Archive for June, 2008
Background: I had to fly to El Paso for a little memorial for my grandfather, who passed away last month. I made reservations on United to fly to El Paso with a plane change in Denver. My flight out of Oakland was supposed to leave at 5pm.
The story: It’s about 2:15pm on Monday. I decide to check on the flight status. Departure time still says 5pm. I then look to see where the plane was coming from (Denver, I think). I noticed that this flight was going to arrive 50+ minutes late into Oakland. I had a 50 minute connection in Denver. Alarm bells start to ring.
I call up United and, naturally, get connected to the call center in India. After a few minutes of bunching things into the computer, the man on the other end says “yes sir, I’m sorry, you’re going to miss your connection.” Gee, thanks. He offers to rebook me on another airline, which turned out to be US Airways (ugh). The flight time is 4:08pm — 50 minutes earlier than my original flight — and I haven’t packed yet.
The United guy says that he has to call US Air to arrange things. He puts me on hold, and doesn’t come back for 15 minutes. In the meantime, I’m throwing things into my suitcase, changing the cat litter, and uploading files to my web server. He comes back, apologizes for the delay, and gives me a confirmation number. I thank him and jump in the car.
I get to the airport and go to the US Air desk to check-in (I couldn’t do it online for reasons I’m about to explain). They can find me in their system, but A) my last name is misspelled and B) the ticket wasn’t issued properly. The agents were extremely helpful, and actually walked down to the United desk and got someone to issue the proper tickets. It’s something like 3:35pm at this point.
I head over to security with boarding pass in hand. It had the dreaded “SSSS” on it, probably due to the name change the agent had to make. Thus, I got pulled out of line for a secondary screening. First, I had to wait for a male TSA agent to appear, so he could pat me down. But the one male in the area was busy pushing a cart of those plastic tubs around, and made little effort to hurry. Finally he comes over, he scans my bags in the x-ray machine, and I walk through the metal detector. I get patted down and move on to the next phase. This phase involves having a TSA agent go through all my bags, wiping them down, and testing for explosive residue. I’m guessing that it was 3:45 or maybe 3:50 when this was all done.
I put my shoes back on and started to walk into the terminal when I heard “This is the last call for Phoenix passenger Jeff Keller, the aircraft door is about to close”. Uh oh.
Then it was off to the races. I ran through the terminal to my gate, which was naturally all the way at the end. I finally make it to the gate, give the guy my ticket, and make my way to the back of the CRJ900, what seems to be the biggest regional jet on earth (yuck).
Thankfully, the rest of the trip to El Paso was uneventful, if not a bit cramped.
After doing some work tonight, I headed over to Baker Beach to cool off, and watch the sunset. The sunset was great, and the cool breeze was more than welcome after days of record heat.
Hit the link for more pictures!
After ten days in Alaska, it was time to head south to prepare for our trip
home. We rode the Alaska Railroad back to Anchorage, sitting in Holland America’s
fancy McKinley Explorer cars. The ride was incredibly scenic, but very slow
(8 hours). After two days in a row sitting in buses for 7+ hours, I wasn’t
interested in sitting around again, so I spent most of the trip on the platform
downstairs, watching the scenery go by.
This is the final installment of my trip photos, as we fly home to SFO today
(Wednesday). I hope you enjoyed the trip as much as I did!
Day 9 of my trip was billed as the best day to see Alaska’s wildlife. While
it wasn’t quite the "zoo" that I was expecting, we still saw Denali’s most
famous residents: brown bears, caribou, dall sheep, and moose. Our tour lasted
nearly seven hours, with the excellent driver/guide making the time pass quickly.
Before that, though, we took a trip to the park’s sled dog kennel. Denali
still uses sled dogs to patrol the park in the winter, and we got to meet and
greet most of the dogs. They’re all remarkably friendly, and they seem to love
what they do. They did a little demo with 5 dogs on a gravel trail, and they
were really moving fast. It was also funny to see how excited the dogs
when they were getting the sled ready… lots of barking "choose me!".
Pictures of everything after the link!