Slipups should be part of the travel adventure -- Part 2

Marge Flados

Our flight to Seattle where we were to catch a cruise to Alaska was to depart at 5:30 A.M. which required our leaving for the airport at 4 in the morning. On arrival we found ourselves at the end of a long check in line and after a short time, we noticed no one was moving an inch closer to the agent behind the counter. Finally word filtered back to us that the flight was cancelled. This presented a real problem. Bill suggested we just cancel the whole trip and take it later.

We were shocked since our travel schedules had to work or we could miss our cruise ship’s departure. After a moment of desperation I slipped under the aisle barrier and scooted over to the South West Airline counter and was told they were checking in passengers to Houston and taking off on time. I told the agent we had been told Houston was socked in. The agent said skies were clear in Houston according to their information. There were two seats left on the plane, which he agreed to hold for 5 minutes as I scooted back to where Bill was waiting and told him we could get to Houston on SWA. After buying tickets and checking bags we talked to the American agent and cancelled the Harlingen-Houston leg of our tickets which seemed to be a bit more complicated than it should have been.

We boarded the plane to Houston which was scheduled to land at 7:35 A.M. However SWA lands only at Hobby Airport which is across town from Bush International and it left a rather short interval for us to get across town to catch our originally reserved flight to Seattle. We found out from one of the flight attendants that because of bad weather the night before the fresh crew that was to fly the American plane that morning had not arrived and that was the reason the flight was cancelled. There was no crew to fly the plane.

On arrival at Houston Hobby our stress level remained high and since I was still recovering from hip surgery I had ordered a wheelchair which was waiting for me along with a “pusher” and I told him we had to get across town and catch a connecting flight in an hour and fifteen minutes and we needed the best taxi driver in the world. We collected our bags and raced out of the terminal and he pushed past about 6 taxis before stopping by one and said, “This is who you want”. He held out his hand and Bill put money in it but he continued to hold his hand out until Bill added some more to it.

Our taxi driver was a robust black woman with smiling eyes and when we told her our plight, she said it was no problem for her to get us to Bush International on time. She then leaned over and put our two heavy bags in the trunk as if they contained feathers. She looked to be in her late 50 s, was very friendly and talkative. She told us she had been driving a cab for 25 years and knew how to avoid morning rush hour traffic, and knew where all the cops hid out in order to catch early morning speeders.

Then she told us she was a “Cougar” and that she had just changed boyfriends. She had left her old boyfriend and found a really nice younger one. She had us laughing and totally relaxed as we entered Bush International Airport and parked at American’s departure area. It was about 8:45 and she hopped out of the cab, grabbed our bags and said, “I told you I could get you here on time!” What a delightful person she was.

We entered the terminal and encountered another long line to the check in area. That was when we both realized we were not going to make this flight. It was time for action. There was a very old fellow in a blue uniform managing the line formation and leaning on my cane, I slipped under the rope and told him our sad story and asked if there was any way we could get through the line faster, “ I no longer had my wheel chair, only a cane, but he said, “Yes, go to the head of the line and be sure to hobble and limp real bad and they will let you through” I then proceeded to limp, look pitiful and fragile…and we were indeed allowed to pass through ahead of the others. We practically ran, or what passes for running for the two of us, toward Security and another line.

However, this line was moving fast and we waited our turn and took off down the concourse to our gate which was further away than we expected. Upon arriving at the gate we lined up to be checked in and when we were face to face with the agent; I rested my cane on the counter and requested that a wheel chair be available on landing because I knew the SEATAC Airport was a large one. He assured me he would handle it, and then told us our flight was delayed. I said, “For how long?” And in a nasty little voice he said “When I know, I will let YOU know.” My cruise literature said to always let your agents know your destination time frames so I proceeded to tell him we had a cruise to catch out of Seattle and we would miss it if the plane was really late. Well this twit showed no interest in my real concerns and curtly snapped, “Go sit down and I will let you know when the plane is ready to board.” It took all my self-control not to smack him with my cane.

We took our seats with the rest of the prospective travelers and fortunately in about 35 minutes we were boarding. The plane took off and we sat back in our seats with pounding hearts and agreed we would probably make the dock by 4 P.M. I also requested a wheelchair on landing in case the twit had forgotten to do it. Little did we know. Stay tuned for the rest of the story

Marge Flados resides in Harlingen and can be reached at nflados@gmail.com.

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