Thursday, February 18, 2010

come fly with me

i returned a few days ago from a lovely long weekend in boston, which i will recount in all its glory in a soon-to-be forthcoming post.

for now, i am going to tell you that one of the reasons this was such a lovely weekend is that it almost became the trip that wasn't. and i am going to tell you why. but first i am going to tell you that this is not a story for the faint of heart. those who swoon and despair at the misfortune of others should read no further. those looking for a folly to hang over me and remind me of constantly until the day i die, by all means, read on.

it happened like this.

i booked my ticket to boston about a month ago, very carefully choosing president's day weekend because it meant an extra day of beantown fun. and once the ticket was booked, i promptly moved on with my life as regularly programmed and did not think another thing about it.

because cheap flights to boston fly out of the baltimore airport (bwi), and because the baltimore airport is something of a pain to get to, my plan was to ask some kind and giving friend who doesn't own a car to drive me to the airport, keep my car for the weekend, and then come pick me up on monday night.

what a deal!

but then snowmageddon happened and there was no place for anyone to park a car on the street, so i decided my car was best left safe in the bennett garage and i decided to take amtrak to the airport instead.

for those of you sick of reading this story already, let me offer you this one piece of advice before you give up: do not rely on amtrak to get you to the airport on time.

sure, everything will seem fine when you arrive at the station. but then, two minutes before your train is scheduled to depart, they'll announce that it's late. and you won't worry at first because you've planned well and given yourself a buffer. but then, 45 minutes later when there is no word on the train and your buffer has been spent, you will start to panic.

in such a state of panic, i headed over to the information desk, explained my predicament, and requested that my ticket be transferred to a different train that was leaving five minutes later for the same destination.

woman at the counter: i can't do that.
me: is the train full?
watc: no.
me: is it going to bwi?
watc: yes.
me: do tickets on that train cost the same as tickets on my train?
watc: yes.
me: so why can't i just transfer my ticket to that train?
watc: we can't transfer tickets. if you want to get on that train you'll have to buy another ticket.

this was not the information i was looking for.

so, i got all enraged-customer on her and rather forcefully informed her that, if i had more time, i would stay and make a scene. but since i didn't have more time i would buy another ticket and deal with her later.

so there.

but then a significantly more helpful person came over the PA and said that everyone on my train going to bwi should get on that train instead.

so there 2.0.

it was now almost 4 o'clock. my flight was due to leave at 5:30. the train ride is half an hour. things were not looking good.


(is this story still going?)

(stay with me guys. we're not even to the best part yet!)

(i know, i know! the mind boggles that it could get better.)

(but it does!)

i got on the train, then on the shuttle from the train station to the airport, and ran into the terminal at approximately 4:40, waving my hands and shouting at the gate agent, "my flight leaves at 5:30! is there any way i can still make it?!?"

the gate agent was remarkably calm and assured me that i had plenty of time. he then set about retrieving my reservation information.

upon which he got a furrow in his brow and said, "you don't have a reservation on this flight."

luckily, i had already practiced my enraged-customer routine that day, so i was ready to go.

i can't remember exactly what i said, but i am sure i used the words "utterly ridiculous," "i know i have a reservation" and maybe even "i can prove it!"

whereupon i pulled out my (new! exciting!) iphone and pulled up the e-mail with my flight confirmation.

and then, without bursting into hysterical laughter or projecting any judgement and disdain, the gate agent said, "i'm sorry, you do have a reservation. for march 12."


that's right.

it was february 12.

and i had booked a ticket for march 12.

i wanted to throw up.

instead, in the panic and passion of the moment, i shouted, "you have to get me on that plane!" and threw my credit card down on the counter.

had i been desperate to get on the plane because i was racing after my soon-to-be-lost one true love the whole thing might have been sort of awesome. sort of like a scene out of a cameron crowe meeting with a kickass soundtrack.

as it was, it was more like a scene out of "planes, trains and automobiles."

or my worst nightmare.

somehow, maybe through the grace of god, they got me on the plane for a slight $75 change fee. but, as i dashed away from the counter at 4:50p.m., the agent shouted after me, "you're still coming back on march 15th!"

of course.

in short (though why bother with being short-winded after all this?) it took me three plane tickets on two different airlines plus two train tickets plus two metro rides (with transfers!) to make it to boston and back.

and somehow, maybe through the grace of god, i lived to tell the tale.

(did you live to read it to the end?)

(i hope so.)


Nathan Mathews said...

Frances, I don't think I have ever posted a comment on your blog before . . .but I am so sorry, I hope the part about being in Boston was better. I am just a little sad that you are not in Boston this weekend as my brother Kyle is there on Business and knows absolutely nobody. I talked to him tonight and he was going to a movie by himself. I am trying to hook him up with Morgan's friend Grant for tomorrow, but if you know any fine young ladies that would like to show him the town do send them his way . . .

Evan and Holly said...

Oh Francy Pants. Hilarious.

suvi said...

bwahaha! oh friend. Reservations can be so tricky (just like working with those reservation agents). I'm glad you made it, safe and sound. Hopefully australia is more successful.

Miranda said...

Hi Frances, I just rejoined the blogging world and was so happy that reading this post of yours was one of the first I've read in months.

This is an awesome story and I am trying not to laugh because this is exactly the kind of thing that will happen to me one day, I just know it.

Well done!