Back in April, when I went to Texas for work, Hubby was a little sad to be left at home. He’d spent quite a bit of time in Texas before we were married, and has wanted to visit for years. But our travels have never taken us there. So imagine his delight when my employer offered to fly both of us to Texas for my company’s 15th anniversary celebration.
I didn’t post about the trip in advance because one never knows who is reading. And telling the world your house will be empty for five days is just not smart.
Anyhoo… from the start, we knew logistics would be a challenge. I was supposed to get to my office at 9:00 AM on Thursday. There were all sorts of activities planned, including a lunch catered by Rudy’s BBQ! A company meeting was to begin at 3:00, followed by a big party at 5:00, which was when family was to join the fun.
Austin, where my company is headquartered, has a small airport. There aren’t a lot of flights. The best ones — direct — leave around midday. But Hubby was scheduled to teach a class at his office from 3:00 – 5:00. So we had to book a 7:20 PM flight through Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) that would, hypothetically, get us to the Austin airport around 11:30 PM Central Time, and to our hotel around 1:00 AM. It was going to be a looonnnngggg day.
On Wednesday, I left the house with the dogs at about 12:30 for the drive to my mother-in-law’s house. Then I drove back to Virginia, stopping at Hubby’s office near the airport to wait for him. We got to Dulles in plenty of time, only to be told by the gate agent as we checked our bag that the flight was delayed until 8:30 due to bad weather in Texas. At least we had plenty of time to eat dinner.
Then we learned the flight was delayed to 9:30. Of course, 9:30 came and went. Finally, around 10:00, they told us it had been canceled until 9:00 AM Thursday. After being informed that there are no hotels close to the airport (Really? Around Dulles?!?), the airline offered passengers pillows and blankets for the night. We, wisely, opted to head home for the night then return to the airport the next morning.
Having checked on flights from DFW-AUS, I knew we’d never make it to my office on time. So, with Hubby driving, I called American Airlines on my mobile as soon as we left the house (6:00 AM). All agents were busy, so they had to call me back. After 40 minutes on the phone, the agent agreed that it would be impossible to get from DFW to AUS before 6:10 PM. So she changed our reservation so that DFW was our final outbound destination. I rented a car so we could drive to Austin from DFW, figuring we could just drive back to DFW on Sunday to avoid the drop-fee rental car companies charge when you don’t return your vehicle to the same place where you rented the vehicle.
Then next challenge would be getting our bag, which was checked through to AUS, off the plane when we reached DFW. Knowing the gate agents would be busy with other travelers, we stopped at the ticket counter to address the issue. That agent told us the person I’d spent 40 minutes on the phone with had changed our reservation, but hadn’t ticketed the flight. So we were essentially ticketless. AND, to make matters worse, if we wanted to return from DFW on Sunday, we would have to pay ticket-change fees of about $200 EACH.
“Really?” I asked in my nicest voice. “Is there no way to circumvent that? It was a weather delay, after all.” The agent said she would have to call in a supervisor.
“Please do,” I said.
Being an asshole in situations like that never gets you far. No matter how badly you WANT to get a bit indignant. (I forgot to mention that the agent I spoke with on the phone had already told me we wouldn’t be getting a refund for the unused DFW-AUS legs of the trip as those flights had “no value.”)
It took about 30-40 minutes at that counter to get the tickets all squared away. And to have the agent contact the gate supervisor to pull our bag and flag it to stop in DFW. (Of course, the agent told us first that it wasn’t possible because our bag was somewhere in the belly of the plane. Until I asked very nicely if we could get around that rule. And she said, again, she’d have to ask a supervisor to approve.)
Lesson learned… you HAVE TO PUSH if you want anything done. Really. The lady was nice as could be and more than happy to do what I asked. But I had to ask. I strongly suspect that they are trained to handle situations like that.
When we reached the gate, I had to spend another 20+ minutes with the gate agent and supervisor to make sure our bag was pulled and re-tagged. As I stood there, another passenger approached the gate agent with essentially the same issue. The agent told the passenger it couldn’t be done, and off the passenger went. (Had my bag already been re-tagged, I would’ve spoken up. But I didn’t want to risk having my luggage flown to AUS.)
We finally reached DFW around noon, retrieved our bag, and picked up our rental car for the three-plus-hour drive to Austin.
It sure is flat in those parts. It was all boring interstate, which was under construction practically the entire way, but the skies were interesting. And, since Hubby was driving, I got to enjoy the scenery.
It’s always fun seeing how things are done in different parts of the US.
If we’d had more time, I would’ve made Hubby stop for a sunflower field photo op.
Having checked the weather radar — what ever did we do before mobile phones? — I knew we might hit some storms. Lucky for us, we didn’t.
I must say, I did enjoy the cloud show. Really, how cool is that pic? Rain on the left, dark clouds above, and sunny skies ahead.
We did have to stop and buy a plug adapter since our rental didn’t have USB ports and both of our phones were dying. We grabbed a quick lunch at WHATABURGER (Southern fast-but-GOOD burger chain), too, then motored on.
I had to chuckle when we passed that Harley dealership in Temple, Texas. A shirt would have been fun. Except it would have said Harley Davidson. And while I have nothing against HD’s in general, no self-respecting motorcyclist who does NOT ride a Harley would wear Harley-screaming gear.
At that point, we were a little over an hour from my Austin office. We FINALLY arrived around 4:10. Crazy, right?
It was all worth it, though. The party was lots of fun. I got to show off my Hubby and meet some of the co-workers I’d never seen in person before. Some of them had their kids along, too.
There are only about 40 employees, so everyone knows each other as well as their significant others, kids, and even their pets. There were no pets at the party, though.
I guess it was around 9:00 PM when we finally reached our hotel.
It didn’t take either of us long at all to fall asleep, which was a good thing, because I had to be back at the office in the morning. More on that later…