Friday, June 17, 2005
Looked like a stork but was just some other big ugly gray bird.
Posted by Zeus
All Documents needed for China - Check
Referral in hand from China - Check
Confirmation of travel date for group 103 - Check
More money than we have ever seen before, ready to go - Check
Airline tickets for travel - MIA
While we hope it's not, this could be a once in a lifetime trip to China so there are some things we want to see. Therefore, we too, are pre-tripping to Beijing. Since we are using Megan the Sky Waitress' buddy passes to fly standby, Michelle and Megan have been watching the flight loads diligently to ensure that we'll get on the flight of our choice. Friday, June 17th was selected as the day for us! Unfortunately, Friday's flights went bad. The flight filled up and it looked like we would have no chance of getting on. The decision was made to push back one day and go Thursday, June 16th.
One day doesn't seem that much earlier but when you are doing a trip like this it might as well have been two weeks earlier. We were not ready! Last minute packing, directions to others helping with our cats, and general craziness made the time go by really fast. Wednesday night came and we decided to take a quick nap and resume the packing. 3 hours later we were up and moving. Soon after that we were done and in the car ready to start our big adventure...at 4:30am. Megan drove us to LAX, put us on the plane to San Francisco and we were off! We landed in San Francisco and started our 5 hour wait until our flight to Beijing. There was lunch, a little nap and much people watching.
Then the desk crew arrived and the boarding began. The rush was on. This flight was over sold in coach. Almost 65 people had tickets that did not know if they were getting on this plane. We were not worried as we were on standby for business class. Traditionally once all the people were done upgrading from coach into business or first there were some seats left. Those seats usually went to those on standby. Business and first were not over sold on this flight so we were not worried about getting on.
Apparently tradition did not sit well with this desk crew and they decided to break tradition and began upgrading people randomly to open up coach seats for those who bought tickets for coach. This did not help us at all. When it started looking like everyone was boarding and they had not called our names yet, Michelle decided to go an inquire as to whether or not we needed to check in with them. She was cut off and dismissed by a very rude and harried crew member. She looked at Michelle and snipped "We'll deal with NRSAs after everyone else is boarded". That was that! At this point there was a bit of panic starting to set in. Surely we would still get on this flight? This was a very large plane and of course there was enough room all of us. We watched as the waiting area started to get empty and we were still sitting there. Finally, when all was said and done 7 people did not get on this flight. The two of us on standby and 5 others who had purchased tickets but were unlucky enough not to get boarded.
We were devastated. We stood there stunned, watching the flight we were supposed to be on backing away from the gate without us. Finally, we collected ourselves and headed to the baggage claim to locate our luggage which we secretly feared was on it's way to China. We hung out near baggage carousel 3 which sat silent and unmoving and waited for our lonely luggage to appear on it. After 20 minutes, I went in search of our luggage, and Michelle started to figure out a plan. I headed to the baggage services desk, and sure enough, our luggage was there! That was a relief. Except that the idiot woman at United who checked us in stapled Huang Yao's baggage tickets to our envelope and the guy didn't want to give me our bags! It was only because I could describe them, and their contents in detail and the fact that Michelle had put obnoxious neon lucite yellow-green luggage tags with our address on them- which I could recite- that he finally gave them to me.
By the time I got back to Michelle, she had recovered our abandond reservation at the LaQuinta Inn, and we decided to rent a car so we could go into the city for dinner. We purchased a Smarte Carte (worth every penny of it's $3) and trecked off to the car rental desk to fetch our tiny plastic Chevy and head to the LaQuinta to begin making use of their free internet connection to find a way to China!
We checked in, and unloaded the laptop and got to work. Michelle's Mom was already on the case and calling us with everything she could find. Unfortunately, our 3 hrs of sleep and the emotions of the day were beginning to take their toll. We decided to put down the cell phones and the laptop and go get some dinner. Neither of us had the strength to make the 17 mile drive to the Fog City Diner, so we settled for the early bird dinner at the Hungry Hunter 2 blocks away. The food helped, and we resumed the rescue operation as soon as we got back.
Unfortunately, the damage was done: not on the 16th flight; the original flight of the 17th was even worse- coach was over sold by over 70, and now business was oversold; all of the Sat & Sun flights were as bad as Friday. We now had to face the awful fact that we were going to have to buy tickets. Fortunately, Michelle's Mom had sleuthed out a good deal on EVA, but it was going to Hong Kong instead of Beijing...and we couldn't leave until the 21st. Not only were we about to spend a small fortune to go to China, we were about to miss seeing Beijing. To top it off, the flights home from San Fran on Friday were packed and the first flight we stood a reasonable chance of getting on was at 10:00 at night! This was the final straw, so we took showers and Tylenol Simply Sleep, shut off our cell phones, and called it a day at 7pm.