Friday, July 18, 2008

For those that dare...

So I arrived home from LA on Tuesday and by Thursday I was en route to the airport again. This time I was going to Hawai'i. Nice, everyone chorused. Of course, it is nice... but let me vent a little bit about traveling for work.

I arrived at the airport a little bit earlier than I would normally arrive because I had an errand to run which actually took less time than I estimated. All good, meant that I could eat lunch at the airport. I also noticed that my flight was delayed by 50mins. No big deal. So I had an eggs benedict which tasted of chemicals and nothing remotely of food.

The delayed flight was due off at 5:30 so we all clustered around the gate at about 4:45. The incoming plane arrived and disgorged it's people out in to the terminal. Then things all started going wrong. The words 'equipment failure' are never a good thing at an airport. It means the plane is defective and cannot fly. Now, of course, I'd rather they fix these things before I get onboard but they rarely seem to get an aircraft fixed that way. They said, somewhat ominously, 'we'll make a decision at 6'. Make a decision? What kind of decision?? "Yeah, the plane is defective but we're going to risk it"? Or maybe, "No, we can't fix it so we're cancelling the flight". All of these things are bad for your travel day. Turns out they decided to steal another plane. I had images in my head of United Airlines operatives walking around the airport slyly checking the handles on other aircraft. Maybe pulling off some hubcaps.

So, we took the plane that was supposed to be leaving after ours. They informed us that we couldn't use the bathroom on board before the plane hit 18,000ft so if we needed to pee we'd better get it done in the terminal building. Excellent. By 7pm my ass was numb from sitting on the floor. I went to get a sandwich. We finally boarded and got up in the air by 8pm. Three and a half hours late.

The original flight was due to get into to Honolulu at about 7pm and I was planning on meeting people for dinner. Of course now we were due in at 10pm. Bang goes dinner. Sat next to a very nice young lady on the flight, we moaned most of the way about the flight, the delay, the movie, the guy in front. Just about anything. She was en route back to see her husband after having been on the mainland for a few weeks.

Finally the plane touched down and we got off. It was humid and still hot even for 10pm. The baggage came out on two carousels at once - which make's it surprisingly hard to find your bag. And I made my weary way out to get my rental car. Bonus! Nice lady at Hertz upped me to a convertible Mustang. Headed out to find it and... it started raining. Paradise island. And it's raining. I'm starving. Ate the sandwich hours ago. Missed dinner. It's now 11pm but feels like 2am because, hey, it IS 2am in California. The only thing open near the airport is a McDonalds. So, of course, my first meal in the middle of the pacific is a Big Mac.

Then it's time to find the hotel. Let me tell you, Honolulu, big on one way systems. Took forever to find the hotel and it's now nearly midnight. I'm kinda stressed because I have no idea what time or where I need to meet my contact in the morning. I only know it's likely to be early. Sunrise type early. I need to get checked in and get to my room so that I can get online.

The guy at the check in desk says, 'Hmm... let's see if I can find a room for you Mr. Gisborne'. I nearly choked. Find? A room? I have a reservation! Apparently it's in the Hilton Hawaiian Village's habit to regularly overbook rooms. The guy said that they've been escorting people to other hotels. I tell him that that's not an option. He says, 'oh, I think I found a solution. You can stay in a room tonight but we'll have to move you tomorrow'. I tell him that's not an option either - I hate not being able to walk into my room and unpack and be done with it. He sees that I'm going to start losing my composure pretty soon and, oh look, he's found a room I can have for the three nights I'm here. Well done, chap.

After getting to the room, dropping my stuff, getting online, washing and all the other stuff I needed to do I put my head down on the pillow around 1am. 4am body time. My alarm went off 5hrs later...

So to all those that don't travel for a living, yes, sometimes, it's a wondrous thing and most of us would not swap it for a desk job somewhere. But, and here is the thing, it doesn't matter WHERE it is, when the traveling sucks, it sucks. Simple as that. And I notice no one bats an eyelid when I get on a plane for 4hrs and arrive in, oh, let's say Cleveland. (No offence to anyone in Cleveland). But when the destination is Hawai'i people are all over it... A rainy, all food options closed, night time late arrival is a rainy, all food options closed, night time late arrival no matter where it is.

1 comment:

steve Simon said...

Ahh yes, the glamor of travel. You hit all the right buttons yet u know there will never be any sympathy for you....hope it got better the next day.