Saturday, July 8, 2017

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 1: Location, Location, Location

Sunrise over IAH

I should call this 'position, position,' but it lacks a certain ring. 

Today's the day, we're headed out.  But before we can jump right into the thick of it with our Qatar itinerary, we have to get to Boston.  I'm starting in Houston, and my friend who's going with me as far as CMB is making his way from DCA.  I started my day early this morning with a 5:30 am Uber to the airport from the downtown hotel I've been staying at for the past few days.  I got there in plenty of time and had breakfast at the Centurion lounge in terminal D.  The usual.

I do have a tiny story to tell though.  Remember when I said I took one of my Seattle layovers to sign up for CLEAR?  Well, I did it in part because I knew I'd be spending some quality time with the IAH airport this summer, and they have their kiosks at each terminal except the international terminal D, of course.  So I decided for the novelty of trying it out, and also because D doesn't even have PreCheck, and I've gotten burned by long lines there before, I'd go to A, check in with American, then take the train over to D.

With all that in mind, I was a little annoyed that when I went up to the CLEAR kiosks, the attendant there told me that those particular ones 'weren't open yet,' and that it was a long walk to the ones that were open.  Okay, but this isn't a large terminal, so how far could they be?  And if those weren't operational, why was CLEAR paying all that money to have someone standing there telling people so?  So I still haven't been able to use my membership yet, and I'm glad the trial didn't cost much. 

CLT Views

So, that story over with, I'm currently sitting in the Admiral's Club lounge at CLT before my next flight.  It's not a bad lounge, although it hasn't been renovated to the new AA 'look' just yet.  CLT is a legacy US Air hub, and so this was historically one of their spaces.  It still retains some of the old character- the dark wood and frosted glass.  Even though they don't offer a Flagship Lounge here, I don't mind it.  It has some great views of airport ops and the taxiways, and the proximity of the nearby gates is fun- you're up close and personal with the planes.

CLT Tails

 Lounges are strange places at times.  It takes all kinds, and you never know what you'll encounter.  Currently I'm about 20 feet away from a guy who I (seriously hope) is a doctor who has decided that appropriate behavior is to use his noise cancelling headphones to take a phone call in which he is explaining medical procedures and histories in detail.  Dude, seriously?  I also just heard the phrase "you're not supposed to know I have this information" followed by laughter.  Wow.


At this point it should have been just a quick little 2hr flight up to Boston.  Easy peasy lemon squeasy, right?  Famous last words.  I boarded my flight to find this little guy 'sharing' my legroom.  Now, I'll pause for a moment to give lip service to an issue that has the flyer online community constantly griping.  The uproar (if you can call it that) is over so called 'emotional service animals' who fly for free as service animals, though it is apparently easy to self-proclaim your resident furbaby a 'service animal.'  Now, I'm a fan of pets generally, and I fully understand legitimate service animals who serve an important purpose. 
I also understand feeling strongly enough about your pet to book them a legitimate pet ticket on a flight, and follow the 'fits in a bag under the seat' rule.  This was the case with my little friend on the flight, and he was well traveled and well behaved.  The complaints are over pets who fit neither of these categories. and as such, give a bad name to the rest of them. 
Okay, statement over.  On to the real story, which is the fact that no sooner did I board my flight and sit down next to Fido, that I realized things were going south with this plane.  And I was flying north (haha, get it??).  After being served a PDB (Yus!), I noticed maintenance was spending an unnerving amount of time in the cockpit.  Never good.
It was shortly (well 30 mins later) that we learned that it was the radios that were the problem, and about 30 more minutes later that that plane wasn't going anyplace.  Luckily, I'd already been on the phone with the Exec Plat desk at AA (a good perk of status) and had myself  'protected' on the next flight up to Boston.  This is a strategy that not many people know about, but can save an itinerary.  Getting protected means that if your flight cancels, you already have a seat on an alternate one, before the hoards offload and take them up.
The story should have ended there, with me on the next flight.  However, while I was waiting at my new gate to board my new flight, I heard an announcement that they'd found another 737 for my original flight, and would be boarding soon.  Really?  I mean really????  That seemed unlikely, even in the best of cases.   
Nevertheless, I had to check it out.  Mostly because if my original flight went, then my upgrade would stand.  I hustled down the terminal, calling AA back all the while, trying to sort it out.  Long story short, they did find a plane, and it wasn't broken, but it was unclear exactly when it would be ready to go.  In the end, I actually kept my original flight and seat, though pushed back on a different aircraft about 2 hours late. 
Luckily, I try to book in long layovers on mileage runs for exactly this purpose.  This delay ate up my valuable time to check out the new Boston lounge with my mileage buddy, but it didn't make me miss my flight, which in the end is what counts. 
And the lounge?  That's a story for another post...
Fly well,

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