December 20, 2010, I was scheduled to fly home from Bangkok. The night before, I attempted to do my laundry, only to find out that one of the dryers was broken -which left 1 dryer- and I was third in line. It was midnight, I had to be up in 5 hours and I had an armload of wet clothes. I didn’t want to stay up for 3 more hours, so I went to beg the front desk staff to use their dryer. You know, the one used for the hostels linens. But wait, the hostel sends out their laundry. There are no hidden washing machines or dryers. Sigh. I better go sit by the dryer so I can throw my clothes in as soon as it’s empty -maybe the next person in line won’t show up in time?
I was so tired, my eyeballs started to hurt. I needed sleep. It was going to take 4 flights and 3 different airlines to get me home. That’s when it happened. One of the workers from the Front Desk came over and told me that the housekeeping staff would dry my clothes for me and that I should go to bed. I was floored. Are you serious? You’re going to dry my clothes? I can go to sleep now? I didn’t wait. I placed my wet clothes into a small plastic bucket, gave them to the housekeeping staff, and practically kissed her. I was ecstatic!
4:30 a.m., I was sitting in the back of a taxi, on my way to the airport. Tired. I was so tired that I didn’t notice that he hadn’t turned on the meter until we were arriving at the airport.
“The meter is not on! How much is the fare?”
“Um, no. It is not 400 baht to the airport. I’ve taken a taxi to the airport before.”
“You the only person. It’s late. Special rate. 400 baht.”
“I’m not paying you 400 baht. I will pay you 160 baht and you’ll pull over and let me out”.
I was fuming. 400 baht?! I stood my ground. The driver drove passed where he would let me off and made as though to drive me back into the city. That’s when I demanded he drop me off at the curb. He pulled over reluctantly. As I got out, he popped the trunk, but stayed inside the taxi. I got out, dragged my 20 kilo backpack onto the ground -sprained my thumb in the process- and gave him 160 baht.
As I waited in line for the Cathay Pacific check-in counter to open I quickly erased my taxi experience from my mind. I had 28+ hours of travel ahead of me and I didn’t want to be miserable to whole time. What happened next seemed to set the tone for the remainder of my trip home -with the exception of American Airlines.
As I lugged my backpack onto the belt to be weighed, I asked the agent if I could get a window seat. No problem. I then asked him if the flight was full and if I could have an empty seat beside me. I watched as he did a bunch of typing and made small talk about the many flights ahead.
“Do you want me to check your bags all the way through to Canada, Miss?”
“You can do that? The other airlines are not One World members.”
“It is no problem, Miss.”
Sweet. Having my bag checked through to Canada would save me a lot of time, hassle and pain. I wouldn’t have to wait at each airport for my backpack, go through security, find the new airline’s check-in counter, check my bag, go through security, board my flight and then repeat the process 2 more times. As the agent handed me my boarding passes, I took note of hid name. In fact, I believe I tweeted Cathay Pacific to tell them how amazing he was.
My flight from Bangkok was delightful. I had an entire row all to myself. I was able to relax and have a wee nap. The downside was that I was in the back of the plane, and when we landed and the doors were opened, I had less than 45 minutes to get to my connecting flight. For the first time in my life, I channeled my inner Chinese person and elbowed my way passed passengers and out of the plane. I then started to sprint through the terminal, elbowing people out of my way and apologizing as I did so. When I finally found the area I had to go to, I then had to pass through security. I quickly threw my laptop in a bin, stripped off my coat and chuck my daypack onto the belt. I walked through and waited for my things. The security agents knew my flight was leaving shortly.
“Okay, hurry!! You go now!”
I nodded and raced to throw my things together and sprinted up the escalator. I arrived at the gate out of breath and just in time. After going through a second security check, I lined up to board my flight bound for Los Angeles.
The flight was fabulous. The check-in agent in Bangkok had put me next to one of the exit doors, which meant I had tons of leg room. It also meant I didn’t have to wake up other passengers if I had to pee. The flight wasn’t full, so the seat beside me was empty. Score. The hours flew by and before I knew it, we were landing at LAX.
LAX was the one airport I was dreading. I’ve read countless tweets about the new body scanners and pat downs and I wasn’t excited about either of them. Luckily, I had a 4 hour layover, so I wasn’t too worried about missing my next flight. Customs was a breeze. No questions, just a stamp and a smile -no photo and finger print scans that I saw other passengers do. I waited by the belt for my backpack and groaned about the huge line to get through the last security check. As I threw my bag onto a cart, I saw a much smaller line, so I went there. The sign above said it was for crew, however there were no crew members in the line and nobody was forcing people to leave. I was through the line and dropping my bag off in 10 minutes.
I practically skipped my way to terminal 4. LAX had been a breeze so far. Nothing like I had imagined. When I found the American Airlines check-in counter, I printed my boarding pass to Las Vegas and wandered around looking for security. It took way too long for me to figure out that it was upstairs. I went up, and stood in line. Wow, the line was small. But hey, the line on the other side looks smaller…a TSA agent let us duck the ropes and go to the other line. When we (there were 4 of us) got there though, we discovered the line was huge. So, we walked back over and the same TSA agent let us back into the line we had just left. A couple of the passengers were pissed, I was totally content.
“Why is that line so much bigger than this one?”
“This is the line for First Class passengers.”
“Opps. I’m in the wrong line, I’m economy class.”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. You’re fine. Just stay here.”
I kid you not. I think I fell in love with the TSA agents at LAX. Actually I’m convinced they put the happier agents in the First Class section, as the agents over in Economy seemed fairly grumpy. Security was actually fun, I was laughing and most of the people were happy. Oh, and then the whole celebrity thing happened. Nick Jonas was behind me in line with two girls, blah, blah, blah, my life was now complete, blah, blah, blah.
As I got ready to board my flight to Vegas, I was given a small reality shake. The American Airlines gate agents were crabby and rude. When I boarded and settled into my seat, I couldn’t help but notice that the flight attendants looked sloppy and I was less than thrilled when they kicked my foot out of the aisle because it had wandered there when I was sleeping. I arrived in Vegas feeling completely exhausted and a wee bit grumpy. Thankfully, I didn’t have to pick up my backpack, it was checked through to my next flight.
The next 3 hours, were the longest hours of my life. I was so tired. I wanted to be in a coma and quick! Our flight was delayed an hour due to rain in Vancouver -where it was coming in from. When I finally boarded the Air Canada flight to Calgary I was greeted by happy flight attendants. Actually, they weren’t happy, they were positively giddy. Any grumpiness I had towards American Airlines quickly vanished. I had 3 seats to myself, 3 hours and flight attendants who told me to lay down, wear my seatbelt and that they wouldn’t wake me up until we landed.
In the days leading up to my trip home, I was a little nervous about my 28+ hours of travel time. I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure what the airports would be like 4 days before Christmas. In a way, I was prepared for the worst. However, in the end, I was completely spoiled. Luck wasÂ definitelyÂ on my side.