September 5th, 2004


A bit late on this ...

040829-003aI warned you on Thursday that I might very well be typing up the chaos of our trip, and here it is! A week and a half ago we headed down to Florida (you know ... that state that's currently more-or-less underwater) to get trained in our new business venture. The Wife's father lives in Jacksonville, and we were getting trained in Tampa on Thrusday and Friday, so we were planning on flying down to Jacksonville on Wednesday morning, having a day with them while handing over The Girls, and then drive down to Tampa in the afternoon. Splendid plan ... unfortunately, things did not go quite that way thanks to a whole chain of SNAFUs which could have been easily avoided with a bit more communication.

First of all, we were flying United Express ... which is actually Air Wisconsin. They fly little bitty (50 seats or so) planes like the one pictured below. We had booked our trip on-line via Travelocity and got all sorts of information about our arrangements ... the one piece of information that they seemed quite interested in communicating to us was that the flight left from O'Hare's "Terminal 2", rather than the regular United gates of "Terminal 1". As this piece of information came up repeatedly, I took note of it, and, when we headed out to O'Hare on Wednesday morning, told the taxi driver that we needed to go to Terminal 2. What they hadn't communicated to us was that there was no way to check our luggage for our flight at Terminal 2 AND that there is a new "security" measure in place that you can't check your bags any closer to your flight's departure than 45 minutes prior!


Now, I am no "novice traveller", so we'd scheduled ourselves to get to O'Hare with (what we thought was) plenty of time to spare. We got to Terminal 2 about 1:15 before our flight was due to take off ... it took us about 5 minutes to figure out that there was no "check-in" area for United Express, only three touch-screen terminals where a check-in desk ought to have been. We got our borarding passes and then tried to get anybody's attention for getting our luggage checked in ... after being totally brushed off by the other airlines' staffs, we found a phone related to the United Express terminals and waited maybe another 5 minutes for somebody to pick up on the other end. They told us "Oh, you need to take your bags over to Terminal #1 to check them in!" ... so, we get a cart, load up everything, head back outside and over to Terminal #1 to get the curbside check-in ... for which we had to wait about another 10 minutes. Again ... we had NO IDEA about the "45-minute rule" until the skycap punched in our tickets and said "well, I can't check your bags!". He then suggested we go INSIDE and check our bags there ... so we drag the bags (and, mind you, we have two kids in tow as well) into the terminal and get into another line. We get to the desk and, of course "Sorry, but due to security rules we can't check your bags"!.

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