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
So good to have you back Ardys. And thanks for the travel story, not quite from hell, but arduous enough, especially for your daughter. The saddest thing from my point of view when eading your saga, was being in first class and not having any first class luxuries, other than leg room.
Thank you Francesca. Qantas made up for the lack of ‘first class’ (That is domestic AA but is equivalent to Business class international on Qantas) lunch with the upgrade and the wine on the trip to Tassie. 😉
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Food,Photography & France said:
Whoever suggested there was pleasure in long haul travel should book a journey with your travel agent:)
Long haul travel is hard work, no doubt. There was really nothing our travel agent could have done about anything that happened. We have to fly American Airlines when in the US because it’s the only way to get to Cincinnati where my Mum lives. I think they are really struggling under the heavy use and punters wanting cheap prices. There were no empty seats anywhere on this trip… not even in Qantas Business class!
I was tempted not to tick ‘Like’ on this. What a nightmare Ardys. I’m glad you’re back home safely again with luggage intact.
xxx Massive Hugs xxx
We have been doing these long trips for many years so we know how badly it can go, and yet we keep going! Truly, we have had worse… except for the lost luggage. We have had delayed luggage before but not for that long. I was making my list of everything I would need to replace!! Thanks David. x
Wow! What a trip you had…but all’s well that ends well! Glad you finally got your luggage, certainly a test of patience 😊
Yes, Laila, the lost luggage was the biggest worry. We had not only our favourite travel clothes but also a few new purchases in the bags and we would have been very disappointed to lose them. You are right, all’s well that ends well!
Dale Robards said:
Welcome home! We’ve never had quite so many travel “events” on a series of flights, but I’m pretty sure of one thing: you didn’t go crazy with any of the airline employees who were just trying to do their jobs. People who go into tirades are doing no one – especially themselves – any favors. And they are never the ones who get upgrades and bottles of wine. I learned this long ago and it never fails. Hope the end of the trip was refreshing and that your daughter’s health is improving.
Thanks Dale. Yes, it was the series of events that was most wearing, punctuated by the lost luggage that took so long to find. If you had seen the ‘zoo’ at LAX at 11pm at night you would have despaired at them ever finding the bags! And you are exactly right about not abusing the people who are there to help you. We have seen that happen many times over the years and it’s not a pretty sight, so we don’t want to add to the ugly landscape! We know when we travel we are taking a certain risk and responsibility and being the optimists we are, we do it anyway. Things go wrong in life, and travel is no different. Mostly we have pretty good trips, though.
Sounds my worst travel nightmare! Glad you are back safe and sound, I look forward to hearing the good stuff!
My worst night mare would be falling out of the sky, so by comparison this was nothing! Thanks for reading, the good stuff still to come!!
This answered a question. I didn’t realize that you did not pick up your luggage in LA for the night or even had a choice. I am sure, at the time, it seemed like the easiest way. What is one night, right???? Right!! Sure makes for a long journey. So happy all your laundry is done and you even have time to post here!
Thanks Lorraine. We asked about getting the bags that night in LA but the agent said ‘If you really want them, you could go downstairs and they would probably be able to take them out of the system and down-belt them for you’. Does any of that sound encouraging at 11pm at night when you have to be up by 6am the next morning?? Regardless, next time, that is what we will do. Lesson learned. xx
Thinking of Qantas and its partner airlines makes me think of fhe lesson from the Aesop fable The Ass and His Purchaser “you are known by the company you keep.” We have tried others, and I had a good experience flying Air NZ to LA some years ago, but for the limited air travel we do Qantas is our preference. Their back-end systems seem to work where others may not.
I agree however that airport communication could be better. It’s not a case of what you don’t know won’t hurt you!
It’s great your luggage found its way home, and you. You must be quite ready for a break 🙂
Despite all of the trouble you had, I always maintain these trips that don’t go as planned usually make for some great storytelling. I am glad you are back safely! And of course I hope to hear more about this great adventure! 🙂
So many tales to dine on, Ardys. Your holiday tables this season will be filled with one escapade and harrowing adventure after another. And most everyone appreciates those narrated sagas that leave us breathless and sympathetic. You shall be the family bard!
A happy thanksgiving to you and your family. I’m glad you’re safely home, and I shall await with bated breath for all the travel stories to unfold.