Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wild and Wooly

I headed out of San Miguel a week ago Saturday. I usually leave at 4AM to catch the 7AM flight to Houston and then on to Dulles but since this flight was booked with such short notice, I flew out at 3:35PM. I then, eventually arrived at Dulles at 11PM. Many wild, wooly and wacky experiences later.

Let me share them with you.

Leon, Mexico is a piece of cake for checking in and flying out of. Never a hassle or lines or rude behavior. Nothing in the check-in prepares you for the nuttiness of the Houston airport.

I'm usually flying Continental on their Jet Express service. Their planes are Embrauers. Something akin to a juice can with wings. This flight was the bumpiest of my life.........and I've flown tens of thousands of miles. I've even crash landed in a gopher field in Wyoming - but that's another story.

Anyway, there were mostly Mexicans on this leg of the journey. Their eyes were wide as we hit one air pocket after another. Needless to say, the flight was somewhat delayed. I had one hour and 20 minutes to get from the international terminal after going through US Customs and the security check where you shed everything possible, including your shoes. So, boy, I hightailed it out of that plane and smoothly made it through US Customs. Got the baggage to the right place for reloading on the next plane and then everything came to a virtual standstill. SECURITY. Eight rows of people - mostly returning from beach weeks in Mexico. All happy and sunburned. Not too upset about the lines unless they had a continuing flight to catch. Which many in line were trying to do - including me.

Eventually got through that - and was informed the sky train was not working. Therefore one had to go down and get on the train underground which was not considered a "secured" area. Can you imagine my irritation at the fact that upon arrived at Terminal B, those of us who had just gone through the eight lines for inspection, now had to go through that whole BS again? There must have been three hundred of us. One of the sunburned people I had met in the previous lines was right behind me trying to make a flight to Louisville. The woman was so tiny, but boy she had a big mouth! I, in my mind, named her "Chihuahua Lady" because she was making all kinds of verbal threats about contacting the US Transportation Dept, news media, the Mayor of Houston, etc.etc.etc. Her husband remained calm. I enjoyed just watching THAT interaction.

Earlier while attempting to traverse the train, I met a Continental agent who was my guardian angel and said she would attempt to help me make my connection. As I was stopped dead in my tracks at Terminal B to go through Security again, she waved and left me. I thought, "Well, that is that". But, in fact, we had talked about how it would be helpful if there was a cart near security that could whisk me to my gate....and also if the ticket agent at my gate knew I was coming.........they might wait for all of us. Boy, she was REALLY my guardian angel.

I had given up that I was going to make the connection as I stood in the line for Security. However, as I came out of the conveyor belt line, I looked up and there was a cart. Grabbing my shoes, my purse and my other stuff, I jumped on the cart and said, "Twenty bucks if you get me to my gate in time for the flight". Have you ever told a Mexican taxi driver to "hurry"? Well, the $20 had the same effect. We FLEW down the tunnel with her yelling and people leaping out of the way. (I'm not making this up) I was hanging on for dear life. In fact I didn't even have time to put my shoes on.

By golly, we arrived at the gate, the door was still open and I ran up with boarding pass in one hand and shoes in the other. The agent laughed. He said he had gotten a call that I was headed his way! I laughed, and smiled, and flew through the door of the plane - sat and exhaled.

Upon arrival at Dulles, I exhaled again. It took a couple of days to recuperate from that twelve hour adventure.

The underlying question is, why can't TSA get their act together? What a fiasco security is in this country.

And, the clincher is, that when I go to Houston the end of May for my granddaughter's graduation from high school, WE are driving..........won't that be fun? Less stressful, that's for sure!


Tancho said...

Get their act together? It is together! Just wait until the Gov runs the Health Industry.....( they should copy the IMSS which is at least workable)
Now you know why so many people refuse to fly nowadays. It is just too much hassle and too stressful.
THEY make it that way to show you that they are keeping the skies safe, meanwhile down in the baggage department 4 guys have the same social security number.
It will not get better, tell me one that that has in the last decade. Just remember of how nice it use to be, people were civil, didn't come on the plane looking like they had just run the NYC marathon, well maybe they did, between airport terminals.....Ever notice that YOUR connecting flight is always at the last gate at the end of the last terminal?
Then you factor in all the crap they give you about luggage, too big, too heavy...too much.....but at least they give us a cheap seat, so what if they ask you to wipe down the seat and head rest before you leave.
I applaud you for your adventure and your attitude, you are a better , more calm, traveler than I.

ccinha said...

You are tooooo funny, Babs. But, the airport scene is not funny. Thank you, Osama Bin Laden

Calypso said...

I gave up on flying about ten years ago - and I don't miss it. If I can't get there by ground transportation - I am NOT GOING!

Amiga - Your story supports my argument ;-)

Babs said...

Tancho - I actually worked for an airline back in the 70's and loved flying - not any more. It is a drudgery........AND airfares have gone up quite a bit in the last two months, to add insult to injury!
Well heck CCINHA, you gotta laugh or I would be like "Chihuahua lady" which was NOT a pretty sight. Calypso, now that I'm retired, driving sounds better and better.......if only the gas prices in the USA would go DOWN...

Michael Dickson said...

I have not been on an airplane in at least five years. Your yarn has steeled my resolve. I´ll never get on a plane to the United States again. If I fly anywhere, it will be somewhere in Latin America or Europe.

Pathetic situation.