Feb 7, 2014

Joy of Travel


I usually fly United.  Not that I like them over any of the other – actually, Southwest is becoming my new favorite – but I have a lot of flier miles with United.   So I know United’s process & procedures pretty well.  Usually I don’t check luggage because I am not gone that long and fly light.


Flying has really become a “do it yourself” activity.  From online reservation to online check-ins.  If you’re a survivor, you can do it!  My 19- year-old Marine son, McCain, just went across the country and dealt with delays and cancellations and rerouting that added up to almost 23 hours of travel and he survived (and was a lot more chipper about it than I would be).  I remember the days when your knees did not hit the seat in front of you and hot meals were provided and drinks were free.  But today, flying is no longer a luxury but a necessity.  And as “customers”, we aren’t treated very well.




So we flew to Chicago on American Airlines.  Five days of travel, snow expected, temperature of training room unknown... I didn’t pack as light as I usually do and had to check my bag.  Are you kidding me?  $25 on top of an already expensive flight?  But whatever.  I tried to check in online the night before and their website said I couldn’t so I checked in at the kiosk (a job that used to be done by people) and then took my bag to the counter to be tagged & shipped for $25.  It was an uneventful check-in; 5 days later, I couldn’t tell you if it was a man or a woman who checked me in.  I was obviously in travel-robot mode at the time.




So fast forward to my return trip.  Again, I had tried to check-in online and was once again denied.  So we arrive at O’Hare and pass all the empty counters of “priority” check –in (fully manned but with no customers, I noted) to get to the “business class” check-in – or what I refer to as “steerage”.   I got to the kiosk and swipe my card, swiftly clicking thru the check-in process and once again, paying the $25 fare for my bag to get home.  This time it prints out the baggage tag.  So not only do I have to pay to send it home, I have to tag it myself, too.  (No doubt next time I’ll have to go out on the tarmac and hand toss it in the belly of the plane!)




Granted, I was tired.  I just sat through a 4-hour test and have been away from home for 5 days and the wind is blowing and its –14 below zero.  And of course I had hot flashes in the cab ride to the airport.  I was carrying my winter coat, an oversized purse, and I didn’t have my reading glasses on.  But it was very clearly printed on the baggage sticker to “peel here” and in the same sentence, telling me to save as my baggage claim.  I found no perforated edges to tear off that claim ticket from what needed to go on my bag.  What the hell?  I put the long end of the sticky tape around the handle of my bag and left the “peel off” part intact.  I got up to the counter and told the (customer service?) rep that I really can’t figure out where to tear this as I really don’t want to have a sticky-sided baggage claim tag.  The dude behind the counter went on to tell me that I had attached the wrong end to my bag. 




Now I may be blonde, but when they say, “Peel off and save” I assume they are talking about the part that the “peel off and save” is attached to.  I am not stupid!  And I expressed my frustration as he peeled it off my bag to re-do. 


And do you know what he said? 

“Did you watch the video?”

I said, “Video?”

He said, “Yes, about checking baggage.”

At that moment, I could have kicked him right between the ...... ears.


Instead I said I did not watch a video and that I have been flying for 40 years (slight exaggeration) and up to this point in my life, I have not needed a video on how to check a bag and for $25, I don’t think I should have to!


Now I realize at this point, my bag may end up in Traverse City, Michigan instead of Omaha, Nebraska because I got lippy.  And really, I don’t normally get lippy with service people – especially airlines where I am at their mercy.  But this was turning into a quite ridiculous conversation.  Just rehashing it, I still feel like kicking him… somewhere.




On a happier note, I have always enjoyed traveling to Chicago.  I am a country girl at heart, but I do like the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago.  The people are just like a bunch of Nebraska folk only dropped into a bigger city.  I never feel outclassed in Chicago like I do when I travel to places like Philadelphia or Los Angeles. 



Our company is very generous with our hotel accommodations.  We most often stay at a Marriott and this week we stayed at the JW Marriott in downtown Chicago. 




I love when the old buildings are made grand again.  This one was –catch-your-breath gorgeous. 




Beside being beautiful, it was nice being treated like a customer.  When checking in the gal at the registration desk told me she had a “lovely room” for me with a “wonderful soaking tub.”   And it was.




And while bottled water is normally not worth mentioning, it was provided in the room along with a bottle of wine and some treats at a (not-so-small) cost.  Interestingly enough, however,  on the second day, next to my bed, was 2 small bottles of Vasa brand bottled water.  Now I have seen Vasa water before – most often at airports but had never been provided with bottled water at bedtime.  When asked, my business associates said they were not given any extra water and none of the other bottles were Vasa brand.  So I’d like to think it was just a special touch to give their guests with the same name the Vasa water. 




I am happy to report that my bag did arrive successfully in Omaha, despite my smart mouth.  And after a careful Google search, I did find a video referencing American Airline baggage check. 


It’s good to be home. 


  1. Never fly American again.

    I'm a Southwest fan, and I tell them that and 'why' every time I fly. I want them to know that I love that they don't charge for my bags. Maybe they really do, somewhere in their fees, but at least they do NOT upsell me at the counter. Thank you, Southwest.

    I also appreciate that they serve peanuts. And soft drinks. Free.

    I resent the airlines that charge me to check baggage and then whine and complain because EVerybody is carrying on huge bags (the size that the airline approved, btw..). I'm not so much a fan of self-help flying. At the prices they charge would it kill them to smile and say, "Here, let me do that for you." ?

  2. Hee hee this made me smile. Luckily I don't have to travel much (I'd like to see more of the World but hate to fly :) I've only flown on Alaska and United once to NYC-literally the day after the second big terror attack warning, the one where you couldn't take on any liquids?? I was a nervous wreck!! I was flying alone for the first time ever and had to get to the airport at like 2 am just to deal with with delays with all the new security stuff.

  3. I am not watching that video. If I ever have to fly United, I will play dumb and take the suitcase to the person at the desk and say, "I can't figure out how to do this." I won't even try. That makes me so mad. Like your other commenter, I love Southwest. The last time we flew home from Texas to Philly on Southwest, we had this gay flight attendant who told jokes and entertained us the entire way. He even sang. He had the whole cabin in stitches. I always have good trips with Southwest but this one was over the top.

    Wow, that hotel is fancy. Made up for it, huh?


I am so glad you stopped by and look forward to hearing from you! Do come again.