The Journey to Ring in the New Year – The Holidays Day 13

I got up this morning in a new house in a new state starting a new year. The remains of last night’s festivities were strewn out on the countertops and the floor. As I sipped my coffee I was able to reflect on how I made it to this place last night, and how I was lucky to be with such a festive group as I rang in the new year. There were many times yesterday when I did not think it would have happened.

It reminded me a little of Planes, Trains and Automobiles as we tried to figure out how to get all the way down to Castle Rock and the party before the clock struck midnight. It started off with getting booted from the original flight that we were supposed to take, and having to wait around the Redmond airport until the next flight into Denver at 3:13 that same day. I was a little worried about the flight leaving because there were reports of snow and rough conditions coming from Colorado, but there were no problems with the flight or the landing. In fact, the in-air experience went rather smoothly. When we landed, things changed. The airport was crowded with people trying to get to different destination and trying to get their baggage. When we finally found our baggage claim carousel, it was packed with people because there were 13 flights all waiting for their bags at the same spot. It took a little while, and it was still only 8:00. We had plenty of time to make it to that party.

But we still had to find a way to get all the way through Denver to the southern town of Castle Rock. Our original ride could not pick us up that late, and we had to find another form of transportation. A cab ride all the way down there was close to $75, so we looked into a rental car. Priceline.com is a great resource for this, especially if you are looking into it on short notice. We were able to get a good car, a Kia, for a reasonable price for the next week and from a reputable company, Hertz. If we had booked it earlier, we might not have been so lucky. We went and got our car and took a slow drive down south through the snow, dodging cars and trucks driving way too fast to make it to the party.

We were greeted by my family as they were already in full swing. It was a great way to get back together with everybody all at once. And we were there three hours before they showed the ball dropping again from our part of the world. Despite all of the little road blocks we met along the way, we were able to make quick compromises to solve the problems that we encountered. I guess this is the true sign of a world traveler because things will not always go as expected, especially during this time of the year when you are forced to contend with crowds, and weather. The fight was tough, but it was completely worth it to see my family again and enjoy signing off on 2018. It makes me confident that the troubles we will see in the next year will be nothing, and whatever problem comes out way, we will be able to handle it with ease.

I hope your solutions to your problems are as simple in the coming year as well. Happy New Year!

 

Another Satisfied United Customer – The Holidays Day 12

I used to work at the Smoking Lounge at the Denver International Airport. The money was good, and it served a purpose, but it made me realize how terrible air travel actually is. I used to think of airports as this magical place that would whisk people away to various destinations, so everybody should be happy when they visited them. But when I started to work in the airport, I met a lot of unhappy people. Now I do have to keep things in perspective. I worked in the only place in the airport where people could have a cigarette, and we had a one drink minimum at the place. If you want to piss off a smoker who has not had one during a long international flight really quick, just tell them that they have pay in order to get that fix.

But in all fairness, they were not always complaining about their inability to feed their addiction. Many of these people came in with complaints about their airline, United. There were many times where people were bumped from their flights because the company overbooked, and they did not really care about it either. Why should they? It wasn’t their problem.

I do remember coming in to the airport for work and coming in the east entrance because this was the place that had the better parking spots. It was also the side that United did their checkins. It didn’t matter what time I would come in for my shift, there was always a long line of passengers waiting to get on their flight, and only a couple of people working the counter to help all of these people. I could see how some of the frustration that people experienced with this company came from that as well.

I never gave it much attention because I worked on concourse B which was controlled by United so I just believed that I heard all of the complaints from this company because of location. If I worked on one of the other concourses, I would hear complaints about Frontier or Delta. It wasn’t until I got to experience the happy people who work for this company that I started to realize that the complaints that people made were true. I was yelled at in the long line I had to wait through to check my bags. I barely made it to my gate because of the slow way the moved people through that line. And when I got there, they delayed the flight until they could find somebody to give up their seat because they once again overbooked.

I got to enjoy the wonderful customer service that United Airlines has once again this morning. I am stuck in the Redmond Airport right now because they would not let us get through security to get on our plane. I had to stand in a line for forty five minutes that was only twenty people long as they had to deal with individual customers for ten minutes at a time. Premier Access customers were allowed to cut in line for flights that were not leaving for another hour so they could slow down the two employees even more. We had another ten minutes before they were officially boarding but we were denied as well as ten other passengers behind us going on the same flight. There was a group of dissatisfied customers who are stuck in Redmond for another night because they could not accommodate their customers. And the attitude I got from the employees was, I don’t care because I am getting paid.

Now this might come across as a person who is mad because they missed their flight, but according to J.D. Power and Associates’ survey from May of this year, Unites Airlines ranks the lowest out of any airlines in customer satisfaction. I knew this before I flew because this was where they have ranked when I worked at the airport so many years ago, and through a series of filing for bankruptcy over the years, they have done nothing to improve this rating. It makes me wonder how this company is still in business. It is just another company that I will avoid in the future because of days like this.

An Air Travel Love Song

Make sure you get you place in the herd’s line
‘Cause there are places we need to take you.
We will plop some slop on a plate to dine,
So make sure to obey your cabin crew.
Take your seat in that tiny, little box,
And you do not have the right to complain.
Get some shut eye as the plane gently rocks,
But no one gets sleep that they can sustain.
If you feel you deserve entertainment,
Open the shade and look out your window.
Being so high, you will wish to repent,
So you don’t end up in the place down below.
There’s nothing like modern transportation,
A happy way to your destination.

The Last Leg – Around the World Day 45

I haven’t gotten into all of the lines yet or shuffled my bags from one plane to the next. That is what today is for. I am going to complete my voyage around the world today, and the only thing left for me is the long flight home. I am not a fan of airports, or planes, or air travel in general. Airlines sit you in tight spots and shuttle you around like cattle all so you can eat bad food, and land feeling like you have spent the last twenty-four hours running a race that never ends even though all you ever have done is sit in a seat. I am aware of the fact that it is the quickest way to get from one point to another so I should not really complain about it. If it wasn’t for air travel I wouldn’t have been able to see all of the things that I was able to see this summer, and for that I am grateful, but there is a different feeling about getting on that last plane then there was about getting on that first plane.

The trip is now coming to an end, and the adventures are all in the book as opposed to just beginning and the mystery of the trip still ahead of me. I will have to get back to doing work on a regular basis again as opposed to relaxing during the day and looking for some fun way for engagement some time throughout the day. It is the knowledge of this that makes that last flight a bitter pill to swallow.

But there are all the memories I created on the way to keep me company, and the fact that I got to visit people I love along the way. It was great to spend time in the United States again, and to see a part of the world that I had never experienced. I am also getting tired of living out of a suitcase all of the time, and there is a different feeling of being in your own home, living life according to your rules instead of trying not to step on the feelings of those who have been kind enough to share their homes with you during the time you were in their part of the world. In those cases, I am happy to be taking that last flight. It will also feel nice to be doing something that is more important than supporting the local economy by being a tourist, and in that case, I am ready to get back to work.

So, I guess it is time to say goodbye. Thank you for all of the people that shared their homes and their lives with us while in America, and thank you for all of the people that made our experience in Europe such a memorable one, but it is time to take that final step onto my final leg back home.

Thanks.