A Hurricane Story

My job requires me to, on occasion, travel to various locations to check out equipment or brief personnel on how to properly use said equipment.

This, of course, gives me the opportunity to fly to these locations and rack up some interesting, annoying, and sometimes downright strange airport stories.
The week before hurricane Irene hit, I was scheduled to fly to Beaufort, SC for work. My flight was setto leave at around 11am from Newark airport, I’d
catch a puddle jumper in Charlotte, NC, and arrive on Hilton Head Island, SC in around 2pm. From there, I would have to drive 45 minutes to a Holiday Inn located in Beaufort, SC. Thus began my adventure.

The day started when the shuttle arrived about 20 minutes late. He said that traffic was being redirected from the main highway and that we should still be able to make it to my flight in time. We left for the airport and, as soon as we reached the area where he was redirected, we came to a dead stop. After about 30 minutes of napping (yep, we were moving that slow), we decided to take a side-route to try and work around the traffic. Bad idea…

It turned out that everybody else had the same idea. We ended up being stuck in traffic for another hour, but not all hope was lost. I called up my work’s travel office, tell them of the situation, and get authorization to leave from Philly’s airport. I get the OK, and have the choice of booking either a noon flight to Charlotte, or getting a 1:50pm flight. I figured that I could get to the airport with about 45min to 1hr to spare before the noon flight took off, so I chose the earlier flight.

After about another hour of driving and almost getting turned into a pancake by an 18-wheeler who doesn’t look before changing lanes (Oh, and deaf too. He didn’t hear us honk and we drove past the ridges on the side of the road to not get hit) I made it to Philly airport in one piece. I walked up to the check-in counter to get my ticket:

“Yes, sir how may I help you?”

“I have noon a flight booked to Beaufort.”

“I’m sorry sir, but you can’t board at this time. You need to arrive at least 45 minutes prior to your flight if you have bags to be checked”

The time: 11:16 am…fuck you, Madam Punctual.

I call up the travel office again to tell them I’m going to be taking the 1:50pm instead.

“I’m sorry, but there is no 1:50pm flight listed here.”

“What do you mean there’s no 1:50? I called about an hour ago and it was there!”

“It could be that it was taken out because all our reserved seats were already taken. We have a set number of seats reserved for our employees, so you could ask at the check-in counter if they have any more available seats.”

Back at the counter:

“I’m sorry, but that flight has been completely booked. If you want, you can wait to see if a seat opens up or get the next flight out.”

“When is the next flight?”

“Tomorrow….oh wait. I see that there’s a flight that’s heading for Savannah, GA….oh, but it leaves here at 8:30pm and you won’t be getting in until close to midnight.”

For those of you who don’t know, Savannah is about 2 hours further from Beaufort than Hilton Head. If I landed at around midnight, I wasn’t getting to the hotel before 3am.

Shit.

I figured it would be better to book the Savannah flight before it was taken rather than try my luck and wait for a seat to open on the Hilton Head flight and be stuck in NJ for an extra day, so I asked the lady at the check-in counter to book the Savannah flight. Then, just before my information was put in the computer, a single moment of epic karma kicked in and I heard her say “Oh, a seat just opened up on the 1:50” The moment the last word hit my ears, I took the opening faster than Charlie Sheen doing a line of coke off a hooker’s ass and screamed “BOOK IT! BOOK IT NOW!” and got the seat. In that one moment, Arnold Schwarzenegger would have been proud.

The plane landed In Charlotte at 3:30pm. My next flight was at 4:15 and we were still at least 15 minutes from getting off the plane. I knew this was gonna be trouble. As soon as the doors opened, I rushed out and checked where had to go. I was on one side of the terminal…my next flight was on the other, and I had a little over 20 minutes to get there. After running to the gate and sweating profusely from all of the elderly in wheelchairs I had to toss out of my way (I used a similar motion as a 2-handed kettlebell snatch to gain leverage from underneath the seats), I ran up to the counter and check the flight time. My flight was delayed an hour….Winning? Not from my point of view nor from the point of view of those I man-handled out of my way. I got to Hilton Head, got my rental car, and drove to the Holiday Inn to get some rest.

Fast-forward to that Thursday. I originally booked my hotel reservation for 4 days, but since the hurricane was moving in, I checked out on the 3rd day and stayed the last night in a hotel that was right next to the airport. This normally wouldn’t be any trouble, but since I was using a company credit card for the payment, I don’t pay it off directly myself and don’t usually pay too much attention to the bill until the balance is close to (but not equal to) zero. About 3 months after my stay, I get a letter from the credit card company telling me that my card is in danger of being revoked because of late payments. After checking my bill, I noticed that the Holiday inn charged me for the night that I didn’t stay, screwing up my credit rating for the card, making me play phone tag with their hotel manager (Even after they immediately agreed they made a mistake, it took over a week to get everything straightened out) and have me call up the credit card company to let them know what was going on. Supposedly it’s fixed, but I’m still waiting for the next statement to make sure they re-credited me the extra night.

The moral of the story: There is no moral to the story. Holiday Inn can fenagle my shlamazel.