of time. I check in with a girl named Natalie….or attempt to. Natalie informed me that the flight I was confirmed for was full. Something to do with the system (AA received the confirmation - but WJ did not).


Natalie then tried very hard to figure it out. When we realized there was no way I was getting on the flight - she called AA (who originally booked the ticket). AA said that they’d book me on a 6am flight and cover my hotel. All I needed to do was go to their terminal and sort out the deets.

I wander over to the AA terminal and wait in a growing line of unhappy people. AA had 4 people on….despite the fact one of their main hubs was offline and they needed to redirect hundreds of customers.

To this point - I’ve been pretty chill. I understand that the weather can’t be controlled and the clerks are doing their best to sort things out. In Mexico, some dude started to loose his shit while dealing with the clerk next to me. Inside, I wanted to tell him, that’s not the way to do it - gotta be nice.

So I tried to be super nice to every clerk I dealt with - and up to this point - it had worked beautifully. Until I stepped up to the AA counter in LAX.

The clerk waved me over, and I proceeded to explain the story above as best I could. She checks and in fact I am booked for a 6am flight - but there is no mention of the hotel. Finally it ends with us talking with her supervisor.

This is when I almost hulk out. The super visor was a stone cold bitch. She didn’t acknowledge I was there - instead, talked through her subordinate about me. I don’t care if you can’t do anything for a customer - that is not how it is done.

Not going to take no for an answer - I went back to JC, a clerk that I had seen dealing rather expertly with some unhappy customers while I was getting jerked around. JC did his best to help (or at least pretended to) and soothed the degrading feeling my encounter with his supervisor had left.

Looks like I had some more time to kill.

As a side note: If you are ever in this situation - make sure that your clock is set to local time - It’s depressing when you realize you have more hours to wait than you first thought.

I paced around LAX - cold - almost to the point of being really uncomfortable.

Finally. 4am rolls around. Again. Time to check in. The nice woman at Delta informed me that I needed my ticket (AA had neglected to give it to me - only an itinerary) - luckily she was nice and didn’t make me walk back to the AA terminal.

I must have looked pretty frazzled. At this point, I had only been able to sleep 2 hours in Mexico City (I couldn’t sleep alone as I had to watch my laptop/camera etc).

I finally board the Delta flight and make it back to Canada.

I arrive at my girlfriend’s apartment a disheveled, red eyed mess. I slept like the dead.

I ended up being awake for the majority of 54 hours We woke at 8:00am at the hostel the day before our flight. I slept for 2 hours the first night at the Mexico City airport, and about an 1 hour on each of my flights home).

The one perk out of all of this was that I got to try In and Out burger in LA (just outside the airport) - it was just what I needed...a multiple thousand calorie meal. :-)

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