I’m back from possibly the quickest vacation I’ve ever taken. Or at least that’s what it felt like. In reality we had four days in Grenada, which is nothing to sneeze at. It was supposed to be five days, but, well, that didn’t happen. I’ll leave the bashing of American Airlines to the professionals: here here and here. I will tell you about my own trip and leave it to you to add certain expletives and derisive laughter.
Our trip began in the wee hours of a September Sunday. Needing to leave the house around 3:30 am, we opted to stay up all night rather than sleep for a few hours and fight our way awake when our bodies would clearly know we should be sleeping. Thankfully I have kind parents who agreed to both pick up and drop off the fiance and me at LAX (which is not the closest airport to our house). So, off we went at 3:30 to LAX, which is a particularly ugly and worn out airport despite being one of the busiest in the world. And despite it being a carmageddon weekend, we arrived at the airport quickly. We breezed through check-in and security. Everything seemed to be going smoothly.
It’s always when I think thoughts like “everything is going so well” when things stop going well. There has long been the superstition about saying positive things out loud, lest the gods hear you and decide to toy with you. But I wasn’t aware that my mere thoughts had the same power.
After boarding the flight and popping a Xanex, we quickly fell asleep. The fiance stayed that way, I was not so lucky. If we had been winging our way across the Southern States, I probably would have stayed asleep, lulled into REM by the drone of the engines. Instead, I was awoken every 15 minutes by the captain updating us on the status of a mechanical problem. Essentially the equivalent of the “check engine” light had come on without any indication that there was something actually wrong with engine. We simply had to wait while the mechanics played a game of hot and cold in the underbelly of the plane. I half expected the captain to stick his head out the window and while the mechanics yelled up:
“What if I do this? Does that change anything?”
“OK, what about now?”
“All right, let’s try this. Anything!?”
I would’ve liked to sleep through all of this but the captain felt the need to reassure us and keep everyone updated on the progress. Very considerate of him. It made me want to punch someone.
When we finally took off, just shy of two hours late, the flight attendants were scurrying around getting flight information from everyone and their mom (literally) to make sure connecting flights could be made. I wasn’t worried though. We had a two-hour window between our next flight’s boarding time, so we should be ok, we’d just have to book it.
And everything would have been fine, had we not lost our parking space due to our tardiness. Our plane had no place to unload us all, and since this was Miami and not the tiny island paradise we wanted, we couldn’t just jump out on the tarmac. So we waited. And waited. And when we finally found a spot, the flight attendants asked everyone to let those with a connection through first, which of course no one did. Not that I can really blame them. What should have been about a four-hour flight was now pushing seven. Everyone wanted off the plane, NOW.
Because the gods heard my thoughts earlier, our connecting flight was in a distant wing of the airport. We sped walked through the airport, and made it to our gate, just in time…to watch it pull away….five minutes early.
The fiance just about lost his damn mind at this point, so I did all the rebookings, the haggling, the writing of angry emails. First of all, the fact that American has a rebooking center in the middle of a terminal did not inspire a lot of faith in me that things were going to go well from this point on. Then they wanted us to spend a night in Miami and take two more flights the next day to get to our destination sometime the following evening. Nope, not going to happen. Since I was the only one at the counter neither yelling or crying, the woman helping me was very kind and understanding. She immediately started working on a plan to get us to Grenada asap before I even turned down the first plan. I’m not sure why she even told me unless it was some kind of legal thing, like “I’m required by law to tell you how much American Airlines hates you.”
We were scheduled for a flight to Trinidad and Tobago for 7pm, landing in Trinidad around 10pm; then off to Grenada at 7am the next morning. We would be given meals and a hotel room for the night. All of that would be handled by the American Airlines representative in Trinidad when we arrived.
Fine. I wasn’t happy about it but at least we had a plan. We’d missed a night in Grenada, which we couldn’t refund since it was part of a package nor could we add it on to the end of our stay since we had to get back to Connor and the dogs. Despite all this, at least we would get there early enough to enjoy a full day in Grenada. We’d sleep in Trinidad, have a hot breakfast and be on our way.
It was after our plane landed in Trinidad at 11:40pm and all the counters were closed and no American Airlines representative could be found, that I began to wonder if maybe I was cursed.
There’s a passage in a Douglas Adams book that describes a man who hates the rain. He hates it so much that he has dedicated time to cataloging all 120+ types of rain that he despises. And yet rain continues to follow him wherever he goes. It makes him miserable! Little does he know that he is actually a rain god and the rain just wants to be near him to literally shower him with their love.
As I stood in the silent, empty terminal in Trinidad, crying, I wondered if perhaps I am a goddess of chaos. Instead of all the chaos particles shooting rapidly and randomly around the universe, they were attracted to me, clinging to me in their desperate love and adulation. I am Eris reborn! (Note how close Eris is to Erin. Coincidence? I think not.)
Finally a woman showed up to deal with us, but I was incoherent in my tears, so the fiance took over, maintaining his temper I think more out of pity for me than in justice for the airline representative. She set us up with dinner vouchers, taxi vouchers (to and from) and a hotel voucher. Our dinner choices were: KFC, Subway, Church’s chicken, or Pizza Boy. Our hotel was 30 minutes away from the airport. Our taxi vouchers were good but we had no money to tip with so he got US dollars.
We briefly considered staying at the airport all night since it took us an additional hour to get through immigration, and then another 30 minutes to get through customs (with no bag, mind you, since my suitcase had made the flight we missed to Grenada). It was nearly 1am and I needed to sleep.
And sleep I did. For three hours. We got to our room about 1:30 and left at 4:45 to catch our 6:40 flight to Grenada.
We boarded our flight Monday morning not having slept since Friday night, nor had a shower, nor changed since Saturday. The smile I pasted on my face must have looked slightly deranged because I got more than a few strange looks. Or perhaps it was the slick layer of sweat that coated my body. Or the fact that I’d ditched by bra in my carry-on bag (don’t worry I had an extremely supportive built-in bra camisole on…).
Just 45 minutes later, we were in Grenada. All we had to do now was get my suitcase. Easy peasy. It was 8am, it shouldn’t be that hard to find one piece of luggage in a tiny airport. And as it turns out, it wasn’t difficult at all. They knew exactly where my luggage was. But I would have to wait until every single person in line had been checked into their flight before we could go get it, despite the fact that I had already waited in that line. So that meant I had to wait until people behind me in line were helped before I was.
At this point I wished I WAS the goddess of chaos! If I was ERIS I could simply lay waste to the airport around me! I could turn everyone into a pillar of salt or something! I’d breathe fire at least, right?
The fiance looked as incredulous as I felt when the woman told me to wait. I just smiled my deranged smile (which I think shows a lovely resemblance to the Joker) and waited. I was no longer at the end of my rope. There was no rope. The rope had ceased to exist. There may have been a faint memory of a rope existing sometime in the distant past but I couldn’t even call to my mind what having a rope would feel like. I felt only anger, impatience, anger, frustration, and anger.
Finally after all the passengers for the 10am flight had been checked in, the woman led me back through the airport, through security, through customs, back to baggage claim where she grabbed the one bag that was in the office: mine. It took all the remaining strength of will not to just start shaking her. Instead I silently walked out with my bag in tow. I walked past the empty immigration desks because there was just no way I was waiting any more. I walked and walked and walked, until finally I broke into the sunshine, found the fiance, our driver, and let them sweep me off.
We slept for five hours at the hotel, ate, swam, ate and slept again. Not the first day I had envisioned, but at least I had this view: