Saturday, December 27, 2008

Signs Are Mixed

Well, I'm embarked on a solo trip to a conference in San Francisco. Airport delays everywhere--I'm connecting in Dallas hours later than I should have been, due to snow up in the Texas panhandle, which caused delays at DFW, which caused every other corner of the world to get royally in a bunch. But this trip was not off to an auspicious start this morning even before I got to ATL. Hank came down with croup in the wee hours of the morning. Have you met croup? You know, whooping cough? He hadn't really ever settled down for the night, and he had a runny nose. Then he started that cough. I had only read about it--"a seal-like barking"--and that's exactly what it sounded like. Matt got him out of his bed about 4 am, crying and coughing, and when I heard him I knew exactly what it was. We carried him into the kids' bathroom and got the shower going to make some steam, and that made the coughing stop, just like Dr. Sears said it would. Then I put a humidifier by his bed, and we all three slept fitfully in that room for the rest of the night. I hated to leave him today, but he's in good hands--both Matt and my mother-in-law are at my house.

The downward trend continued when I got to the airport and found my flight was already delayed an hour and a half, making my connection and my evening plans in SF seem unlikely. But all of this bad news was only to set up my dramatic karmic reversal--the universe has given me something that I didn't think really existed. Something like Bigfoot or dark matter or an elephant graveyard: a free upgrade to first class. Yes, you read that correctly. I thought this was the stuff of legend. And I have no idea how I scored it. Here's what went down:

It has been my experience that when it becomes apparent that you'll miss your connecting flight, even if you haven't left your departure city yet, you should call the airline's reservations number and rebook. Don't wait until you are with a planeload of people in your connecting city who all want the single gate agent to fix their problems. The people on the phone will look at your itinerary and rebook you, even hours in advance. So. I called the American Airlines number and said, "Hey, I haven't left Atlanta yet, but I'm going to miss my connection, so can you put me on a later flight out of DFW?" The nice lady said, "Hmmm, no, there is no availability." I said, "Does that mean you don't have any seats?" And she said yes, that is what she meant. I was like, "Ever?" And she said, "Your best bet is to hope your connecting flight is delayed too." I thanked her and she thanked me and we hung up. What we were thanking each other for, I don't know.

Reader, I am not ashamed to admit that I was glum at this moment. I gave in to the glumps. But then I rallied and dialed again. I was thinking, "Maybe I can buy an upgrade to first class?" I had no idea what such a thing could cost, but I have a truly astronomical amount of credit. So I thought I would at least ask. When a different nice lady answered the phone, she said, "Hmmm, yes, there is no availability until tomorrow afternoon." I said, "Can I buy an upgrade to first class from Dallas to SF? I have a job interview to get to." This seemed a novel idea to her. She said, "Would you buy the upgrade using miles?" And I said, "No, I have to buy it using money." She said that she couldn't sell me an upgrade over the phone, but that there was first-class "availability" on the two later flights leaving Dallas, and if I "hot-footed" it to the ticket desk, they would help me. I asked her if she could put a hold on a seat long enough for me to get down there, and she said she would. Then we thanked each other.

Out at the ticket desk, I asked about buying an upgrade and said that I'd just spoken with the phone people. The agent punched some keys and looked at me with surprise. "They booked you," she said. "There it is. You got lucky--you got it for free. I just turned someone away from this flight 15 minutes ago." Then the lights went out except for a single spotlight that was shining on me, and a bunch of balloons fell down from the ceiling, and I was blubbering and trying not to smudge my mascara as the agent placed a tiara on my head. Or that's how it felt. What happened was she gave me new boarding passes and "sent a note" about my luggage. And I said, "Oh, great!" Then she apologized for the crappy seat I had for the first leg of my trip, because you know, I am first-class material.

Because you want to read even MORE about what happened to me at the airport, here is how I am continuing to thank the universe for my good fortune. Finally aboard a plane, I was settled into my economy seat for the flight from ATL to DFW, where I would assume my natural first-class state. I was by the window, and people were still boarding. A family with young children was in the aisle saying that they had been given all middle seats in different rows, meaning their baby would have to sit by herself. So I gave up my window seat and took one of their crappy middle seats. I've been where those people were, and I felt that I owed the capricious gods of airline seating this concession. I have no idea why today, I am the favored one.

So now my delightful first-class flight to SFO is delayed too, but that's okay, because it will give the flight crew longer to chill the champagne. Or harvest the Beluga roe, or whatever they do up there in first class. And I will try to be humble and not be one of those people who sit in first class and ostentatiously swirl their cocktails while the rest of us trudge by. Reader, I will try.

I hope you aren't having post-Christmas letdowns. I'll be on the left coast until Wednesday, so posting will perhaps be light unless I see or overhear something that I must share. Have a good weekend, y'all!

13 comments:

the gazelle said...

that is so awesome! I am full of jealousy. I have never been in first class. I hope it's everything you dreamed.

Jane said...

Good luck at your interview! If I knew you were going to be laying over here I would have hopped down to the airport and bought you dinner. Or seen if you could sneak me some sort of first class perks. You know, whichever.

Keely said...

Dude, you're totally first class material. It's just taken the universe a little while to realize it. Sometimes it doesn't get the memo.

Veronica said...

Ugh, sorry about the delays, but enjoy the first class! Looking forward to seeing you!

Amy said...

THAT is truly awesome. I actually gave a little gasp when I read it, because I soooo know the misery of airline delays and bureaucracy. Be sure to let us know what it was like on the other side!

And good luck on your interview! Hope Hank is better soon--poor little dude.

Coffee with Cathy said...

Hope your good karma extended to your job interview. You know you gotta give some to get some, so I'm thinking your foruitous twist of fate was meant to be. Don't question the airport gods!!! And hope all is well when you get back home.

clear screen said...

Welcome to the California. Glad you got to ride in style. Good luck at your interview. I'm sending you smarty-pants good vibes.

Michele said...

First class ROCKS! I flew from Miami to Seattle first class once. I remember it fondly.

Good luck with the job interview. Hope your karma lasts until you get home.

And, croup sucks.

Camp Papa said...

After the revolution, we'll all ride in first class all of the time.

Minnesota Matron said...

Hmmm. . . job interview? First class? You're out classing the Matron!

A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

I'm loving it. Keep us posted on your first class experience and your job interview!! I'm crossing my fingers you were going first-class on American and not crummy here-are-some-peanuts Delta.

susansday.com said...

Swear to Gawd I bet you get the job. You payed it forward by giving up your seat. Typing this during the countdown to 2009 - two minutes. Means your special : )

The Stiletto Mom said...

Is there anything better than the free upgrade? I think not!

If you had gotten stuck in Dallas, I totally would have come rescued you...or at least taken you out for a few drinks!

Happy New Year!