GB to Mke, Chi, LA, Syd
Wednesday 23rd February 2011
Because this post is a week and a half late I’ll re-set the scene. It’s Wednesday afternoon and though I don’t recall the exact speed limit on the 43S from Green Bay to Milwaukee (I’m pretty sure it was 65Mph) what I do recall is setting my cruise control for just a few miles per hour higher than that and not looking back. The reason I didn’t look back was I was still trying to convince myself that I had time to get to the Packer Pro Shop at Lambeau Field. Fact is, after shopping with Tom, I knew I didn’t have any time whatsoever.
My schedule was tight. Leave Green Bay at noon to be in Milwaukee by, worst case, 230 for a 430 flight to Chicago. I was on a plane from Chicago to LA at 630, arriving 1030 and then on a plane from LA to Sydney at 1150pm arriving in Sydney at 925am Friday morning. I knew that getting to Milwaukee at 230 for a 430 flight was perhaps a little premature but with 30 odd hours of travel time ahead of me I didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Plus, with my mind set at a noon departure, it meant that if didn’t actually get off until 1230 I’d still have plenty of time to spare.
It all sounded so good in theory.....
As it turned out, I wasn’t on the road till almost 1 and although that wasn’t the end of the world I had now put myself in a position where nothing could go wrong. Haha! You know where this post is going already don’t you!
My trip down the freeway was a good one. (As you can see by the ‘freaking out’ look on my face in the first picture!) Despite the weather being what it was, Wisconsin roads are looked after like no other state I have been to. So at almost 0F, or -18C, with 6 feet of snow piled either side of the road, you can still comfortably cruise down the freeway as safe as it were summer time.
I made it to Milwaukee just before 3 which I was pleased about. An hour and a half was just enough time to check-in, drop my bag off and do what I had to do. It was a little on the shorter side than I had hoped but I was happy enough to be there so that was good.
Already in a rush I pulled the car into the Thrifty Car Rental return bay and popped the trunk (we call it the ‘boot’ by the way) so I could see what sort of a situation I had left myself. That ‘situation’ being shopping bags with hats, shirts, toys and of course a cheesehead to somehow fit into a suitcase that was already bursting at the seams. It seemed though that wasn’t my only problem.
Because of the rush I was in, and because there wasn’t a gas station on the 43S close enough to the airport that my tank would remain full by the time I arrived, I decided to return the car with the tank ¾ empty. I knew that I was able to do this ‘cause I asked before I left and of course I was told it was no problem. Plus we do it at home with rental cars so to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t have any intention of finding gas unless I tripped over a station within a mile of the airport.
What the young girl who worked for Thrifty forgot to tell me however was that the cost of gas, if they had to fill the tank would be $7.99 per gallon. Yup, 8 bucks! That versus the $3.15 they were charging outside of the airport. I gotta tell you, this got me a little hot under the collar. Here I was, on a tight timeframe, a tight budget and with a suitcase that wasn’t big enough to fit the three shopping bags worth of stuff that weren’t yet in it and I had to make an almost $100 decision. Leave the car and pay the excess or find a station and hope that I could fill it up and return quickly.
I got in the car, in a little huff I might add and found myself a gas station as quickly I could. I was annoyed that their price was so ridiculousy high and I couldn’t justify $100 for absouluetly nothing in return. There were so many things I could have bought for $100 that I chose not to so that I could, quite simply, save the money. Out of principle, I wasn’t going to give $100 to a global car rental company that didn’t need to do this to their customers. Even at the risk of missing my flight. I just didn’t think it was right. (Out of interest I knew they’d charge more than street value for the gas and I’m cool with that. I appreciate it costs them to put it in. 2 and half times the price though was disgusting.)
Anyway, I managed to get the gas, get the car back, squeeze half of the shopping into my suitcase and the other half into my carry-on luggage and get to the check-in counter by 20 past 3. I was worried that I was too late, especially ‘cause I needed to check a bag in but I gave the assistant my best possible Aussie smile and my friendliest Aussie banter. It must have been good ‘cause she was a Bears fan (she told me ‘cause I had my Packers gear on) yet she still checked me in and helped me with dropping my off bag as quickly as possible.
I grabbed myself a quick sandwich and coffee for the plane, checked-in at my final Packers Super Bowl winning kiosk to check out the merchandise one last time and I was off to the departure gate. It hadn’t yet hit 4 so I was content that everything was back on schedule. Until of course I got to the security check-point and there was, at a guess, 80 to 100 people queued up to get through.
