The Travel Day from Hell!
When I woke up this morning, I was a bit flat. I wasn't happy, I wasn't sad. I was very even keel. I was slated to fly in 12 hours and I was nowhere close to prepared. I hadn't even checked in, which is rare. It wasn't for a lack of trying, I tried checking in the night before and was greeted with the error message that my actions couldn't be completed at this time. I shrugged it off and continued on my day.
Normally, I'm excited pre-flight but I guess this wasn't one of those times. I proceeded to create a mental checklist in an effort not to write anything down. This was my first international flight since the pandemic. I was at a loss of what was needed but had somewhat of an idea.
I began with the most important item, my passport. Then my physical Covid-19 vaccination card, clothes, a few shoe options, and then electronics. I managed to get these items together over the course of a day while doing my actual job. Then at 4:00 pm, I went to the airport.
The flight was DL1985 to San Salvador, El Salvador. Departure was at 7:09 and the suggested check-in time was three hours prior to the flight. Considering I live about 40 mins away from the airport, I considered that to be sufficient time. After all, with the Clear and Pre-check combo, it doesn't take me that long to get through security.
This is where it started to go bad. I called for an Uber and the wait time was 15 minutes, "I could manage that ", I said. Finally got into the Uber and traffic was atrocious. It stated an arrival time of 5:32 which still put me at the airport with an hour and changed to spear. Don't get me wrong, I've arrived at the airport 15 minutes before an international flight and made it but I was unclear if that was doable during Covid. Sitting in the back, one local road after the other I began to panic as the time kept creeping closer and closer to 6: 00 pm. I asked the driver what was up with all the local roads and his response was he was following Waze.
We finally got on the highway and it was smooth sailing until it happened. What was it? The car accident my driver got into. I officially knew I was screwed. I had never gotten into an accident, never mind in the back of an Uber. My original thought process was to grab my bag out of the trunk and catch a new Uber but I wasn't sure if that counted as fleeing the scene of a crime so I waited. After what seemed like an eternity I was on the move again. I made it to the airport at 6:00 PM. I originally got there at 5:54 but only realized while at Terminal 4 that the flight was departing from Terminal 2.
I scoped the area and decided the kiosk would be my choice of check-in. Got to the kiosk it couldn't read my passport on the first two tries so I tried by Medallion Number. The error message indicated I had to see an agent. I walked to the nearest agent which then re-routed me to the kiosk assistance line. While waiting in the line, I noticed it was 6:24 which was boarding time. I now needed approval to be permitted to check-in. As much as I wanted to avoid the situation, I had got to that point. After standing in that line for 30 minutes I made it to the front of the line only to be told I couldn't board the flight.
In total devastation, I knew it would come to this. I explained the reason for my tardiness and was met with a hard no. I don't blame the guy, he probably hears excuses all day even though mine was the truth. The supervisor listening in from nearby repeated the No. Stating I should know better and the cut-off for an international flight is an hour, despite having no luggage to check. I asked to be rebooked on the same flight the next day and was told I had to contact the mileage desk since I purchased the ticket on miles. After coming to the conclusion I was not going to get anywhere with these people, I politely said thank you and walked away.
At this point, my only options looked to be either a taxi ride home or go to the TWA Hotel until I could be rebooked. Luckily, I had a third. I walked to the other side of Terminal 2 to first-class check-in. I waited online and explained the situation to the agent. I told her I understood if she couldn't accommodate me and I was just asking as a last-ditch effort. She only asked if I had bags to check, I said no and one phone call later I had an ok to print my boarding pass. Then she said run. It was now 6:45 and the gate closed 14 minutes. (Gate closes 10 minutes before the flight)
Now I know what you're thinking? Why didn't I go to first-class check-in, to begin with? Well, the long and short is I lost Medallion Status in 2020 after not re-qualifying in 2019. Therefore, I was a regular member and had no access to the line. I only tried it as a last resort.
I proceeded to security and made it through in 3 mins. There wasn't anyone in the clear line and from there I was at the front of the line in TSA pre-check. The gate was literally two gates away from security. (C69) At the gate I had to do a temperature check and was then allowed to board the flight.
Would you believe after all of that the flight was delayed by 30 minutes?
After working a full day, the eventful afternoon, and four anxiety attacks later, I was relieved to be on the plane. The only other thing I wanted at this point was a nap. It was short-lived but who doesn't like to wake up to the sight of Biscoff biscuits. Now I just had to endure the 5 hours and 8 minutes of flight to San Salvador.
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any parties mentioned. None of the entities mentioned has reviewed, approved, or endorsed the content listed in this post.