# Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I flew to Minnesota and back, and then after 36 hours home I flew to Seattle, changing planes in Chicago. That's 4 legs in 3 days and 2 of those legs were significantly delayed by mechanical problems. Yikes! I hope I've used them up for a while. The delay leaving Chicago was caused because the guy driving the baggage ramp bumped into the plane and dented it. They had to get a structural engineer to pronounce judgement on whether the size of the dent meant the plane was out of service.

And the lining up and identifying yourself is reaching epic proportions. Here's how it went for Minnesota: drive to Park N Fly. Walk in, put down suitcase and carry-on, tell someone who I am, get piece of paper, pick everything up. Walk 20 feet to Air Canada desk, put everything down. Tell someone who I am and prove it with passport, also show air miles card in case the travel agent didn't pass it along. Receive piece of paper. Walk outside and wait for bus. Put everything down. Bus comes. Pick everything up, go on bus, tell driver which terminal I want, put everything down.

Reach my terminal, pick everything up, go inside, wait in line to recieve baggage tag. Prove who I am by showing passport and boarding pass. Answer questions about my packing and my luggage. Pick everything up (including bag which will be with me through several more lines yet.) Show boarding pass to prove I am allowed into immigration area. Line up for US Immigration. This line is about 45 minutes long so I am pulled out after ten minutes into much shorter line. Reach immigration guy. Show passport, boarding pass, customs form which I had filled out while waiting in some line or another. Answer questions. Admitted. Pick everything up, walk 20 feet, hand customs form to some other guy. Walk 50 feet, join lineup to have checked baggage x-rayed. Wait while bag comes out. Wait. In there a long time. Eventually it's rejected so I have to carry it over to some other table and wait patiently and non-threateningly while someone hand-searches it. Then she escorts me (I feel so trusted) to the conveyor belt. At least that's gone. Now me and my carry on are headed for the next security checkpoint. Take out laptop and cell phone. Take off coat. Show boarding pass again. Take off shoes because they always set off the metal detectors. Get told off by security people for putting shoes in tray, they must go directly on belt. Whatever. Wait for my stuff. Wait some more while they swab the laptop and hand search my bag to find a suspicious looking pen. Once it was out in the open air it was pronounced safe and returned to me. Put everything back in the bag. Head for gate.

Oh dear. Gate is downstairs. That means, yes indeed, join line up to wait for shuttle bus. Get on bus. Ride to other side of airport. Find subgate. Wait. We are moved to another subgate; pick everything up to walk 100 feet to new subgate. Wait some more.  Ah, finally, we're boarding. Show boarding pass and passport. Onto plane. Don't forget to turn off cellphone! Put everything away and out of reach. I'm a nervous wreck!

Coming to Seattle I had an extra step in all of that -- though I didn't get my luggage hand searched this time -- because I was flying business class (using up my points in case Air Canada really goes bust this time) so I had to prove my identity at two business-class lounges, though I can't really complain about that. I was traveling on one hour sleep (I would have had two if not for the time change) so I kind of zoned through the whole thing and don't really remember much of it.

And airlines wonder why plane travel hasn't picked back up?

Tuesday, April 06, 2004 8:10:55 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #