Thursday, June 01, 2006

Miami & The Bahamas: Airport Fun

I always want to plan to go to an airport as early as possible, in case something goes wrong on the way (in the simplest case, traffic or forget the wallet). In this trip I had Stavros who is also a similar attitude guy. So we decided to leave at 5am in order to catch the 8am flight, while we should need no more that 20 minutes to get to the airport from our homes. On the way though we had to pick up our 2 more friends on the trip, Dimitris and Ilias.

Our home locations are marked on this map. Stavros is at 1, and he should picck me up at 5am from 2, then pick up Dimitris at 5:15 from 3, pick up Ilias at 5:30 at 4, and then head for the airport (5) where we should be checking in around 6 WCS (Worst Case Scenario). Αμ δε!

In fact everything started of very well. Stavros was at my place at 4:55, we picked up Dimitris at 5:10 and we were at Ilias' place at 5:25. Then the problems started.

Rule #1: Wake up on the alarm!
Apparently Ilias oveslept a little bit. By the time we were there he had just woke up, so he needed and extra 15 minutes to prepare. He was ready around 5:45.

Rule #2: Get a small bag!
While the rest of us had brought small bags that did not have to be checked in (hence we didn't have to wait before and after the flights - huge advantage) Stavros for some reason thought that the huge bag he had would be alright. As soon as I saw it I knew it wouldn't fit though. So we decide to go back to Stavro's home and get the smaller bag he had to put his stuff inside instead. So from 4 instead of going to 5, we headed back to 1. From 1 it is actually faster to get to 5 using the 110 freeway because it has carpool lanes ( fast lanes for more than 1 persons per vehicle). So I was relieved.

Rule #3: Get all your stuff!
Around 5:55 and while we were on the 10 freeway west towards 1, Ilias realizes that he has forgotten his passport in his home! From all the items he could have forgotten, he forgot the most important one. So inevitably after we went to 1, we would have to return to 4 to get the passport! At this point we started sweating a bit... could we make it on time? What if something else went wrong?

At 6am we reached Stavros' place at 1. He needed 15 seconds to jump out of the car, rush inside his house, get the smaller bag and return to the car (we didn't care switching the clothes between the bags at the time). at 6:03 we were back at the 10 freeway east towards Ilias' house at 4.

At 6:20 Ilias went up to his apartment to get this items. Meanwhile downstairs the 3 of us left rushed to switch Stavros' clothes from from one bag to the the smaller one to save time. Fortunately everything fit nicely inside the small bag.

As soon as Ilias came ddone we rushed towards the airport. We had to leave the car to a long term parking facility and then get the shuttle to arrive at the terminals. That happened around 7am.

The biggest problem was yet to come though. As I was stepping off the shuttle/bus I look for my luggage and it was nowhere to be seen... I checked every place in the shuttle, everyone had the luggage except for me... 1 hour before departure...

I'm screwed.... where is my bag? Did I forget it home? No, I put it in the car... I also put it in the shuttle.... so where is it now.... Wait! The big fat guy with the hawaian shirt.... he got off the bus earlier than us.... the only guy that got off earlier... he must have picked my bag by accident... Which terminal was it.... I think terminal 3, Alaska Airlines.... I think that's right...

I ask the rest of the company to move ahead without me... it reminded me of scenes in movies about war, where a guy stays behind to take care of a last mission... "Go ahead without me... I'll be fine"...

We would need about 5 minutes to get around with the shuttle to the previous terminal in these 5 minutes all kinds of thoughts crossed my mind:

He has my bag... I will run as soon as I get tio the teminal inside and try to find him... maybe he is still at check in.... does he know that he has an extra bag? What if he has checked inj and he is past security already? I will never find him! Do I have anything important in that bag? Well, clothes, soaps, shoes... thank god the important items are on my... passport, I-20, camera... so it's not that bad, I'll just buy a few clothes when we get to Miami...

Immediately when the bus stopped, I jumped off it running to the terminal... and then , in the worst time imaginable, were everything was doomed and just 45 minutes before I was to fly cross-country, after all these incidents that went wrong in the past 2 hours, finally, there was a silver lining! The hawaian shirt guy realized his mistake and he was waiting for me at the entrance to the terminal. I saw him right away, got my bag and ran back to the shuttle and off to my own terminal...

Rule #4: God bless the internet
Thank god most airlines now in the US they have this online check in option. You log on the night before, submit your flight information and you can check in from home, while you print the boarding pass in the printer. So I had the boarding pass ready in my pocket, and no luggage to check, so I headed straight for the departure gate.

I finally stepped into the airplane 15 minutes before departure, and I exhaled a humongus amount of air as I sat into my seat.

Just 15 minutes before departure! I anyhting else had went wrong on that morning, I would have missed the flight. If there was traffic, I would have missed the flight. If there was an accident, I would have missed the flight. If any of us had forgotten anything else behind, I would have missed the flight.

Next time think twice before arranging when to leave home to catch a plane...