COLUMN: Current horrors of airline travel, part 2

Kim Poindexter

Last week's column could've been a disaster, but if it turned out that way, I would blame Grant Crawford.

I wasn't finished with it when we left for Tampa to see the Rolling Stones. My sister Lisa lives near Orlando, and it was our intent to join them for what could well be the last hurrah for those geezers - and we're not getting any younger, either. But a serious of unfortunate incidents made me forget about the column, which was coincidentally about the same topic as the incidents that prevented its completion. I texted Grant and he said the column was already on the page. I freaked out and told him it was a mess, and didn't have an ending. He assured me he'd take care of it, and he did - sort of. He had no way of knowing there was more to our arrival at the Miami airport than cursing fellows in yarmulkes.

We arrived from DFW in the wee hours - around 2 a.m. - and although the flight from Texas to Miami was comfortable, it hardly made up for the disaster on the tarmac in Tulsa. But that was nothing compared to the cold, hard floor in the airport, on which we were forced to sleep until boarding began for our 7 a.m. flight. We had checked our luggage - something we'll never do again unless we absolutely have to - so we had no clothing to retrieve to make us warmer. And anyway, we were in Florida; even in September, it's shorts weather in that state. What we really did was more like dozing than sleeping, but I wondered intermittently who passed by on the concourse, and what they must be thinking of those bums lying near the departure gate.

The 7 a.m. flight was uneventful, and we arrived in Orlando at 8 a.m., thinking we'd be heading to Walt Disney World shortly. And that's what happened - only without our luggage. It seems our bags were still malingering at DFW. The agent who listened to my rant insisted we'd see the bags within 24 hours. So we Ubered on over to the Swan resort; I've recommended this property before, or its sister resort, the much larger Dolphin (these are now Marriott properties). It was too early to check in, so we lounged by the pool; it so happened that our swimsuits were in our carry-on.

Ultimately we got checked in, after an excellent brunch at House of Blues at Disney Springs, and went to the lobby to see if our bags had arrived. They hadn't, nor did they that evening. However, we did get a text from American that the bags had been delivered rather late. In retrospect, I feel bad about the small portion of butt I left to the clerk at the check-in counter, after I'd finished chewing it. I think I vacillated between accusing him of stealing our stuff and waxing philosophical on the incompetence of resort front desk agents. But how was I to know the airline would send a later text essentially saying, "Oops, we screwed up! Your bags are still in Dallas, after all!" It was the next afternoon before we finally got our bags.

The rest of that trip didn't go too badly, although our return flight got changed around a couple of times. When I finished detailing the horrors of airline traffic, I might explain some new features at WDW you'll want to check out. Same for Universal.

Then came time for our annual Halloweekend jaunt to Cedar Point. We'd already had trouble with our Southwest flights, as I mentioned last week. After the problems with American, I was paranoid - especially after I took a second look at our connections. We were to fly from Tulsa to Dallas Love, then to Chicago Midway, then to Cleveland - and the connections were tight, each 45 or 50 minutes. The old axiom that if something can go wrong, it will, always applies to me - to paraphrase Jordy Verrill in "Creepshow," Poindexter luck is always in, and always bad - so we figured there would be problems.

The Tulsa flight made it to Love OK, even though as is almost always the case, our arrival gate was at the opposite end of the airport from the next departure gate. We went at a fast clip and boarded the flight to Chicago with time to spare. And then we waited - and waited. The pilot said we were having trouble getting clearance, and we started getting nervous. Ultimately we arrived late at Midway, and again, we had to travel from one end of the airport to the other - and Midway is not small, though it's not the behemoth that O'Hare is. (More on that next week.) We literally had to run to make our flight, and I was carrying a heavy backpack on both shoulders, with my husband dragging a roller suitcase laden with another carry-on. We made that flight, too, just barely - but the next day, my shoulders were in so much agony I could barely move them; my hips were crying out for replacement surgery; and both my husband's feet and mine were sore. Getting on a rough roller coaster when you're already in pain is no laughing matter.

Halloweekends was great this year, after the COVID-imposed hiatus in 2020. But that's another story for later, because I have to use my allocated space this week to explain the return flight, which was riddled with problems. While we were spending a pleasant few hours at the Rock 'n' Roll Music Hall of Fame, we got the dreaded texts telling us our flights were delayed. The one from Cleveland to Nashville was about 30 minutes late, but we breathed a sigh of relief when we noted the one from Nashville to St. Louis was running behind by a couple of hours. Unfortunately, the flight from St. Louis to Tulsa appeared to be on time, so we were up the proverbial creek. Fortunately, a Southwest agent in Cleveland worked to find us a flight the following day, but we'd have to overnight in Cleveland. That was a drag, and with more than 100 people in line to check in at the hotel where AA was rooming some of its thousands of affected customers, we didn't get in bed until 2 a.m. - and had to return at 6 a.m. for the first of two flights in our return to Tulsa.

Think that's the end of our airline woes? Hardly. I'll resume my sordid tale next week.

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