Question: In what country did the loose Lawsons experience the most travel difficulties (not of our own making)?
Answer, surprisingly: Not abroad, as you might think, but in the good old USA.
I’ve already reported that not once in eleven countries did an airline lose our luggage. Only when we returned from Spain to the United States through Newark did United Airlines squirrel away my suitcase in New Jersey.
That was minor, though compared with our frustration with last week’s thwarted attempt to leave Kansas City after the North American Christian Convention. We held boarding passes for American Airlines 340 to Dallas, scheduled departure 12:58pm. There Joy and I were to split up. She was headed for St. Louis to help Kim and Ed settle into their new home. My destination was Portland, Oregon to see my younger brother John, who is rapidly fading in dementia.
We watched in growing disbelief at Gate 81 as the screen announced the following:
At 11:55am–flight delayed to 1:30pm.
At 12:07pm—Joy realized she would miss her Dallas connection. AA rebooked her on a later (much later) Dallas-St. Louis flight. It would depart at 11:55pm and arrive at 1:30 am. At this news she cancelled her flight, rented a car, and drove to St. Louis.
12:58pm– AA changed my flight’s departure to 2:40pm.
2:40pm–AA delayed 340’s departure to 4:40pm. I now had missed my Dallas connection.
3:06pm—AA 340’s new departure: 4:54pm.
4:31pm–AA 340’s new posted time: 6:49pm.
5:05pm—AA 340 now delayed to 7:35pm.
At this point I gave up when the agent insisted there was no way to get to Portland until the next afternoon. I still kept getting email messages, though. American Airlines gave me a voucher for an overnight stay in Drury Inn and vouchers for dinner and breakfast—to be redeemed only at the airport. The delays continued:
At 5:40pm, to 8:55pm.
At 6:29pm, to 9:50pm.
At 8:07pm, to 10:25pm.
Then at 10:49pm I received my last text. The new time for departure was now 10:45pm. (I didn’t understand this message, either.)
I’m writing this section of today’s post on Saturday morning at the desk in my Drury Inn room, reflecting on a lifetime of flying. I am a 2,000,000 mile Platinum member of AA’s frequent flyer program. In all those miles I never experienced a rolling delay like this one. We also had trouble checking in. We didn’t know then that our check-in was a harbinger of worse to come. I felt sorry for the agents who had to handle all of us disappointed and at times angry customers. (For once I wasn’t one of the intemperate ones.) It wasn’t the agents’ fault. But it was someone’s.
OK, that’s enough grousing. It feels kind of good, I must admit, to report a travel snafu that for once wasn’t our fault!
In fairness, I need to add that we saw several instances of exemplary customer service—the counter agents, the baggage department personnel, etc. The system was broken, but the laborers weren’t. I couldn’t help feeling, though, for really old people trying to get around. This would have been a tough, tough day for them. Fortunately, we didn’t see anyone older than we are. And we aren’t old. At least not that old.
Then this thought: I’m grumbling about a 24-hour delay in my travel plans. I’d be flying over much of the territory traversed by the pioneers who braved the Oregon Trail. It took them four to six months. I doubt they murmured about a mere one-day delay. Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
In Oregon I’m taking advantage of Jeff and Joan Terrill’s unfailing hospitality in Canby. In Wentzville (a western suburb of St. Louis), Joy’s enjoying free lodging at the Thompsons’ new house. Of course, she’s working for her rent, helping daughter Kim unpack and arrange her furnishings—many of them the same hand-me-downs from us that Ed hauled across America from Johnson City to Seattle just a year ago. I don’t even want to know what he thought of his in-laws’ stuff when he had to have it hauled back across the same trail to Missouri.
Me, I’m suffering through these days of Oregon summer. These pictures tell part of the story. There’s no way to describe the splendor this state puts on display each summer. Every time we revisit in the summer I asked myself, “What kind of fool would move away from this state?” Returning in the winter restores the balance.
This is a hasty trip, which means I’m not going to be able to visit so many friends I’d like to see. I’m trusting they will understand. My purpose was to visit John. I knew he would probably not recognize me. My coming was more for me than for him.
The trip has been worth the hassle. I found John settled in a clean, bright, comfortable care center where he is receiving the best of medical attention. In addition, his wife Sharon visits him every day accompanied (and driven) three days a week each by her sister Cheryl and her daughter Sandy. The tenderness of their care is touching. In addition, our cousin Kay and her husband Gary are always on call, making certain that both Sharon’s and John’s needs are attended to. I’ll leave Oregon with my heart much lighter than I when I came.
BREAKING NEWS. The brochure for our 2018 cruise on the Rhine River (October 28-November 5) has just become available online. You can find it at www.eo.travelwithus.com. Once on this web page, type Captivating Rhine River Cruise in the search window. Once there, simply download the brochure to your own computer and print it out. Then if you’d like to join us, let me know and I’ll help you with the registration form. I’ll add some more information in the upcoming posts. My host number, which you’ll be asked for, is 53975.