A Day Late and A Dollar Short

I’m in Frankfurt, 24 hours later than I thought I would be. Man, do I hate traveling. I don’t mind the business. Once I get where I’m going I feel great. What I do mind is the process of traveling. It’s the waiting. It’s the hardest part (h/t Tom Petty).

Monday, I showed up at SeaTac airport in Seattle on time, riding something called the ‘Airporter’, a charter bus. It’s relatively cheap, and you can space out all you like on the ride down since you don’t have to drive. It’s no time saver though. I left my town at 8:20 AM and got to the airport at 11:30 AM. So, I make through check-in, survive the security line (nightmare), and get to the gate. No problem so far. At about the 30 minute mark before I’m set to take off, the nice lady at the counter gets on her microphone and says…

Ladies and Gentlemen, regarding United Flt. 938 to Chicago, we’re going to be delayed. In fact, it will be a severe delay.

When is a delay not severe? Anyway, it turned out that Chicago had all sorts of thunder storms and they weren’t letting any plane land or take-off until further notice. Our gate agent was predicting a departure time no earlier than 5 pm. Well, I had my Frankfurt flight at 9:40 PM CST, and I wasn’t gonna make it. I walked up to the counter and worked with the attendant for almost an hour only to hear the same bad news. After multiple tries at getting me to another airport somewhere in the world which could then load me off to Frankfurt, we discovered that there wasn’t anyway United was going to get me there. The only other option? Cancel the tickets. I did.

So, there I am, in SeaTac airport no longer holding a ticket to get to Frankfurt, Germany. I call my assistant to rework my appointments. She cancels my hotel so I don’t get docked a nights stay. I start wondering how I’m going to get back home (remember I took the airporter). Lucky for me I was able to get on the next bus home, and at 6:30 PM, I was back in my house, still ticket-less.

After feeding the kids, I get on the internet and start looking at flight options, knowing full well that I’m going to be looking at five figure costs. I find Air Canada with a few flights (I live only a few miles from the U.S. / Canadian border, so I opt for Vancouver International. I book a Tuesday departure. I’ve also got to find a new hotel, since the first one was cancelled. If you’ve ever gone to the Frankfurt Book Fair before, you know what the hotel industry does during the 4 days of the event. They jack their prices up 500%, since they can, and since a couple of hundred thousand people come here looking for rooms. Much to my surprise, I find a room – a non-smoking room to boot! Pure luck, that’s what that is. Yet, my luck doesn’t extend to the price. I’m being gouged to death. Oh well, what am I suppose to do? Sleep in the street?

I set out again on Tuesday, and now almost 18 hours later, I’m sitting here, jet-lagged, in my hotel room along the river Main in downtown Frankfurt.

Did I say I hated traveling?

Yeah, I did.