Lugged Luggage and a pointless st*r

I hope that this week finds you happy and healthy. After a fun-filled flight... okay a cancelled and lost-luggage filled flight... to Washington, Nazy and I expected that things couldn’t get worse on the return trip. It began well: US Airways service impressed when we arrived at Reagan Airport. We breezed through a (line-less) check-in procedure, had a time for nice goodbye lunch with Shahrzad and made it through security without being irradiated, disrobed or fondled.

Our airplane was at the gate and ‘on-time’.
We, eh, I had time for a Dunkin’ Donut and..

“Can you get me a coffee, Dan?”

“Of course, my dear. What kind would..”

“Coffee latte. Don’t get something with that half&half stuff.”

No problem,” I thought before discovering that the Dunkin’ Donut stand didn’t have the requisite beverage. I moved to a specialist kiosk, noting that there was only one party in front of me: a lady with blue hair and an elderly gentlemen with a walker. [I know: I should have been concerned.] I stepped in line and overheard their order:

“A cappuccino and an expresso
...” Mrs. Bluehair said.

Sounds simple enough,” I thought, not hearing the ‘...’.

“... and two mochas, easy on the chocolate for one of them, one ice-coffee, a Green Tea, one double expresso, a coffee-latte - with extra latte, a dry cappuccino, two coffees - one with soy milk, one with organic low-fat milk, a macchiato...

And a partridge in a pear tree,” I thought.

It was painful to watch them “collect” their order. The guy, as I said, had a walker. He couldn’t carry anything. The woman had the muscle strength of an anorexic field mouse. They made several trips to a ‘staging area’. But, eventually, the attendant turned to me.

“I’d like a..” I began.

“Excuse me,” Mrs. Blue
hair interrupted. “Which of these mochas has less chocolate? And are you sure about the soy milk?”

I noticed that dental enamel was accumulating on my tongue. “
Got to stop grinding my teeth,” I thought. Eventually, and I do mean eventually, I got Nazy’s coffee. I walked to ‘our’ table and..

“What took you so long?” Nazy asked.


“Now boarding, US Airways 718 to Philadelphia,” the PA system announced.

“Look at that!” Nazy exclaimed swinging her arm toward Gate 42.

“Watch out!” I yelled - too late. The path of Nazy’s arm intersected the point in the space-time continuum that had been occupied by the coffee.

“I was going to bring that onboard,” Nazy muttered. “Why did you put it there?”

Why did you move it?” I thought.

We collected our carry-on items and, heavily laden, trudged toward the airplane. My exalted
Frequent Traveller status allowed us to board early, commandeer several overhead storage bins, and settle into our seats before the riff-raff assembled.

Passenger boarding concluded and the door was closed, Then: nothing. Finally, the captain made an announcement that was hard to hear over the noise of the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU):
Traffic conditions in Philadelphia are causing delays up and down the east coast, our flight will not.... deplane.” The APU shut down and people started getting off the airplane. The Captain, now understandable, made another announcement.

“Leave your carry-on bags on-board, just make sure that you bring your boarding pass.”

That’s good,” I thought, not looking forward to wrestling Nazy’s purse (larger than Monaco and heavier than a battle tank) out of the overhead bin. Then: a stewardess correction:

“Make sure you take
all of your carry-on bags and check with the gate agent about your connections in Philadelphia.”

After enduring a wait in a long line by the gate, the agent spoke directly: “Why are you standing here? You need to be rerouted at the service desk.” He pointed to a long queue in the middle of the boarding area. We joined the queue, eventually establishing communication with a different US Airways agent. This one spent 25 seconds reviewing our situation before saying: “Your connecting flight will leave here in 20 minutes. You
will make your connection. Go and sit by gate 42!”

The agent at gate 42 was less optimistic and very direct. “This flight
will not leave in 20 minutes.You will not make your connection. Get a reroute at the service desk!”

Dismayed, distraught, disgruntled and disgusted, I eyed the queue in front of the ‘service’ desk. Luckily, Nazy was with me: she ignored the queue and planted herself directly behind the only agent that was actually helping customers. It worked. We were rerouted on Air Canada (AC) via Toronto. AC left from Terminal A. We were in Terminal C. We grabbed our drag-along luggage and began the trek. A surly gate agent shouted a cheerful greeting..

“You have transferred
three (3!) pieces of luggage,” the AC rep noted.


“You can only take two pieces. You’ll have to pay for the third.”

“I am a St
r alliance Frequent Traveller,” I explained. “I get an extra piece of luggage on international flights.”

“Your status entitles you to one piece of luggage on Air Canada.”

“How many pieces would I have if I were an ordinary traveller?” I asked.

There was no response - except from Nazy who loudly exclaimed: “Don’t pay, Dan!.”

I tried a calm approach. “We already paid for our flight - including our luggage. We’re only here because of events outside of our control. As a member of the St
r alliance, you cannot charge us extra - unless you are a pointless Str.”

The clerk just stared at me. “Y
ou’re an un-empowered, little man trapped in a corporate climate that precludes initiative,” I thought. “He’s not allowed to think,” I told Nazy.

“You could ask US Air for reimbursement,” the clerk mumbled.

“I stand corrected,” I replied. “
But I already thought of that.”

Nazy was still miffed. “You could have demanded that they give you one of the checked pieces. We could simply carry it on-board.”

“Really?” I replied, surveying our existing pile of ‘carry-on’ l

From there, the trip home was uneventful. Both Nazy and I were able to establish ourselves in an otherwise vacant row of seats; we flew lateral class across the Atlantic. As we collected our luggage in Zürich, I tried to have the final word.

“Maybe the $70 was worth it, Nazy. the baggage was delivered. When we were rerouted on inbound flight, they didn’t charge us extra - but they did misplace the baggage.”

Flight troubles reminded me of one of (the many) things I do not miss about HP. Although we had troubles coming and going, we had a good time visiting while we were in Washington. Shahrzad hosted a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and arranged several outings including a visit to see the Jersey Boys musical. As for the Euro problem described last week - Darius convinced his bank to let him access his money. (A novel concept for the bank.)

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