Vega$ was fun up until the return (I blame Alaska Air)

Last Thursday (3/31) I flew down to Las Vegas with my buddy Greg.  We were going down to watch the Seattle Mariners play their last two Spring training games against the Chicago Cubs.  I will blog about Spring Training as a whole (I still never really wrote about my trip to Arizona in early March to watch Cactus League play) in another posting.  Greg and I had booked separate flights and while I could not get on this flight down we both were on the same return flight.  His flight was about an hour after mine so no big deal, we drove to the airport together and then he just hung out and waited for his flight went he could not get on my flight, standby.  The flight down on Alaska Air was uneventful and two hours and two minutes later I was in Las Vegas.  Our return flight was set for 10:55 pm on Saturday (4/2) night.  We left the strip at about 9:15 and gassed up the rental car for its return.  By the time we got on the shuttle bus for the car rental return it was already 10 pm.  Greg ran down to the Alaska air counter because he was not able to do e-ticket check-in.  He is an unfortunate victim of 9/11.  Someone with his same name is on a watch list for traveling so he has to wait in the regular line and then they take his ID away and then come back 5-10 minutes later and tell him he is OK to fly.  What a hassle and someday the paperwork he filed will go through and he will not be hassled anymore.  The Vegas airport has unified e-ticket terminals where you can check in for most airlines but I still wondered down to the Alaska counter to check in and I am glad I did.  I punched in my confirmation code and it did not work.  I did it a second time and it did not work.  It was then I noticed that no one was really around.  I guess I did not consider it strange as we were pushing the hour check-in before a flight.  Greg was already waiting in a long line but to me it looked like he was in the line for Independence Air which was the next counter over (Alaska air is at the very end of the counters in the corner).  I saw one person waiting in the Alaska air First Class/MVP and I just got in line behind them.  While I waited I noticed that the sign behind the counter stated that if you do not check in at least 30 minutes before your flight you can lose your assigned seat and also your reservation.  After waiting 15 minutes while it looked like the guy behind the counter was just on hold – he was not talking with the person at the counter nor on the phone he finally asked me if I need any help.  I told him I was on a flight that was leaving in less than 45 minutes.  He asked if I was on a flight to Seattle and when I said yes he said my flight was canceled.  My first thought was why did the airline not call Greg or myself or email us or text message us or do something.  He told us that Alaska had a reservation for us on America West that left at 11:55 pm.  He gave us an Alaska air care package that contained a $5 food voucher and a calling card along with a form to fill out that was worth 1000 air miles.  OK I though no big deal now we do not have to totally rush and we will get home about an hour later.
We walked over to the America West line and it was just huge!  Unfortunately, we did not have e-tickets on the re-issue from Alaska (there was next to no line there).  Why there was such a big line at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night I would never know but this did not look good.  Greg stood in line and I took the time to sit down and boot up my laptop because I needed to get some addresses from Outlook to write on postcards.  I noticed that Las Vegas now has free Wi-Fi which is great because most airports charge.  20 minutes later Greg calls me and says he is finally into the queue portion of the line and I should catch up to him.  I go cut with him in line and I start to time how long it is going to take to snake back and forth in the line.  Greg was told it would take less than a half hour to snake through.  The first segment of the line took about 10 minutes and we still had five more equal length segments to go.  This did not look good.  Luckily the rest of the segments only took three minutes each.  It was 11 pm when we finally got our tickets.  Greg pointed out that our boarding passes had “SSSS” on them which was the sign that we had been selected for extra screening.  I guess this is fairly standard practice when you book tickets day of – but I am not quite sure why they would not make an exception when it is an airline that does the booking.  We went up stairs and the security line looked line but I have had faith that these lines move quick.  I ran over to the mail drop (about a five minute walk) and called Greg to tell him to not wait for me.  He told me to not bother with the main line and that they had already told him at the first check point to get in the far right line.  This line moved extremely slow.  You do the standard x-ray pass and then they do a full hand mettle detector after the normal detector.  They then pat you down.  You then get to watch them finish to search all of your bags.  They did chemical scans and waited for the results to come back.  Greg was about six people ahead of me in this line and they were already far into boarding our flight before he even got out of the line.  I had about 17 minutes before my flight was supposed to pull away from the terminal when they finally gave me my boarding pass back and I still had at least a 10 minute walk to the gate.  I ran carrying a heavy bag and a laptop bag.  The thing was that I had needed to go to the bathroom for at least an hour and I really wanted to change our of my Teva sandals before I got to the plane.  I made the bathroom stop and then hurried on.  I had four minutes before the plane was supposed to leave when I got to the gate.  I asked if I had time to change my shoes and she said I could do so only if I did so on the breezeway.  I was the last person to get on the flight.  It was great to see that it was not too crowded and Greg and I had the middle seat free.
At 12:03 am. the pilot got on the intercom and told us that there would be a delay.  One of the 400+ computers on the plane was having a problem and it would take the tech 20 minutes to figure out was wrong.  My first thought was maybe if America West had bought Boeing planes instead of these French made Airbus we would not have this problem (Airbus is the biggest part of America West’s fleet).  12:16 am he gets back on the intercom and lets us know that the tech and the flight deck have solved the problem but they have not let the pilot know what the problem was.  A few minutes later he told us that their solution was to replace the computer but we still had to wait 20 minutes while paperwork was filled out before we could push away from the gate.  The plane is kind of warm.  I am totally dehydrated.  Right then I was thinking that I could have really used my $5 voucher for even a bottle of water.  We finally push away at some point around 12:35 am.  I turn to Greg and point out that we should have been landing in an hour on our first flight and now we still have two hours to go except for the fact that it is “spring ahead” for daylight savings and we lose an hour.  We land at 3:50 am.  For some reason we pull into gate S, primarily used for international flights and so we have to take the tram back to the main terminal.  After waiting for the shuttle to take us back to Masterpark and driving home I finally got home at 5 am!  Needless to say I did not see how I was going to get up to get to church which would have been a really good thing considering that the Pope had died.


About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
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