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Flying for Dummies: Part III

Posted by darren

To say I have bad luck when it comes to traveling would be an understatement.

More accurately, when I step onto an airplane, the moons align in some sort of event horizon for which I receive the blunt of some mystical, evil aggression. I would roughly compare my experiences to Rosie O'Donnell sitting on Verne Troyer's face.

That is, to say, somewhat uncomfortable. Scratch that, very uncomfortable. I've already chronicled two experiences in traveling, which you can find here and here. God wanted me to make a trilogy, so that's what I'm doing.

My friend Ryan decided several months ago to marry his then-girlfriend-now-wife. I love those two to death, so when they asked me if I wanted to attend their wedding in Tampa, it wasn't even really a question. I was definitely going.

That is, if I could physically make it there.

My first horrible encounter with flying happened when I attempted to attend my cousin's wedding. I say attempted because I never quite made it there. My track record was already discouraging, but I thought surely this time would be different!

The wedding fell on the weekend before Obama's inauguration. I live in DC, flying out of Reagan Airport was understandably completely insane. I've learned two things about leaving this area to go other places:

  1. Never check luggage, and
  2. Pay attention at your gate.

I forgot my third rule, however, to not pack hair gel because everyone knows terrorists love to be extremely good looking. TSA agents specifically told me this as they were throwing away my $12 Redken hair shit -- as an aside, you will never hear me call it "Product" because that is completely retarded.

After flying extensively with AirTran, I've come to realize that all of their flights connect out of Atlanta. If you're actually flying to Atlanta, then you'll have a one hour layover in a lower part of the Atlanta airport.

And it will be delayed.

I always get stuck in Atlanta. I think the inevitability of being stuck in Atlanta actually calms me down some, because at least my expectations aren't set too high. You see these businessmen yelling at the gate attendant about their flight, and I'm just waiting for the woman to respond, "Dude, you're in Atlanta."

My flight was already running behind in DC, so I had approximately 15 minutes to get off my plane and back on a different plane from Atlanta to Tampa.

Only one snag. AirTran overbooks the flight to Tampa... by 20 people....

I've purchased these tickets months in advanced, the lady in Reagan promises me that I'm officially checked in to my connection flight, I just would need to see the gate attendant to get my seat assignment.

Just an FYI, if you see "TBD" on your seat assignment, presume you're not getting on the plane.

The woman explains to me how I won't be getting on this flight, and how I won't be getting on any flight for the rest of the day because they're ALL overbooked.

Why the hell is everybody going to Tampa? Don't they know that town is ghetto fabulous?

After hitting on the flight attendants and the gate attendant, she informs me she moved my booking to the next flight out of Atlanta in two hours (which is also booked) but I'd have to go to a different terminal and fight to get a seat assignment.

For the trouble, she gives me one round trip flight to where ever I want. Sweet action.

I sprint over to the next terminal, which is still boarding a flight that is ALSO overbooked. To like Dakota or something. People are traveling to weird places today.

The woman at this new gate tells me she can't deal with me for 45 minutes, so I wait patiently to bug her again in 15 minutes.

She's finally willing to work with me, but then says my name is not on the next flight's list. Then she tells me that the flight is actually canceled altogether....

AirTran saw the shitshow that was brewing and ordered a bigger plane, so I'm promised I can get on this new, larger airplane. She gives me a seat assignment for this flight, which leaves approximately an hour after I was supposed to actually arrive in Tampa.

Oh, and this new flight is in a different terminal. Again.

I've got all the time in the world to goof off in Atlanta now.

When I've got nothing to do, my mind generally wanders. Especially at airports. I watch all the families that frantically rush across the tarmac, the go karts that transport cranky old ladies, and the men who stay at the airport bar too long and miss their flight by a couple of beers.

I notice that the men's restroom is way too liberal for my tastes, where one kid urinal is surrounded by two adult urinals, I guess so that both daddies can hold the son's hand while he pees. Awkward.

Hunger sets in, so I decide to try out the new Angry Whopper from Burger King.

It must have been pretty damn angry, because not a second after I finish eating it, the Atlanta airport fire alarms start going off. For 45 minutes straight.

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Atlanta doesn't want me to leave.

Roughly 30 minutes pass and my gate changes. Another 30 minutes pass, and my gate changes again. Another 30 minutes pass, and my gate not only changes again, but my flight gets delayed... by another hour....

It seems that the plane is taking a little longer than normal to depart from DCA. Yes, that would be Reagan airport. THE Reagan airport I left from hours prior. I am now waiting hours for a plane to arrive from the place I originally departed.

At this point I'm close to death. My Nintendo DS no longer holds a charge. My cellphone no longer works. This is now the sixth gate I've waited at.

The plane finally arrives "on time." I don't know how you can be on time when delayed an hour, but there's no point in debating about it.

The new jumbo flight to Tampa takes off, and I AM ON THE PLANE. We arrive in Florida around 9PM, a whole seven hours later than I originally scheduled.

At least I didn't have to spend the night in a crappy Atlanta Holiday Inn Express. No, instead I only need a $60 cab ride to the luxurious Renaissance Vinoy Resort. Drinks anyone?