Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Inspired by a travel sob story posted by Liz over at Gingers Is The Watchword, I thought I'd unearth something I wrote last year about a trip I tried to take on the Thursday before Labor Day weekend...

I'm sitting on the floor at LAX. It's 6pm, my leg is asleep and my ass hurts. But it's 6pm, WWW. Weren't you to depart at 1pm? And wait, weren't you flying out of Burbank? Yes, yes and God yes.

I was picked up for my 1pm flight at 11am this morning. When I arrived at the Burbank airport, they were already trying to get people to volunteer to get off my flight. Not a good sign. Because it is so brutally hot here (101), they had to lower the weight on the plane because apparently in the heat, fuel burns faster. Or something. I don't know, my expertise is not in chemistry, thermodynamics or airline policymaking. WWW, how many people did they need to get off the plane? Two? Five? Alas, dear reader, it was THIRTY-NINE. That is not a typo. I don't make typos, but that is a topic for another entry altogether. The gate people said that the flight would not leave until they got enough volunteers. I just knew that if I tried to wait it out that there would be an hour of passengers eyeing each other suspiciously and playing chicken, waiting to see who gives in. I had a connecting flight to make, and I could see the writing on the wall. So I decided to cut a deal before everyone else did.

What kind of a deal did you get, WWW? Well, the same kind of deal you make with a tow truck driver when your car breaks down in the town where they shot Deliverance. Instead of 1pm, I am now departing at 11:30pm. Instead of 1am, I am now getting in at 9:55am. The only winner here is my father, who is picking me up. Oh, and I almost forgot the best part. - I'm departing from ANOTHER AIRPORT. (Yes, I got a $300 voucher but I'm pissed and on a roll, so don't even think about trying to stop me.) When I and the other refugees from my flight were herded onto a shuttle bus for the one hour ride to LAX, it was 2pm (an hour past the original departure time) and they still needed to pull 13 people off of that flight before it could take off. I can't say for sure exactly what was transpiring with the angry, flightless and heat stroked people inside that plane, but I bet it could have inspired a young adult novel called Lord of the Skies. Poor Piggy. The Bus That Time Forgot arrived at LAX about 3pm, dropping me off a full 8 1/2 hours before my flight. On the bright side, that was early enough that I probably had a 75% chance to get through security in time to make my plane. In an incongruous stroke of good luck, I managed to get through the gauntlet without being disemboweled and by 3:30 I hell again. Hell in the anthropomorphized form of a woman named Helene.

Helene is a fiftyish woman who was next to me in line at Burbank while we were both cutting our deals. We wound up on the shuttle together and she insisted on talking to me. To be fair, she was nice enough. We had something in common as we work in different areas of the film business. Helene makes wigs. When we arrived at LAX, I helped her with her bag and tipped the driver for both of us since she had no cash handy. She insisted on making it up to me by buying me a drink at the airport. Since I couldn't possibly think of anything I wanted more in the world than a drink and I was on the spot, I said yes. We wound up in Chili's and as soon as we sat down her cell phone started ringing. And didn't stop until we got the check. Apparently Mary J. Blige needed a wig like pronto and Helene's shop was closing up for the holiday weekend. So she took and made approximately 15 loud calls during the 30 minutes we were at the bar. No joke. If I thought I could do it without her seeing I would have made the universal “I'm so sorry, I don't really know her” shrug to the family seated next to us and to the waiter. Mercifully, Helene's flight was leaving at 4:45, so she made a quick exit. In departing, she told me I should come to her wig shop to check it out so I could keep her in mind the next time one of my movies needs a wig. I told her that I would be sure to do that when I wanted to die painfully and there wasn't a melon baller or a pair of pliers within arm's reach. Okay, so I didn't, but that's what I would have said if I were cool.

I made one last anguished cry for relief by pleading with the American Airlines customer service rep to give me a complimentary day pass to the Admirals Club. After all, I was bumped 10 hours and one airport through no fault of my own. I had the same success I would have had if I’d asked them to wipe my ass with a cashmere pashmina. In other words, they said no. I have always wondered what goes on in those Admirals Clubs. I envision a grown-up frat party, the airline version of Caligula's palace. Champagne fountains, masseuses, dodo egg omelettes, a live string quartet, and giggly blondes bouncing on the laps of guys with loosened ties and pilot's hats. And for some reason, it’s always 1963. I probably shouldn't actually visit one, because they're bound to pale in comparison.

I'm sitting on the floor at LAX. It's 7pm, my other leg is asleep, and my ass hurts. And in sixteen hours, I'll be home.

10 metawords:

Gwen said...

Ugh! When travel goes bad, it's horrible. I once spent three days in Dallas because of a storm and without my luggage.

Red said...

The Admirals Club is totally like a naughty version of Mad Men.

Falwless said...

tl; dr

(too long; didn't read)

Dr Zibbs said...

Great story. I should tell some of my travel stories.

Anonymous said...

Ugh. I guess I can't call you UBP anymore. That's OK. WWW is much easier!

The Imaginary Reviewer said...

Christ, that sounds bad. Remember when flight companies didn't treat customers like an inconvenience? No, me neither.

Fancy Schmancy said...

This is one of the main reasons I hate flying! I'd rather got someplace I can drive to. Big metal birds in the sky just ain't natural, yo.

Some Guy said...

Leave it to Mary J. Blige to ruin a free drink at Chili's.

ÄsK AliCë said...

I wish it was 1963 and women wore gloves and fancy hats to travel on planes, and there were lounges ON the planes where everyone smoked, drank, laughed and regaled each other with hilarious anecdotes.

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