The Answer My Friend, Is Blowing in the Wind

Bob and I travel a fair amount, and while we’ve endured many delayed flights over the years, we’ve never missed a connection. Until this Spring that is, when our flight out of Las Vegas into San Francisco was 55 minutes late. You’d think that wouldn’t be that long to mess everything up, but alas, it was. We had a 50 minute connection in San Francisco from our original flight arrival time until our flight to Medford was scheduled to depart. And, you guessed it, the Medford flight was right on time, and we missed our connection by about 10 minutes.enhance (1)

We were those people that ran over to our gate in the hopes we could still make it, only to find the ramp doors had been locked, and the plane had just pulled out of the gate. This was the last Medford flight for the evening, and, to compound things even further, the reason given for our delayed flight out of Las Vegas was weather. It wasn’t raining, it wasn’t snowing, and it didn’t even seem windy. But our flight was delayed because of weather. This meant we had to stay the night in San Francisco, and United would not compensate us because it was “out of their control.” They rebooked us for the 8am departure the next morning, and washed their hands of us, metaphorically speaking.

I tried to get some help at the customer service desk. Our plane had actually landed at SFO in time but then sat just off the gate in San Francisco for 10 or 15 minutes, waiting for another plane to head out. If we had been able to slide immediately in to our gate, we certainly would have made our connection. This too, according to United, was weather related. Planes leaving SF were backed up. Every plane except the one that was headed to Medford of course.

Bob in the meantime was logging in to www.hotels.com and www.hotwire.com, trying to find a nearby hotel at a reasonable price for a few hours so we could get some sleep. For future reference, when it’s 11pm and you need a hotel by the airport that evening, trust me when I say there are not many deals to be had. I think the hotels know they’ve got a hot buyer, and they’re apparently not going to offer any “we’ve got 50 rooms available and we’ll sell them at any cost” deals.

Our nearby room cost about $180 on hotwire, for five hours of sleep. This was a bargain based on the two hotels I called directly, who wanted to charge us $220. We considered “sleeping” in the airport, but we’ve done that before, and frankly, I’m getting a little too old for that nonsense. Sometimes you’ve just got to suck it up and pay the last minute hotel fee. We’ll never know what the “weather” was that delayed our flight, but it was totally out of our control. Apparently, it was totally out of United’s control too.

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Sleeping With My Clothes On

by Nancy Bestor

IMG_1609People in my family always say that I can sleep anywhere. I seem to have a knack for nodding off in cars, on buses, on airplanes, in (ahem) movie theaters and concerts, and even, I am sad to report, at dance recitals. In my defense, my daughter only appeared in two out of 20 numbers (although it seemed like 200), and the theater was dark, and the recital was way too long.

I’ve never been too worried when I can’t get a full night of sleep either. Maybe that’s because I have raised two children and when my youngest was a newborn she woke me every two hours for what seemed like years but was really more like eight weeks. I learned that I could operate on less sleep and catch up on my shut-eye when I next got the opportunity.

So I’m never too concerned when I take a red-eye flight, because I figure I will a) sleep sitting up on the plane with my mouth hanging wide open and occasional snorts coming out of my nose, b) walk around tired the next day at my destination, c) sleep well the following night and d) be energized and ready to roll on day two.

On a recent return flight from the Caribbean, our family had a lousy layover in Los Angeles from midnight until 6am. (Note to self: trips booked with frequent flier miles may be free, but they aren’t always convenient. Perhaps airlines do that on purpose.) We weren’t willing to buy a hotel room for the “night”, because by the time we got to the hotel from the airport and then returned to the airport from the hotel, we would have paid for sleeping in a bed for three hours at the most.

Thus we decided to “rough it” at LAX. We searched out the darkest, quietest and most deserted location that also had chairs that we could lie out on. What we found wasn’t very dark, quiet or deserted but we each took a row, and off to lullaby land we went. I admit to sleeping somewhat fitfully. But I did sleep for at least a few hours. I woke up every now and then, because I’m fairly certainly the airport employee operating the floor-cleaning machine was torturing me by cleaning the linoleum near my row over and over. (Come on! Was the floor that dirty?) When I would sit up to glare at the floor cleaner, I’d check on the rest of my fam, only to find them still stretched out in their rows, covered by their MicroFiber towel/blankets, snoozing away.

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Spending the night and trying to sleep in an airport is not ideal. But beggars can’t be choosers and that night we were beggars. But when we got home the next day, our beds were so comfortable.

Notes:

Here are the items I never travel without to promote sleeping on airplanes, buses, and, when pressed, in airports.

  • Earplugs. A crucial item for any type of travel! You never know when the people in the hotel room next door will be traveling with a teething baby, or the engines of a tiny propeller airplane will be so loud they rattle your teeth. Earplugs will help with all of the above! A small price to invest for a less cranky Nancy.
  • A Microfiber towel. This item doubles as a beach towel/hotel room towel, and a blanket. I find myself using it frequently when sitting in airports and on airplanes. Free airplane blankets really are a thing of the past.
  • Warm socks. If my feet are cold, I’m not going to be able to sleep. I often travel in sandals, but always toss a pair of socks into my carry-on bag, so I can slip off my shoes on the airplane and still keep my feet warm. I never want my bare feet to touch the airplane floor. I’m sure I don’t want to know what kind of germs are on that carpet.
  • I have at times traveled with an inflatable pillow, but since I fall asleep so easily, I don’t seem to have a need for it. Same goes for a travel eye shade. Apparently my eyelids provide all the shading I need. Many customers who are not as fortunate as me swear by these two items though, and I believe them!
  • Money Belt. I wouldn’t want to fall asleep in a public place if I didn’t have my passport, credit cards and cash protected. Normally I am a light sleeper, but every now and then I stay asleep while all kinds of things are happening around me. It’s easier for me to relax knowing my essential items are in a money belt on my person, and won’t be gone when I wake up. Sweet dreams!