Are long. And expensive. And can be quite boring.
From DAY to DXB is *really* affordable, round trip was about $1200 including all taxes and fees….. now had I flown from CVG, the Cincinnati airport a few miles closer to my Mama’s house, it would have cost me almost $800 more….. go figure. And CVG is a *much* larger airport than Dayton. Time-wise, it took me about 20 minutes longer to drive to DAY, so this was a no-brainer for me.
Turned in the rental car at the off-site location, and of course, no one was around to help lug the freekin suitcases out of the trunk and back seat….. so I figured it out, and got them all rolled up to where the shuttle bus came to pick us up. The driver loaded them for me, I got on, and suddenly thought – “Well, that’s probably the last time you’ll be driving for a while”….. and that was an odd feeling.
At the airport, the shuttle driver unloaded all the bags, and said “Is someone joining you?”….. I laughed and said “Nope, those are all mine…. I’m moving” he said “Oh – where are you moving to?” I said “Dubai, in the Middle East.” The man looked at me like I had two green heads with purple teeth. I tipped him and he got back in the shuttle bus, without another word.
I was across the street from the entrance, with 4 bigass suitcases and a heavy backpack… but, since I am the luckiest person I know, there was a porter, skycap, handler, whatever you call them, I saw across the street….. hadn’t noticed me yet, but I knew how to handle this…… “PORTER HEEERRRREEEE!!” Just like hollering for a beer guy in a football stadium over the crowd, thanks to Daddy (RIP) I had this skillset. Heads snapped up, and one headed my way with a big cart…… Success!
I headed inside to get in line at the United Counter in order to check the three monster cases while the porter piled luggage and wheeled it in. Now, see, before I finished packing remember that we’d weighed each of those monster cases…. Three times each, just to be dang sure that I wasn’t overweight. Apparently, not a calibrated scale, because the somewhat effeminate but very friendly gate agent that called me “Honey” a lot looked at them, put them on the scales, and said “2 pounds over” on the two biggest cases, and “OK” on the third smaller case. Well, I was NOT about to pay a brazillion dollars for overweight luggage, (averages about 8x the cost of regular bags!) so right then and there, I flopped those big cases open and started pulling stuff out…. Two sneakers = about a pound, for future reference. A big hooded sweatshirt weighs about the same, so the sweatshirt went tied around my waist, and the sneakers went in the smaller bag. Each biggie was still a half pound over, but the gate agent said “Honey, we are simply *not* gonna worry about a half pound in a bag – shoot, that could just be the humidity!” Smiled at me and tagged them, and handed me my receipts.
*whew*. Checking those big three bags at #50 each cost me about $300…… but to ship a 27# package to TBG a month earlier had cost $300 as well, so you can see that this was a true bargain in the freight transport scheme. OK, not a scheme, just in their world.
The first leg, Dayton – Washington DC, Dulles was a short trip, just under 2 hours. I’m glad, too, because it was on one of the tiny little regional jets, sat 1 in one row and 2 in another row. TBG had upgraded my flights to “Economy Plus”….. sposta have more leg room, seated closer to the front, etc. Sooo not worth the effort on this flight – mercy. Look at the seating chart!
On this particular flight, which was FULL, BTW, I was seated next to a window and a passenger of size. In a bulkhead seat, no underseat storage in front of you. *sigh*. Where are those airlines gate agents that are supposed to tell folks “honey, I hate to have to tell you this, but you’re gonna spill over into someone else’s seating area that they’ve paid for. You’re gonna need to buy another ticket for the additional room you’ll need”?? Obviously not on this flight, that’s for sure. Grrrr…….. a little annoying, but it was a short flight, I figured no biggie. I had already had to hand over my carryon rolling bag, because it was such a small plane there was no way to store the rolling bags inside the thing. No worries – I’ve done this a million times before, just grab it off the rack when you exit the jetway. Since I was one of almost the last to board, there was no over head room to store my backpack. This turned out to be a BIG potential problem.
The flight attendant said “all overhead is full, you’ll need to jetway check it – and she grabbed it and handed it out the door to the gate agent, who was at the end of the jetway standing on the edge, waiting to close the door…. The gate agent handed the backpack off to someone over the rail, and a tiny little part of me thought “this is probably not a good thing”…. And it wasn’t.
Landed at Dulles ahead of schedule thanks to a tailwind (so the pilot said), and was instructed by the flight attendant to “stand over here” to collect jetway-checked baggage….. so I moved to the side after we went down the stairs to the bottom. And waited. Spotted my backpack on a piece of lifting equipment, like a pallet jack or something….. and then it hit me. No baggage tag. Nothing to say it’d been through security, nothing that I had a receipt for, nothing. And the backpack wasn’t on the trolley with the rest of the jetway-checked stuff with a green tag, it was likely in the “suspicious bag” pile.
The baggage handler guy came over to us and hollered “OK, you can go collect your jetway checked bags”…. And everyone headed for the trolley. Except me – I said “wait – there’s one of my bags over there, on that piece of equipment – the black backpack”…. He said “no ma’am… that one’s not tagged. We’ll have to process it”…… At this point in time, I realized that inside it was my laptop, one of the iPads, my husband’s brand new iPhone5 that was still shrink-wrapped, my iPhone, my camera, daily meds, a copy of my power of attorney and our marriage authentication documents, without which I would never get a residency visa. All of the stuff that I was hand-carrying in order to not lose track of them.
They were over there. In the backpack. On the side, and I was not going to get them. I explained what had happened to the baggage handler guy, and he kept saying stuff like “homeland security” and “un-marked baggage” at which point I told him – “Great! My ID is all over and inside that bag, and I have the documents and passport to match in my handbag”…… which was safely tucked inside the freekin backpack. *sigh*….. he said “ma’am, I can’t let you have it….” And he said something else that I really didn’t hear because I was at that time, desperate.
I did something I rarely do, and did it intentionally. I started crying, sobbing about how my husband would never understand, and that all my meds, passport, documentation, his brand new iPhone that wasn’t even opened yet……… and the baggage handler did what most men do, he tried to quickly hand me off to the ramp supervisor, and explained to him what had happened, and I’m still wailing….. the ramp supervisor had apparently never heard a woman crying with great abandon before, because he looked kinda scared. He grabbed the backpack, checked the ID flap and handed it over and cautioned me to next time, get it tagged. They both shuffled me away as quickly as they could after we collected the other rolling bag. I thanked them profusely, and managed to stop crying. Finally, I’d made it to Washington DC.
A two hour layover gave me time to get a manicure and a pedicure, and to dash back to the gate just as the flight started boarding. Early.