People don’t take trips… trips take people -John Steinbeck
Travel, like life, holds within it ‘layers’ of experience. There is the mobility itself, the mechanics of getting from place to place. There are the persons with whom you travel. And there is whatever is going on in your head, not to mention the world, at that particular time.
Our recent trip had all of this in abundance. I suppose the mobility part of travel is, perhaps, the most dominant, and so I will give you that scenario in this first instalment of our recent travels.
Here you see a photo of how many suitcases were waiting for us at the end of our three week trip to the USA.
It all started when we left Cincinnati. As we assembled at the gate and the boarding time came and went, but we did not, we started to get suspicious. Passengers are mostly kept in the dark during these things. Finally after several announcements that simply stated departure time had been set back, even though the time on the gate sign still read the original boarding time, it was announced boarding time had also been set back. After two hours of this ridiculous charade we were allowed to board the plane. As we were pulling out of the gate, the pilot finally told us, when the plane had been pulled into the gate, either it scraped the bridge or the bridge scraped it and they were worried that some of the sensors on the plane had been damaged and it took time to test them all.
When we arrived in Dallas for our connecting flight to LA, we walked as fast as we could because the delay had used up all of our transit time. (Due to our daughter’s continuing compressed nerve problem, we were limited in speed) Much to our surprise as we approached the gate, the flight looked like it was just boarding. Wrong. Once again we played the waiting game for an hour, being told nothing except the departure time was set back. Finally the flight was cancelled and moved to another plane at an adjacent gate. While they put the food and baggage on board, we waited, and waited. (To be fair, we did get to wait within a few feet of Pricilla Presley. She was very quiet and composed, beautifully coiffed and attired, and slightly ‘other worldly’ looking.)
Once on board the plane, which was so new it still had that ‘new car’ smell, it became apparent to me that something was still amiss. We sat on the tarmac for a long while, about 40 minutes. Once we were in the air, the flight attendant apologised that the ovens were not working, so our (first class) meal would be either a sandwich or a salad, neither of which I could eat. Fortunately, I’d had an orange in the airport lounge, so I would ‘survive’. Halfway into the flight an apology was announced that the in flight entertainment system was not working very well. I was reading so it didn’t matter to me, but I’m sure it mattered to others. It was a new plane, for goodness sake!
We arrived to LA just in time to see our A380 pulling away from the gate. It was what we expected, really. An American Airline agent met us at the gate. She told us she was there to help us rebook a flight and sort out details. In actual fact she was part of a scheme to inflict more torture. Rather than rebook us on the same flight the next night, (it was fully booked), they sent us to Sydney via Tokyo! It was 11pm and by the time we got to the hotel they put us in for the night it was 11.30 and we had NO suitcases. We sat at the bar and made phone calls and sent emails to Australia, trying to fix a few complications created from arriving a full day later. After only about five hours’ sleep it was time to get up and have breakfast and get back to the airport for our long journey home. Our daughter’s compressed sciatic nerve condition was a constant concern and reacted badly to the extra sitting. Knowing what we know now, we would probably have retrieved the suitcases for the night and re-checked them the next morning. But at 11pm, and with the American agent less than reassuring that it was a good idea to take the bags ‘out of the system,’ we left them. They were tagged through to our final destinations of Alice Springs and Adelaide, so we assumed they would eventually make it there.
After the long flights via Tokyo, we arrived in Sydney with no bags. Zero. But to make matters worse, American had failed to book Allison a flight from Sydney to Adelaide that day, but had managed to book her TWO flights on the previous day gone. Qantas sorted it out and rebooked her.
Don had a conference to attend in Tasmania and we had booked me a ticket as well, allowing me catch up with a friend and renew acquaintance with the sights of Hobart. When we originally booked the USA trip, we were to arrive home (with suitcases) on Saturday and leave for Tasmania on Tuesday. A little tight but we could do it. However, arriving home on Sunday, with no bags, and having to leave on Tuesday was really pushing the limits. We both scrambled around finding spare toiletry items, and travel clothes which we packed into our small carry on suitcases.
Hobart was beautiful and we were happy to have gone, but rested, we were not. Someone at Qantas read our saga in their files and kindly upgraded us on the flight, and feeling apologetic (American is their One World partner), the attendant treated us to a bottle of wine as well.
Upon arriving back in Alice, we happily collected TWO lots of luggage and I have now washed and put away, two lots of travel clothes… happily.
Trips take us, most definitely.
Another layer of this trip, soon to be revealed… (In all seriousness, things could have been MUCH worse, in fact we’ve been on trips that were worse! However, it was a test of our optimism for travel, and a reminder of how good Qantas really is, even if their some of their partners are left wanting.) xx Ardys