by Jim Hinshaw
So just wondering how your day is going? I had a really frustrating day this week, and I am a normally positive guy. The glass is not half empty or half full, I am an engineer, it is the wrong size glass. Had a trip to Anaheim scheduled, in and out same day. My appointment was 27 miles from Lax, about 1 hour in California time. Got up early, got down to the airport 2 hours ahead, had time for LoLo’s chicken and waffles, really a great breakfast. Boarded the Southwest flight, was in the A boarding zone. It began to unravel when they called zone B. the pilot came on the PA announced they were halting the boarding process, a hold on our flight caused by a problem at Lax. Seems like the night before power went out at the Southwest terminal (one of 8!). Had 30-40 planes on the ground, could not get the jet bridges to work, a real opportunity. They ended up unloading those planes on the tarmac, used stairways, unloaded the luggage from the belly of the planes right onto the ground at the gate area. People were confused, ended up many went into the terminal next to Southwest, where they were told they could not do anything for them. Some decided to sleep in the terminal that night, fly out the next day, when power would be back on.
Well, it turns out the bags loaded into the belly of the plane are under different levels of security than those in the cabin, you could have weapons, knives, all sorts of things not allowed in carry on bags. Except now these were in the cabin, no longer checked bags. At 6 am someone realized that this was a possible security issue, decided to clear the entire Lax terminal 1. Yes, all of it. Thousands of people were moved outside, run thru security again. As you can imagine, this caused a real delay in processing. There were flights cancelled from the night before, added on the people who were flying out that morning, a mess.
Back to me sitting on my plane in Phoenix. We were originally supposed to land around 10:30 am, got pushed back to almost noon. Some planes that flew in had to sit on the ground over an hour, waiting on a gate, since the passengers were still in line trying to get thru security, causing the outbound flight to be late. So I landed at noon, it was a disaster. Took 45 min to go the 2 miles to the car rental location. Got on the road at almost 1 pm, got to my appointment at 2. A great appointment; had Connor Donnelly from Geary Pacific who was meeting me there, he took over until I arrived, had things under control. I told the dealer and Connor I only had 45 minutes, had to turn around and get back to Lax.
Got back on the road, had 1.5 hours before my flight boarded, felt good. Until I looked at the Apple Car Play map, showed a lot of red spots (where traffic has stopped) between me and Lax. This is where Suri is helpful. She told me to take three or four alternate routes, saved me 4 or five minutes each time. Technology is beautiful. Get back to Hertz rental car return, as I am pulling into the lot a tow truck is blocking my way into with a wrecked car trying to get into my lot. Amazing. Finally got it cleared. Ran to the shuttle bus, now I am 30 min before my flight boards. We get to the first terminal (Southwest), a slew of people from a foreign land all try to board at the same time. They all ask the driver for information about where to catch their flight out at the same time, got real confusing. So confusing he failed to mention this was where I was supposed to get off for my flight. About 3 stops later I finally asked him when he was going to stop for the Southwest flights. He said he already had, I asked how do I get back to that terminal. He showed me a short cut thru the parking garage. Made it to the terminal about 3 minutes before boarding. The Pre-Check line has about 200 people in it! Lucky for me I am also Clear, where there were only 4 in line. As I got to the front of my line, the TSA guy picked up a “closed” sign, he was moving over to the Pre-Checked line to help. He set it down right after I get thru the line. Exciting stuff.
My takeaways: first, plan ahead. I had looked at where I was going the night before, had a couple of routes planned out on Maps. Had made arrangements for Connor to meet me as well, that turned out to be a great idea. Was in communication with him even before I left Phoenix, to let him know I was delayed. He knew when I landed, had an idea of my ETA as I got closer. Second, assume something will go wrong. Did not expect an electrical outage, but things happen in life we have not planned on. Neither did I imagine that the airport shuttle would keep driving past my drop-off point. About that, not important whose fault it is when something happens that is unexpected, what is important is how are we going to make it right. When an installer falls thru a ceiling, let the customer know you will step up and handle it. Completely, right down to the repaint. I was frustrated when I realized I had missed my stop, not mad, just frustrated.
I am fully aware that there are 4 other airports around the LA area, had I known that the power had created a problem the night before, may have looked at another place to fly into. Tried to get connected up with another airport to fly home, all were booked up. Had to work with the cards I was dealt.
What is your plan when your lead installer falls off a ladder and breaks his leg, will be out for a month or two? When a flood hits your area, like we see in Nebraska this week? Or rain hits your area for three weeks straight, when normally you have beautiful weather, as we see in Colorado in May. To say we have unusual weather patterns this year is an understatement, it is unbelievable what we are seeing in climate in most of the country.
I do realize this article was not the usual, pretty much just my tale of woe about a trip to California. I just decided to share what happens from time to time to those of us who travel for a living. And to point out that we have to expect the unexpected. Have a client in Phoenix who has a fully stocked van sitting in their lot as a spare, so when the wreck happens, the driver just moves into another van, gets back to productive work in a manner of a couple of hours. Not days. There is my message, hope your day/week/month was not as frustrating.
We’ll talk later.