In my second panic attack, I spoke to an airport assistant that didn’t fall for my Aussie accent this time and he wouldn’t allow me through any quicker than joining the back of the line. He did suggest however that I could ask each person in front of me, one-by-one, if they’d let me ahead of them. Thankfully I’m not the shy type so I gave this a crack and got through ¾ of the people in front of me. At that point, another fellow on the same flight as me had just looked up our flight and told me not to worry. We had been delayed 15 minutes and I’ve got to tell you I was relieved! It even gave me enough time to be pulled aside by security for an individual bag check and drug swab. Why that always happens to me I don’t know…
At this point it had been a stressful trip home already. And I hadn’t boarded a single plane yet!
The flight to Chicago was a quick one. Quite literally it felt like we went up and came straight back down again. Then after a short break in Bear town I boarded my flight to LA. Everything went well with the boarding, the door on the plane not locking prior to departure though proved to be a problem. After 40 minutes or so of sitting on the tarmac we were told that despite having the engineers on the plane, things weren’t looking good. Once an hour had passed it was confirmed, the door couldn’t be fixed, it had to be returned to the hangar and we were being returned to the terminal where our fate, and flights, would be figured out as quickly as possible.
I was convinced that this meant I would miss my connecting flight from LA to Sydney and it didn’t take long for me have that confirmed. After the afternoon I’d had it wasn’t what I was hoping to hear; plus I was stinging to see Kel and the boys again. I had fallen victim to the ‘once you’re on your way, all you want to do is get there syndrome! That being said, I’d rather miss my flight on the recommendation of a sensible Captain than push on and have a problem somewhere at 40,000 feet. Some of the other people on the flight though… well let’s just say they weren’t as open-minded! I’m not sure why some people think that yelling at others is going to fix anything. Particularly when the person they’re yelling at is on the plane to serve us drinks, not the CEO of Boeing or American Airlines themselves.
In this case there were half a dozen or so people getting really angry. And alot of others telling everybody just how important ‘their’ flights were compared to everybody else’s. They were funny to listen to ‘cause they were so self-centred and they had no idea just how petty they made themselves sound. “But I have a very important meeting in the morning” one passenger kept spruiking. Heck, if broken plane isn’t reason enough to miss your meeting what is?
Anyway, despite my fears of having to sleep in the terminal at Chicago (dressed in Packers gear I might add), American did manage to pull out another plane and get us to LA. It was too late for my flight to Sydney though they did re-book me on an immediate flight to Brisbane (800 miles north of Sydney) with a connecting flight to Sydney just an hour later.
Despite the hick-up I managed to get into Sydney just 2 hours later than scheduled. And even though I’m certain there won’t be anybody from Qantas or American reading this I want to thank them anyway. I was barely inconvenienced by what had happened and all of my flights, connections and changes were managed for me. It really was a simple as could be. (And here I was thinking they’d make me wait in the terminal till the the next LA-Syd flight, 24 hours later.)
All that was left for me to do now, after a magnificent week of being a Packer fan, was find the most beautiful girl in the world at the terminal somewhere. And even though there was a little confusion with the gate number (and terminal number) I am happy to say that once we did see each other it was hugs and kisses all round.
Like school kids, we held hands all the way to the car and I smiled a smile as wide a mile (Ha!) And though I know I shouldn’t say it, for the first time in a week the Packers couldn’t have been further from my mind. I was re-united with my favourite girl, my boys were 3 hours from being off school and we had all weekend to enjoy each others company. (And they had all weekend to hear about Dad’s adventure.)
Insert MASSIVE smiley face here!
By the way, another ‘lack-of-picture’ apology. Sometimes I don’t realise how few pictures I take until I sit down to go through them all. And sometimes there are so many I can’t fit them all in! I’m sure you understand.
*** UPDATE, 918pm - I have just checked this out now that it’s uploaded. Wow, it’s long… sorry about that! ***
Thu 24th Feb 11
Glad to hear you weren’t stranded anywhere for too long.
What’s kind of funny, is that was not all that unique a situation. It seems any trips that are not a direct flight seem to invariably have some kind of problem.
I used to fly alot with work and what you point out is so true - people get so angry and torment the people who are not in charge and have no control over these things. I witnessed several idiots berating a ticket representative about delays when a storm of record size and tornados went through the midwest. What did they think - she has a direct line to God? I pointed out to them that didn’t they think that if she had ANY chance to get your sorry butt out of her face she would have already done so?
It almost seems as if they’d rather get back on a plane that has known defects, then suck it up like everyuone else. And yes their situation is much more dire than everyone else’s.
Anyway, glad you are home safe.
Fri 25th Feb 11
Geesh, I expected to read about a nice relaxing trip home. I don’t know if I could have handled that stress.
You mention using your Aussie charm and accent when in a pinch....I’m of Norwegian decent in Northern Wisconsin. Many times while traveling around the country, I’ve spoken in this exagerated Scandanavian-American accent. If you have seen the movie Fargo, you will konw what I mean. It works every time.