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Ohio Trip—Day 1: an inauspicious start Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Last Friday, my day began with a 6:30 trip to the airport. So far, so good.

Walking onto the departures level, I checked my itinerary for the flight—8:45 a.m. from PDX to PHL (Philadelphia) arriving at 4:53 p.m., followed by a 5:50 p.m. flight from PHL to CMH (Columbus, Ohio) arriving at 7:32.

Great ... but which airline? I couldn't remember! I thought I remembered a "U" logo, so I looked at the United Airlines board. Hmmm... no flights to Philadelphia.

One of the agents nearby sensed my concern as I searched through my papers for some indication of which nearly bankrupt corporation would be transporting me across the continent. If you're going directly to Philadelphia, she said, it's US Airways. Thanks, I said, as I hauled my gear a quarter mile down the lobby to the second-farthest ticket counter.

The airline personnel kindly told me that the price of the ticket only included one checked bag. Additional bags were $25 each. So I checked my suitcase—the lightest of the three items—and kept my backpack and camera gear with me.

Going through security with two large packs full of camera gear, a laptop, and various bits of electronica can be an adventure. Strangely, none of these tripped me up—nope, it was my toothpaste, the last ounce in my tube, which was promptly confiscated by the TSA. [I should mention, however, that I saw one of the flight attendants on that flight brushing her teeth with a full tube on the counter beside her.]

Our departure from Portland was delayed by about 30 minutes due to some weather on the east coast. That's right—though we had a five-hour flight clear across the continent, we were delayed by something happening 2500 miles away.

I forgot to buy a book before I left, and the in-flight movie (27 Dresses) was clearly not worth watching. So I did every crossword, sudoku, and word puzzle in the in-flight magazine.

Having declined the $7 in-flight breakfast/lunch, I was a mite peckish when we arrived in Philly. But with only 30 minutes before my next flight I didn't think I would have time to eat. Of course I was a little bit happy to see that my connecting flight was delayed by an hour. I scarfed down some Chinese food and found a seat at the gate only to discover that my flight had been postponed for another 1-1/2 hours. According to the chatter in the waiting area, many other flights had been postponed repeatedly and eventually canceled. Needless to say, I was a little less than optimistic about my chances of making the 8:30 a.m. call time for Saturday morning's shoot. I bought a book to read.

We finally landed in Columbus a little after 11 p.m., more than 3-1/2 hours late. Cursing the two-hour drive I still had to make, I waited by the luggage carousel for my suitcase. And waited. And waited. Then the luggage handler guy shut the belt down and said that was everything from the flight. So my next stop was the luggage handling office—"For privacy, only one customer in the office at a time."—and filled out some paperwork as three or four other passengers did the same. Visions of my suitcase chasing me from city to city danced through my head as I explained to the airline personnel that I would be on the move over the weekend. They promised to call before sending the suitcase anywhere.

I picked up my rental car and called the manager for the shoot to let him know that I didn't have the requisite dark suit to wear for the shoot. Actually, it turns out I called the manager for the adjacent region ("Mid-Central" sounds like it would include Ohio, no?), but he was very helpful. As I drove south from Columbus he found a 24-hour Wal-Mart near my hotel and said that the company pay for whatever I could find to wear. Yay, I thought, clothes shopping at 2 a.m. in Portsmouth, Ohio! Does it get any better than that?

About half an hour later, still on my way to Portsmouth, I got a call from the airline who said they had my luggage at the airport in Columbus. I again explained my itinerary, and they said they would send it on to my Saturday night hotel in West Chester. But when I mentioned that I was about to head out shopping, they found a way to get it to my hotel overnight. I canceled my shopping trip, checked in to the hotel at about 2 a.m., got some toothpaste from the front desk and borrowed some contact solution from my room mate (whom I'd never met before), and went to bed.

At 7 a.m. (4 a.m. Pacific time) the alarm kicked me out of bed, disoriented and tired, hardly ready for a long day of work. But that will have to wait until the next post ...


Fly on the Wall said...

wow. what a day.