When I talk to some friends and my extended family about my job, many of them assume that frequent travel is all about luxury travel. As many business travelers know, that’s far from the truth. I certainly feel like I know how to be comfortable on the road, travel can lead to lots of headaches as well. A recent trip was particularly memorable.
I was originally booked on United to Seattle. My Skywest flight MKE-ORD was significantly delayed. Another rolling delay, starting at 20 minutes, then an hour, then almost 2. I got protected on later flights, first by the MKE ticket counter then as the delay increased, the 1K desk helped protect me on an even later flight. Unfortunately first class was full on later flights, so I lost my confirmed upgrade. Finally were told that the delay was due to crew and the 2 hour delay was extended to almost 4 hours, so the gate agents called people up to the counter to rebook passengers. There was a later MKE-ORD flight not nearly as delayed, but that was full, so options were very limited. I finally got to the front of the line to talk to the gate agent, and I was given the same option as the 1K line or offered a bus ticket to ORD, but I would have had to rush to make the flight and assume no driving delays or issues at security. Rather than try to depend on an already delayed CRJ, I asked them to check availability on Delta, knowing there are frequent flights to Minneapolis, and presumably the same from MSP to Seattle. The agent seemed rather stressed from the day, but he quickly found flights and called the Delta counter to confirm availability. I went for it, choosing 2 flights on mainline planes, rather than taking a bus or continue to hope for a very delayed CRJ to get going. This ended up being a good decision, since my original flight actually was more than 5 hours late.
Before I go into more detail of the travel itself, let me pass along a few TSA stories I witnessed. When clearing security the first time, I noticed the TSO on an adjacent belt dialing, then calling on his cell phone while supposedly watching the screen of the bag scanner. I wanted to take a photo, but it seemed like a shift change or something as there were multiple agents standing around. Wait…that’s SOP. Anyway, I couldn’t do it discretely, so I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. When I was going through the second time, as I was passing through the metal detector, I remembered that I bought an iced tea in Terminal C and put it in my travel infuser mug and then back in my backpack. Fully expecting to have to dump it out, I waited for a “bag check”. Despite there being 1 other person in that particular line, and my cup having at least 10 ounces of ice and liquid in it, nothing was said of it, and I was off to the concourse. Not a good day for TSA in Milwaukee.
Back to the travel experience. After leaving the United gate agent, I had to go to the Delta ticket counter to check in. While there, I was able to get exit row seats assigned. I had a few hours until my flight departed, so I went to the SkyClub to get some work done. I rarely fly Delta anymore, but my club membership is still good for a few more months, so it was nice to take advantage of it, especially in my home airport (MKE), which beats the pre-flight experience in terminal C where United is located, plus there was no line for security, and no body scanners in terminal E.
Anyway, I discovered that even though I got on this flight a few hours before departure, there were still seats open in FC. Thanks to a full Y ticket, and Platinum Medallion status, I was first on the upgrade wait list, with 5 seats open of 14 on an MD-88. I cleared at the gate. I also cleared the MSP-SEA flight at the gate, also 1st on the list with 5 seats open of 24 on a 757-300. I always thought that route was a tough upgrade, but I guess not on a Wednesday. I’m not complaining. It’s also my first domestic flight on a legacy Northwest plane with in flight entertainment. Got Deltalina video and watched “Just Go With It” which was what I consider a great airplane movie. Totally mindless, but good for a few laughs and to kill a few hours. After the movie, I switched to audio channels, but only briefly, as one channel was playing Christmas songs (its June?!?), and I heard Chicago’s 25 or 6 to 4 on another. Wow…Glad the ipod was nearby.
I haven’t flown Delta on a meal flight in a while. I’m so used to United and to a lesser extent Continental’s in flight service, the differences with Delta were interesting. I do like the full offer of pre departure beverages that Delta offers (as does CO), much better than the “water or OJ” offering on United. Meal orders appeared to be taken back to front, with the FA asking the preference of 2 options plus a drink order. The meal choices consisted of a roasted chicken breast topped with some sort of cheese served with corn and roasted potatoes or a pasta dish served with fresh parmesan cheese. I opted for the chicken.
Once we leveled off, hot towels were offered, then the signature Delta paper tablecloth was setup. No pre meal snack or nuts offered at all. Meals were served on a tray with the drink on it and a paper napkin surrounding metal silverware. About an hour before departure, the snack basket was passed, and I had to get a Biscoff.
Another perk of Delta is the Woodford Reserve. Sadly, they were out of glases when I ordered my drink as we were nearing arrival.
I finally made it to Seattle a few hours later than scheduled. Thankfully I was scheduled to arrive the night before my meetings started. I don’t always do this, but I’m certainly glad I did in this case. I actually booked this way since the preferred United itinerary was much more expensive than what I took.
This is a story I will remember to tell those folks who think my job requiring frequent travel is joyous. Despite some stress and lots of delays, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, I certainly made the most of a pretty bad travel day.