Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

One of my favorite movies of all time is Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with John Candy and Steve Martin. If you do much traveling, this movie is hilarious.

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Well, I’ve been living my own version of the movie for the past twenty-four hours. The nightmare began at LaGuardia. I had been in New York for a Board meeting and was on my way home.

I got to the airport about four hours early. So I went to the Admirals Club to power through some e-mail. The trouble started when I checked in. My flight was delayed an hour, and the agent told me he thought there was a good chance it would be cancelled because of incoming weather. He recommended I take an earlier flight to Dallas and then connect from there to Nashville. The only problem was that the only seat left on the flight was a window on the very last row.

No problem, I thought. I have a critically important meeting in Nashville tomorrow. I can’t risk missing my flight. So, I left the Admirals Club and headed for the gate. The flight was boarding when I got there. I got settled in and a few minutes later we pushed away from the gate.

No sooner had we left when the pilot said that air traffic control had stopped all departures and arrivals. Thunderstorms in the area were the culprit. We sat on the tarmac for three hours. Fortunately, I had my Verizon Broadband Access Card, so I cracked open my computer, logged onto the Internet, and got to work. Unfortunately, the plane was an older-vintage 737, with no electrical access. My battery died after about two hours.

Finally, they gave us clearance and we took off. The plane ride to Dallas was also three hours along. With no battery power left, I read through several magazines. We finally landed, but too late to make my connection. I was stuck. Thankfully, my very-capable assistant Vicki had booked me a room at the Grand Hyatt at the airport, knowing that I would likely miss my plane.

I checked into my room and called American Airlines. Vicki, my assistant, had already booked me a flight out the next morning (today) at 6:55 a.m. Perfect! I thought. I will be a little late to my meeting in Nashville, but this will work. The agent confirmed my flight and even gave me a seat assignment. I thought I was all set.

This morning I got an early start. However, when I attempted to get a Boarding pass, the system wouldn’t recognize me. I walked up to the ticket counter and asked for help. The agent worked on it for about fifteen minutes. He said my reservation wasn’t in the system. He also informed me that they had just installed a new system today. Lucky me.

He finally called his supervisor over. She worked on it for another fifteen minutes. By this time, I had pretty much missed my flight. I rushed to the gate anyway, but, alas, I was too late. And, just to top it off, the American agent at the gate offered no sympathy whatsoever. So, what are you going to do?

I ate breakfast at Chile’s and headed to the Admirals Club where I am writing this post of my woes. I feel much better now. thank you very much. (Writing can be so cathartic!)

The truth is, for all this hassle, I really don’t have a lot to complain about. I slept in a clean bed in a cool room. I’m wearing clean clothes. (Thankfully, I had brought an extra set.) My stomach is full, and I’m getting a lot done. When you consider what is happening today in Iraq or Darfur—where people are suffering unspeakable horrors—I am living the good life. For that I am very, very thankful.

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