Ok. I know that I promised that I was done with this trip, but I just couldn't end this vacation portion of the blog without relaying our day yesterday.
We are now back in the Southern Home...exhausted....spent....and without our luggage. (As I write this, there is a call from American Airlines delivery. It is here!!) While every travel portion of our voyage went exceedingly well, yesterday was the exception to the rule. It seems as if the travel gods were saying "Nobody gets away with perfect, schmucks." So here goes.
We left Auckland a few minutes late. That is not a big deal. When you are flying for twelve or more hours at a stretch, what are a few minutes really. The flight was bumpy. Bumpy and me? Well we don't mix all that well, but I decided to just close my eyes and try and sleep through it. New Zealand Air has these fold down seats that convert into small beds. Each bed is contained in its own little cubicle so that you have the feeling that you have a small amount of privacy. The Husband was directly across from me and beside me was this very large man. I kept wondering how he was going to fit in the cubicle. Turns out, badly. He thrashed and kicked all night like a toddler experiencing night terrors. And who did he kick? Guess who. There goes any amount of sleep for the next 24 hours. The Husband never sleeps on these or any flights, so he too was awake the entire crossing of the Pacific. That said, if anybody ever has the opportunity to fly with Air New Zealand, they are the best airline that I have ever flown. Simply outstanding.
We arrived at LAX a few minutes late, but no biggie. We had almost 3 hours to catch our connection to Dallas, so we weren't worried. Until.......we got to immigration and got caught behind a full flight arriving from.....BEIJING!! 350 Chinese visitors. All carrying visas that had to be processed. All needing to be fingerprinted and photographed and......none of them spoke English. No worries, right? American Homeland Security is right there on the ball....with only a single translator for the group and only 3 windows open. It took close to an hour for them to finally open a few more windows and move the group through a bit faster. Us? 30 seconds to clear once we got to an officer, but now we had to really hurry. We retrieved our luggage and started to exit when......we got caught at customs behind the same Chinese flight. OMG! This time, officials moved those passengers to one side while the Air New Zealand guys went through.
We exited at Terminal 2. We had to get to Terminal 4. Now if any of you have ever travelled through LAX you will know that there is no easy way to accomplish this task. The shuttles take forever. (On our outgoing voyage we waited 40 minutes for one.) We decided to hoof it. After asking directions from a security guard who actually told us that walking was the quickest way, we shlepped our bags the 25 minute walk to Terminal 4. It was packed. On a Saturday morning. Packed. We made our way to the kiosks to check our bags through to Miami. Done. Onward back to security. We get upstairs and another security person herds us into a waiting pen. No joke. A penned off area where we cattle get to wait until security has cleared some. MOOOOOOO! The Husband, tired and never good with crowds or lines, tells her that we have Priority Security made possible by our NEXUS cards. No problem. Down the stairs, across the terminal, and back up. OY. We slip under the confined pen (because God forbid she should open it!) and make our way to the easiest security check, ever! If you haven't yet done the work for a NEXUS card, it is a must. The new thing for American domestic flights is that you are pre-cleared. No removal of shoes, jackets etc.... It is a must spend 50 bucks. We had a about a half hour to spare, so we went up to the AA lounge to change our shirts, wash, and pee. Then it was back downstairs to the gate for Dallas. That's when the real fun began.
At noon on Saturday, they arbitrarily decided to change the direction of the runaways at LAX, which meant a huge queue of planes waiting on the tarmac for gates. Our inbound plane from Dallas was there....just not at the gate, which meant that we were delayed for an hour and 20 minutes. The problem? We only had a window of an hour and a half in order to catch our connection for Miami. The Husband, realizing that we are f***ed for making the connection, goes to enquire as to changing our flights to the one two hours later. AA answer? Don't worry. You will have 15 minutes. RUN!! (I swear to God, she said Run!!) We get on the flight to Dallas. We are told that we will be arriving at Gate D 27 and the Miami flight will depart from D 34. If we have 15 minutes (A big if given the taxiing times in Dallas) we just might make it. We both are highly skeptical, but decide to leave it in God's hands. And....we still haven't slept and are so bloody tired that we don't even notice immediately that....are you ready for this....David Cassidy is sitting beside me. DAVID FRIGGIN CASSIDY. My twelve year old self just swooned. He asked me if I could help him find his seat. I pointed it out and he said...(This is verbatim, I swear) "Thank you for assuaging my confusion." To which I smiled and said "No Issues!" David Cassidy!! He promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the flight until a flight attendant woke him up to tell him how much she loved him when she was a kid. I'm sure he was delighted.
As the flight was landing, a flight attendant came over to inform us that our arrival gate has been changed from D 27 to A 34.... which of course was at the other end of the airport. Now we knew we were cooked. Our only hope was for a delay in the Miami flight. The flight attendant helped us to the front of the line, ensuring that we would be first off the plane just ahead of David Cassidy. We apologized to him, explaining that we had a very tight (tight?? Try impossible!!) connection. He was so nice and understanding, and told us to run. And then (OMG!!) he said that if we missed it, to come to the bar in the lounge and he would buy us a drink. A drink with David Cassidy!!! I would've had scotch just to say that I did. As we ran (and I do mean ran) off the flight, we heard a ground attendant say that they were holding the Miami flight...RUN!!! And run we did. Upstairs and across escalators and to a shuttle and off the shuttle and down more escalators and stairs.....until finally at the gate. They actually tossed us (seriously...threw them at The Husband) new boarding passes and we ran onto the plane. Seriously. Ran. Like OJ Simpson in those old Hertz commercials. I had an asthma attack on the plane, but we made it. And no drink with Keith Partridge. :(
And....no bags in Miami. We made the flight, but our luggage didn't. We made arrangements for delivery and took a cab. The perfect end to a perfect travel day, but we are home. And I met David Cassidy.