Nov 25, 10, 3:13 pm |
Update, 2.01pm Thurs, SFO
Let me tell you about my morning.
So, I have no idea why, but as we taxied to the arrival gate, I still had a glimmer of hope that I could make the connection. After all, I could see "da plane" out of the window. It was right there. So close you could smell the Jet A.
I mistakenly told one of the upper deck FA's that I was doing a MR and was hopping on a flight straight back to HKG.
She was apoplectic. Couldn't fathom why a person would do such a thing.
"What about your wife? What about your family" she screeched at me.
"Ah yes, I have one of each. How are yours?" I tried to deflect the issue of the family as quickly as I could and make small talk.
She muttered something in Cantonese and stormed off. Just what I need in my life right now. Another vertically challenged, angry Asian woman.
So, plane stops, I bolt down the stairs. Do the sheep-dog dash over the bewildered passengers and sprint up into CBP.
"Not too bad, not too bad", I said to myself, as I scanned the entire area. Queues pretty light in the "Visitors" section. I run to a line with 6-7 people in it and appeal to the man with the gun to let me jump the queue.
I said to myself, now is not the time to kid or be a smart alec. The man with the gun comes over, looks at my boarding pass and says "you're toast, too bad, so sad, bye bye".
Or something like that.
I then wait an eternity. Why is it that every time you are in a hurry in customs at SFO, the line you are in is filled with non english speaking people?
People who have never travelled before. People who struggle getting dressed in the morning, let alone travel internationally.
The urge to scream starts to build. And I start using the F word. In Greek. A lot.
Anyway, I get to the next man with a gun, the one behind the window and he starts...
"Why are you coming to the United States?"
"Job interview..." I said sheepishly, figuring that my morning had already gone to custard, why make things worse and tell the truth. I didn't have the energy to try and explain what a MR was at this point in the game.
I had visions of latex gloves, KY jelly and me lying in a room somewhere, being asked by someone if I understood what was about to happen next.
"What sort of job interview?" the man said.
Now, I had only been thru SFO around 2-weeks ago, and the man with the gun says "but you were only here 2-weeks ago?"
"Why do you come to the United States so much?"
I was beginning to ask myself the same question.
I muddle through the next 4-5 questions and the man with the gun actually wishes me luck for the interview.
If I don't burn in hell for this entire saga, I'm probably going to need a new job. Definitely a new wife. Maybe the kids will start talking to me again after they graduate college and I buy them a car.
I bolt for the exit and turn left to where all the UA misconnects are attended to at the large UA service counter.
It's empty. I approach one of the nice ladies.
I then proceed to explain my predicament. She is also incredulous.
"But Mr Eightblack, everyone was looking for you. Where have you been?"
"Ah, stuck in Customs. My flight was delayed 4 hours out of HKG"
"And you're telling me you were booked on the 869 going back to HKG?"
She's starts foaming at the mouth and then starts furiously tapping on the keyboard. Clearly, she's not happy that she's working today. Must have pulled the short straw in the roster. I dare not bring up the subject of family or anything else that might send her into a fit of rage.
"Well, I need to call someone"
"Me too" I said to myself under my breath. An attorney probably.
She calls up someone in operations or something similar and then says
"Hey Betty, I have a Mr Eightblack here, you know, that guy who was supposed to be on the HKG flight. Well he just showed up at my counter. And you'll never guess where he just came from"
At this point, I was wondering why all these years had I not bitten the bullet and done whatever it would have taken to qualify for GS. Surely they don't laugh at you.
Clearly, the Service Agent I was dealing with and "Betty" could not care less that I was standing at the counter listening to their entire conversation. There was much bickering and laughter. About me.
Anyway, the angry lady finally re-books me onto the flight tomorrow. I politely ask her to check on my upgrade status. More tapping.
The SWU hasn't come back to your account yet. Let me call Mileage Plus.
She grabs the phone and starts yelling down the handset at the IVR
"Agent, Agent, Help, Help, Help" she barks.
"See, now you know what its like for real customers" I said to myself.
I finally confess to her that actually the SWU for this upgrade was not from my account - but from a friend who was sponsoring me.
She leans forward, unhappy that she has just spent the last 5-minutes yelling down the phone to a computer.
"Well", she said. "You'll have to have them take care of it. I cant confirm you in Business tomorrow. The system wont let me"
"Yes, it will" I said to myself. But I too was starting to lose the will to live. I couldn't be bothered arguing.
I then asked politely about a hotel room.
She peers into her terminal and says "Nope, says here the delay was ATC" You're outta luck. We owe you squat. Maybe the premium desk upstairs can help you, I need to attend to these other folks who have just arrived"
Now, I have dealt with UA long enough to know that it serves no purpose to start waving your arms and yelling DYKWIA. Especially when you need something from them.
I thanked the nice lady and remember to make a special mention of her in the mother of all emails I have mentally prepared to 1K Voice. And I hope that she doesn't get run over by a out of control BART carriage on the way home.
Head upstairs to the main check-in. Find another nice lady at the First Class/GS counter.
I then patiently explain to her what happened. She too is amazed at why anyone would do a MR.
It took some effort and persistence, but the CS agent printed out a voucher for the Hyatt and a $15 meal allowance. Probably out of pity. There were now 3 women standing around her - all fascinated by my PNR and looking at me as if I had a terminal disease.
They pointed, giggled, and then looked at one another. I gave up caring at this point.
So, with hotel and meal voucher in hand, I head outside to the hotel shuttles. I jump on the shuttle to the Hyatt. Except it was the one for the Westin.
Clearly, I am losing it. The bus driver thinks I am mentally challenged and takes me back to the airport.
"We'll it was nice to see the Westin again", I thought to myself.
Finally get to the Hyatt. Looks more like a minimum security federal penitentiary than a hotel. Some guy called Don checks me in, which takes an extraordinarily long time.
I head to the room. It's occupied as it's got the Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the doorknob. I try the key anyway, just to amuse myself. There's a mad panic inside the room.
I think to myself, you know what, lets leave things the way they are. I've done enough damage for the day.
So, here we are. The Mileage Run from hell. Thankfully, my buddy who sponsored my return upgrade has responded to my SOS emails.
More to come. Going to Hotel Bar to drown my sorrows...
United: 1K, AA: PE, Air France: Platinum, SAS: Gold, Starwood: Platinum, Marriott: Platinum, Hilton: Gold, Carlson: Gold, Best Western: Platinum