Friday, May 19, 2017

Havana Running Part 1: A ReLAXing Start

Six pretty birds, all in a row...
It begins!
The adventure is already underway- complete with unexpected perks, slight delAAys, and one extremely confused check in agent.  So basically- Friday.

Rolled into the WallyPark garage a couple hours ago to a scene of light chaos.  I booked a discount stay for Mrs. CruisingAltitude’s car for the duration, and just assumed due to the great last minute price that the place must be empty.  Whelp…no, as it turns out.  Pulled in and found out ‘they’re full.’

So….but….but…my reservation??
Nope, full in self park. But would I be okay with a free upgrade to valet?  Um…yes, yes I would. 

Onwards to LAX we go.  In the shuttle, in the traffic.  Now, as you probably may not be entirely painfully aware, LAX is undergoing about a decade of renovations and construction.  And unlike most of what’s said around here, this isn’t all that much of an exaggeration.  This leads to chronic congestion of traffic through the terminals, and I’d assume, many missed flights.  As the other occupants on my shuttle put it “this is like… Mumbai traffic”  and I’m pretty sure they were even from there, so yeah….

Many long minutes later I got to check in, and promptly hit my next slow down.  However, this was due to asking a beleaguered check-in agent to try and give me my boarding passes all the way through Havana.  He was confused- why in the name of all that’s good in the world would someone fly to Seattle from Los Angeles….to Dallas….to Miami to get to Havana.  There are one stops, there are even NONSTOPS, for crying out loud. 
Heh…yeah I know…Print me the boarding passes, and stop looking at me with your judg-y eyes please. 
Mine.  All mine.

He did (eventually), and I will say that aside from this bit of disbelief, the actual process of getting a boarding pass for Havana was pretty easy.  A perfunctory question about what category I was traveling under, and instructions to get my boarding pass stamped in Miami and I was on my way!

As per always, the next stop before a successful mileage run is the club of the day.  As Havana is considered “Carribbean” it doesn’t qualify for ‘international’ status for lounge access.  I really think an exception is due here.  Anyone who jumps through the hoops to go to Cuba in this day and age really is going to consider it an INTERNATIONAL trip.  I’m pretty sure I’d feel more at ‘home’ in Jakarta at this point….and you all know how I feel about that place.

But, rules are rules. 
However, if we’ve learned anything from politics recently- rules are only rules until you know the right people.  In this case, a friend who happened to have access to the Flagship Lounge side of the Admiral’s club on this particular day.  And the rules clearly state – one guest, as long as that guest is flying onward on an Oneworld marketed and operated flight.  Boom. Champagne.

About an hour of kicking back and watching planes out the window with a glass of bubbly, and wrapping up some last minute work details before being incommunicado for a couple days, I headed to the gate.
Some might be aware of the great airline shuffle happening this month at LAX which, if you didn’t know better, would seem like airline-pocalypse.  However, it’s been going smoothly as far as I can tell, at least as far as Oneworld is concerned.  AA now has consolidated down to T4, T5, and some scattered gates at the international terminal, while Qatar has been moved over to the proper gates at TBIT, rescuing it from the reject terminal at T2.  No complaints, and minimal confusion that I could tell.  They’re even planning a new Admiral’s Club in T5 which is badly needed.
Selfies with idols en-route to T5

Speaking of T5, my slightly delayed flight left from there this afternoon and why did no one tell me they opened a Lemonade restaurant there?!?  That’s ALMOST worth paying airport food prices for….almost.  So far, so good on the flight currently.  No pre-departure beverage to speak of though, which is every nit-picky traveler’s pet peeve.  Now, just looking forward to dinner & hopefully a smooth touch down in Seattle.  After that I’ve got a 5-ish hour layover to contend with, part of which I plan to spend trying to sign up for the newest TSA-avoidance gimmick “Clear.”  I’ve done the online part, and now just have to show up in person at the enrollment center, as long as it’s still open when I get there.  I’ll let you know….

Until the next segment, wish me luck.



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