Getting to Philly

Backdated to 9/11/11

Leaving home at 4 in the morning was difficult for many reasons. One.. I was leaving off to an unknown part of the world. Two – missing my family and dog Tazah. Three – I am not a morning person. That morning I was up and at it with about two and half hours of sleep – just barely finishing packing before I went to bed. Yes it took me a week to pack, weight, repack – unpack, weight and repack and repeat! I wouldn’t have gotten through it without my mom. Oh My God.. she was my rock this past week of packing as I went through waves of denial and action. So once I was at the airport the TSA security check was good the regular touch my junk special. My mom thought because one of the TSA officer’s was talking to me that he was asking me to take my headscarf off – no that wasn’t the case – he was offering a private room for the touch my junk special. I have to say after this day Oakland Airport TSA have their security protocol down while Boston and JFK leave much to be desired more on that joyously invasive search in the next post. Hey.. check out my luggage can you spot the carry on? If you guessed the middle bag your right! Yes I was able to bring my Eagle Creek Switch Back 25 as my carry on by zipping off the little backpack and rolling the other half on the flight. My bags weighted in at 51 and 49.9lbs that I checked. The weight limit the Peace Corp recommended was 80lbs and I say recommends because ultimately the weight limit is decided by the airlines you fly not the Peace Corps was a total of a 100lbs for my United, US Airways and Royal Air Moroc flights. Once I made it on the Oakland to Denver flight I was hopeful that I would make it to DIA and not miss my flight.

However I boarded the plane and the captain got on the overhead speaker and said,” Folks we have a mechanical malfunction – an oxygen mask had issues which has been fixed and we are awaiting paper work so that we can take off.” How long did that paperwork take to get to the plane? 30 minutes! How long was my layover before my Denver to Philadelphia, PA. I was hoping that suddenly my flight would become the Concorde and I would arrive earlier that I thought and be able to catch the plane. Unfortunately I missed the flight after running ALL the way down from Gate B50 something to the Philly flight to find the gate closed although the plane was still at the gate. So I hiked back to the United counter to get on a new flight. The United counter was very nice and at first offered me a flight from Denver to Philly that would get me in at 1am in the morning. The next flight wasn’t direct but would get me to Philly by 8:30pm going Denver to Boston to Philly. I said.. unless there is something better I will take it.

The ticket agent said great – now run to gate B -20. I ran.. and ran.. stopped huffed and puffed and power walked and then ran to the gate. I checked in and immediately boarded only to be told to gate check the rolly portion of my Switchback 25 got into my seat – a middle seat- and then the stewardess took mercy on our row and moved the aisle person back to another aisle seat so I could move over. The woman who had the window seat turned out to be a wonderful woman from Idaho. She is a devout Christian and was extremely interested in my assignment to Morocco with Peace Corps. We chatted up a storm! She even bought me lunch on the plane – a Blessing meal she called it because she felt God would let her know when someone was in need and when to help. Apparently I was a person in need according to God and her. 🙂 I finally made it to Boston and had to navigate – Logan Airport – which is officially on my list of worlds worst airport layouts. After hiking across the airport because I didn’t want to attempt to find the shuttle I got felt up again by airport security. It took enough out of me than I needed to reward myself with a iced tea from Starbucks on someone else’s dime – since they gave me the gift certificate.

So I wandered down to my gate for my Boston to Philadelphia flight cooling my temper with Starbucks and find that my flight is delayed. US Airways has no idea how long the delay would be given its due to weather – thunder and lightning – so much so the flight hasn’t taken off from Philly yet.

Option A- get on another flight and attempt to reroute through other airports. Option B- Wait the delay out and enjoy the relative comfort of Logan Airport.

I chose option…..B. I couldn’t deal with being on extra flights if I didn’t have to be. So I texted my mom and pulled out my Kindle to immerse myself in my latest trashy romance novel.

Finally almost two hours delayed the flight pulls up to the gate – Woo freaking hooo.

I get on the flight buckle in and enjoy the relatively short flight to Philly. I get to the airport and meet the least helpful customer service representatives in THE world at US Airways Baggage Claim counter.

I felt like I was dealing with an attuitde laden teen. Can you tell me where my luggage went? I took a United flight but was transfered to US Airways. Uh. No. Do you have a luggage check with a barcode? Yes. Here it is. Ok. Well I don’t see anything in the system. Ok… well can you check if its already come in? I saw some back on the side of the office. (Blank Stare) Well can I check? Yes? Great.. (wander over and check the bags none of mine are there and panic begins to set in) Go back into the office. So the bags aren’t there where could they be if they aren’t here at the US Airways counter? I don’t know says the customer service rep and I use that term in the loosest sense of the word.

So where is the United Baggage Claim office? I had to repeat myself three to four times before apparently my question registered. Uh its it the other baggage claim. So where is that and how do I get there? She gave direction and I left to walk through the down pour of rain and lightening to the United Baggage claim.

I made it through the doors and saw the transportation counter. I walked over and began to ask where the United Baggage Claim office is and broke down crying. I had reached my limit of travel, rude people, stress and facing the unknown.

The lady at the counter was so nice and kindly directed me to the office. The United Baggage claim office was nice enough to offer me tissues when I broke down crying again after finding my checked bags, facing the potential loss of my gate checked bag from the Denver to Boston flight and the US Airways Customer Service B#@!$%.

My gate checked bag could only be tracked by the small slip of paper that was

The guy went so far as to explain exactly what to say to the US Airways person and told me to ask for a manager instead of dealing with the person I was dealing with. He also told me to check the baggage crousel and see if my bag was there – just on the off chance it could be.

So I muscled my bags back to the US Airways office and told them they were going to watch my bags while I looked for my gate checked bag.
Whoohoo. My bag was there. Alhumdualilah.

Now to figure out transport to the hotel.

I knew it was the Lady Liberty shuttle and from finding all my bags it was simply a matter of getting them to the shuttle and then into the hotel.

Alhumdualillah. I was able to do so and everything else was a breeze. I met my roommate who will be know as M for the sake of current and future posts and met S – my friend from Facebook who is also the other Muslim in my group.

S was nice enough to even bring me dinner! 🙂

I made it and now just to get to Morocco!

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