Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Travel Day: Hartford to LA

My journey back to the west coast started with a car ride from Watertown, CT to the Hartford airport. The car ride was a lovely hour trip through rolling hills and little towns. I rode with 3 other people from the conference I attended so it was a nice continuation of many of the conversations we had throughout the week. We stopped at Dunkin Donuts and I had my coffee fix and a sprinkled doughnut. Then we seemed to pass Dunkin Donuts every few minutes. We must have passed 10 of them before we got to the highway. We returned the car to the car rental location and were whisked to the terminal by the shuttle bus. Since I was hitching a ride I ended up at the airport 4 hours before my flight, so I had lots of time to kill. My friend and I went to eat some food since her flight was only an hour earlier than mine. After she left to catch her flight I walked around the terminal which isn't that big.

I wanted to find some postcards but none of them looked good. About 30 minutes before my flight was leaving I headed to the gate. They were already boarding and had oversold the flight. Apparently they made that announcement before I arrived, but I didn't hear it until they made another announcement. I volunteered because I was flexible with my plans. I was flying to LAX and there had to be a ton of other flights for me to get. It took them a really long time to figure out alternate flights. They were going to put me on another airline, but I refused because I wanted to accrue United miles and not some other airline's miles. So I demanded that they rebook me on another United flight. They said that I couldn't get out that day and they could get me out first thing in the morning. They offered to give me a hotel for the night and I asked for a Hilton or Doubletree and they found a room at the airport Doubletree. So I would be getting Hilton points from them too. About an hour later I was booked at the hotel, they retrieved my bag, and I had first class seats all the way to LAX on my flights the next day. I didn't think that was half bad of a deal. Besides I was so tired from my exhausting week-long professional development that I was happy to have a bed that wasn't a single dorm bed. The hotel is about a mile from the airport and I grabbed the free shuttle. They had my reservation ready and I headed up to my room and immediately took a nap. I don't remember how long I was out, but I woke up and showered to feel human again and went downstairs for dinner. 

Their restaurant had a nice bar so I sat there because it looks less sad than sitting at a table for one. I had my Hunger Games book with me so I was able to get some reading in. Right after I ordered the bartender asked me if I was with the airline. I had no idea how to take that. I said "no" but I was put in the hotel by an airline. I think they give discounts to airline personnel, so I think that's why he asked that question. At least that's the version I'm going with. After about an hour there I went back up to the room to pack up and get some sleep. Actually I ended up reading for another hour or so and then went to sleep. There was absolutely nothing near the hotel so I didn't venture out. The view from my room was not inviting at all. 

I had to wake up at 4:00am in order to catch my 5:50am flight to Chicago and connect to LAX. The morning came quickly and I was down in the lobby by 4:30am. I waited a few minutes for the shuttle and it was jammed packed with people about 12 in all. Crazy. So I went to the United counter to check my bag and thankfully I was able to use the first class check-in because the place was a zoo. They were pulling people out of the huge line if they were cutting it close to their departure time. 

Anyway, it took me all of 3 minutes and I was at security. There was barely a line there and I was through in a matter of minutes. I went to the gate to wait for my flight. This flight was packed too but I had a nice comfortable seat 1F. I slept most of the way but I managed to eat a snack box. About 2 hours later we were landing in the Chicagoland area. 
I remember a day when traveling on Saturdays and Sunday mornings was light and easy. No longer is that the case. The United terminal at O'hare was jammed with people. Every Starbucks in that terminal had a line at least 10 people deep. Forget it. I passed on my coffee. I didn't really need it but it would've been nice to have. I had a window seat so I didn't want to have to get out to pee several times during the flight (if I know I have an aisle seat then I am usually not concerned). My connecting gate was at the opposite side of the terminal.

I went from one end to the other and waited for my gate. I was one of the first to board my flight and I settled into my nice seat 2A. There was a lot of turbulence at the beginning of this flight as we flew through some of the weather that is apparent in the picture below.
Once that was over the flight was quite smooth and nice. They served a nice cheese omelet dish. They played some typical airplane movie with Reese Witherspoon and the guy from the new Star Trek. Why are all airplane movies the same thing? Also of note, the soccer team Charlotte Eagles were on my flight. That's never a good sign because you always hear how an entire team goes down in an airplane crash together. I don't want to be on that flight thank you very much. But we actually did make it all the way to LAX without incident and I got a lot of my book read in addition to a catnap. We arrived at LAX about 15 minutes early, which is rarely a good thing because invariably there isn't an open gate if you land too early so you sit and wait and then end being a little late while waiting for a gate to open up. Terminal 8 at LAX was hoppin' at 10:30am and I was very glad to be out of the east coast humidity and back home.  

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