Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Bag Story...and More!

After the flights were booked on Friday I got a copy of my itinerary with the helpful note "call back to confirm" printed at the top. I pointed this out to the HR woman who assured me she would sort it out. So I headed to the airport clutching my bags, passport and "confirmation". Some confusion at the check-in desk as they could see my reservation but couldn't print my boarding pass. Maybe United have the ticket, we'll check for you. Why would they have it (I was flying American)? The reservation's been made on a system that links directly into them and sometimes they print the tickets for us. Oh, OK. Guy went off to check. No, they don't have it. We should call the agent and find out. They get the agent on the phone. The ticket's not been confirmed. He hands the phone to me to speak to the agent. We have a credit card on file but we don't have approval for the trip so we can't ticket you. That's ridiculous, it was meant to be sorted out and I need to get to London. Hold on and I'll speak with my supervisor. So I held on...and on...and on....while the check-in agent called the gate to tell them that I might be on the earlier flight but he couldn't confirm just yet...and I waited a bit more. Eventually the travel agent comes back on the line. We've spoken with someone (my boss's boss) who says it's OK so I suppose we can release the ticket. Give me a few minutes and we'll key it onto the system. After another long wait during which the checkin agent kept refreshing his screen every two minutes they did ticket me and I did get the earlier flight. But not before I'd had visions of returning home (Buffalo, not London) in despair. They were very nice at the airport and I'm so pleased there was noone else waiting cos I must have stood at that desk for an hour waiting. It turns out (I found out today) that HR did do everything they were meant to do and approval was emailed to the travel agent so who knows what happened? She's "demanded" an explanation but, when I spoke to her this morning, none had been forthcoming.

Anyway, rest of the outbound trip was pretty uneventful. My father came and collected me at Terminal 3 (the 3 stands for the three damn miles you have to walk from the gate to least I think it does). Got back to my parent's house, showered and had lunch with my grandmother who was SO pleased to see me.....thrust money in my hand and told me to buy myself something...tried to refuse it....your money doesn't work in my country...but she left it with my mother when she left so I took it! Then I went to sleep...for three hours, during which I nearly rolled out the's my sister's old bed...a single (not used to those).....luckily accident was averted when I woke up in a panic!

Went to a quiz supper with my parents, sister and brother-in-law (just back from training and more sleepy than me), my aunt and uncle and some of my sister's friends. We didn't win!

Spent Monday with a friend of mine...who looked pretty much the same as she did three years ago when I last saw her (she visited me in Manhattan). Went shopping for Twiglets....three stores visited before we found any....although I did manage to buy a load of chocolated (Flake!!!!) and Jaffa Cakes while we were on the hunt. Also took a look at my house....seems OK....the tenant has a lot of plants in the kitchen window, which is a good sign. And there was a cute MX5 parked in the driveway.....another good sign. Caught up on Eastenders. Ate dinner with my parents (all I think I did for two days was eat!) and slept some more.

That was about it for the flying visit. Only thing that's really changed was Watford (now with a load of new chain stores) and my mother's hair (shorter and lighter). Everyone looks pretty much the same and everything seems the same....even most of the shops. I expected more after nearly 4 years.

No problems on the flight fact it was only about a third it when that happens. The bit I was dreading most was probably the least painful part...Immigration...the person with the power to do pretty much whatever he feels like doing. Not sure if it was cos we were the only International arrival so the place was deserted or if he was generally in a good mood but we had a really nice chat about things....the Bank, Williamsville, snow....(fascinating I know but if they want to talk I let them.....anything to keep them happy!). Fingerprinted and photographed me and then stamped my passport for three years and let me in.....YAYYYYYYY!!!!!!

Now, I know my bag was with me at Customs cos I had to collect it. After that, it all went a bit peculiar. We got in early so the security guy said I could probably catch the earlier connection back to Buffalo. Went to the agent who put me on standby for the next I didn't lose my original seat. They tagged my bag for the first flight and then I had to run to the desk to see if I could get on. Yes, there's your ticket. Two seconds later...we need that back...we're weight restricted. Take a seat we'll let you know. The flight boarded and there were 8 of us waiting to see if we'd get on (including one poor guy that had already been bumped from the previous flight...when he'd been sitting on the plane...!). OK we have 4 more seats. No we don't. Oh, yes we do. Luckily there was a couple and only one of them was going to make that flight so I got on. It was one of those flights where the steward asked for volunteers from the front of the plane to move to the back (always instills a total lack of confidence in me when they do but nothing happened). He also asked the guy in front of me to volunteer to take over from him in case anything happened to him (the steward). This is their new policy...don't panic if I drop down dead, just go to the phone at the front of the plane, tell the Pilot and then do whatever he tells you to. Glad he didn't put that responsibility on me!!!!!

I don't know what went wrong on the bag front but when I got back to Buffalo it wasn't there. I did slightly better than the cute guy I'd been sitting next to (I ad a cute guy next to me on the way out as well...he gave me gum!)...his party (of four I think) had 8 bags that didn't turn up...! They told me mine would probably arrive on the next flight (my original one) and that they'd deliver it to me. Not a big deal....until I got home realising all my lovely chocolate was in it. Damn! Called about, it wasn't on that flight...we don't really know where it is. We'll call you tomorrow with an update. That was when I also remembered that my toothbrush was in that bag...along with my deodorant! Too late to go out to buy anything so I went to bed.

At 6.30 this morning I was in Wegmans (thank heavens for 24 hour supermarkets) buying toothbrush and deodorant and a couple of other things I needed! Made it to work 5 minutes late...which was OK cos HR was in 10 minutes late! Got home and there's a message that my bag arrived on a flight today...guess it was out partying last night in Chicago....more than I was! They're meant to be dropping it off tonight...anytime between 9pm and I'll only allow myself to get excited when it finally least I can brush my teeth while I wait.


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