Tuesday, March 02, 2010


After yesterday's long wait at the Burlington airport came a string of similar snafus that made the entire day's travel seem doomed, though it turned around midway through the day.

With our rescheduled departure set for 12:25, and determined not to get stuck again by unexpectedly long lines at the security checkpoint, or picking up boarding passes, we got lunch a fair bit earlier than we could stand to eat it, and thus, got stuff we could take with us into the checkpoint. Except of course for the dreaded beverages rule. As a result, had to gulp it as fast as I could before going in, and then have nothing to drink with lunch later.

Turns out that despite the boarding passes being prepared ahead (so we were told) it took 40 minutes to get them, and even, we only got two of the three sets we needed, with instructions to get the others later. No idea why. So Siobhan didn't get to eat her lunch at all until later on the plane, when it was pretty soggy.

The flight to Detroit had a slightly delayed takeoff due to fueling, which had us nervous; we had a fairly short layover, no idea how much airport we had to cover, and still needed to get another boarding pass pair. The pilot, however, made up time in the air, and we got in early. To no avail. The gate had another plane in it, and it took forever for them to move out, and then when we got in, we stood there for a solid 15-20 minutes waiting for someone to move the jetway over. By the time we got out, there was less than 15 minutes to go across about 40 gates distance. We'd arranged for Siobhan to run ahead unencumbered by our luggage in hopes of having time to get boarding passes, while I would catch up; but in the end, they didn't get her boarding passes anyway, since we barely made it. I literally ran pretty much the whole way carrying both her luggage and mine, and they closed the door right behind me, about 3 minutes before scheduled takeoff. The tunnel between concourses had a funky light show that, on another day, I might have appreciated. While racing for my connecting flight, it just annoyed me. But I never appreciated moving walkways so much as when I was speedwalking down them.

Our layover in Minneapolis was even shorter, and this time, we had to get the boarding passes. And we were seated too far back for Siobhan to dart to the front of the line and use the same technique. Fortunately, the pilot made up even more time, and our gates weren't that far apart. We actually not only had time to get to the gate, we had time to kill. Time to get our boarding passes (which actually happened quickly). Time to use the bathroom (luxury!). Even time to grab a meal at one of the fast food places at the gates. If this wasn't enough of a sign things were turning around, it turns out our meal vouchers issued in Burlington still worked at restaurants in Minneapolis, so our meals were nearly free.

The flight from Minneapolis to San Diego was a bit long, about four hours of air time. Which would normally be no problem at all, but at the end of a day featuring a spirited 15-minute sprint through an airport, and having been awake for about 18 hours already, it was tiresome, and I was getting pretty whiffy. I feel sorry for the guy stuck sitting next to me. (But it's not something you can apologize for in a socially acceptable way.) Plus we didn't get to sit together. I got a lot of reading done, at least. (More on that tomorrow, probably.)

We had no trouble getting our luggage at baggage claim, little difficulty getting the free shuttle to the hotel, and checkin was easy. We got a pizza delivery (though the delivery guy got lost so it was late). The bad-news theme of the day had one last hurrah before bed, though.

The proliferation of inexpensive or free Wi-Fi started in business-class hotels, and nowadays you can get free Wi-Fi in coffee shops, fast food restaurants, rest areas, and malls, as well as in almost every hotel or motel I've visited in the last few years. But the Westin in downtown San Diego charges $12.95 per day for it. Worse yet, it turns out that is per computer, not per room. Unfathomable.

The sting is slightly lessened by discovering that there's a $39.95/week alternative, which is still enough less even for five days that it's almost enough to get two computers for what I expected to spend for one. But at the same time, I am having to groan at the idea that we're paying $80 for Internet for five days. How can they justify that? Maybe some employers will pay that as an expense, but ours absolutely will not. Mind-boggling.

Siobhan's in lots of sessions in her conference today so I'm mostly just going to recuperate, then go out and shop for some basic supplies, and maybe do some writing.

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