Friday, March 28, 2008

In Search of Summer

Well, I now remember what I dislike about wintertime in Minnesota. It's not really the cold snaps that get to me - there are only a few per winter and you can minimize outdoors time during them. No, it's the fact that winter lasts so freaking long. Spring keeps making tantalizing days-long appearances, and when the snowbanks are melted down to their last filthy icy nubs, it snows again! It's almost April, and there's a good chance we'll get one more snowfall before winter takes a break for all of six months.

The good news is that it's always summer somewhere. This week, Dawn and I are heading there. Dawn's school is on Spring Break, and I managed to phenagle twelve days off in a row. We flew to Portland last night; this morning we signed for the final sale of our house. It was supposed to be several weeks ago but was held up by some kinks in the buyer's financing. Thankfully they're resolved now. We were only planning on going on this trip if the house sale went through, so it's been very touch-and-go this week. We only got confirmation that everything was ready just before we got on the plane to Portland last night.

The original plan was to catch the 2:30pm flight to Tokyo today, connect to Singapore, and spend the week on some islands off Malaysia's east coast. We didn't get on the flight, for about the dumbest reason possible. The loads were pretty heavy but some late Horizon flights resulted in misconnects freeing up seats for nonrevs. The gate agent called us to the podium about 20 minutes before departure time to give us boarding passes, but then asked for our paper tickets. Now, RedCo has a paperless nonrev system for its own employees and those of its affiliates; as a NewCo employee I knew I didn't need a paper ticket. The gate agent suggested that maybe the policy was different for international flights, but the paperless system worked when I went to Germany in October. With minutes to go before departure, I pulled out my cell phone and called up RedCo's employee travel department. The woman who answered sounded puzzled by my predicament, said she would check into it, and put me on hold. Meanwhile, the gate agent said she would let us on this flight without a paper ticket, but she doubted the Tokyo agents would be as lenient and we could get stuck in Tokyo. Just then the employee travel department lady came back on the phone and said she might be able to fix it but it would take a bit. I told her the door was closing in about a minute; how long would it take? Several minutes, she replied. "OK, if I board now and stay on the line, do you think I'll be OK in Tokyo?" I asked her.

She said she wasn't positive she could fix it, so I stepped back as the gate agent left the podium and walked briskly down the jetway to close the aircraft door. Less than a minute later, the employee travel lady told me she fixed the problem and I was good all the way to Singapore. I sprinted back to the podium but it was too late; the aircraft door was closed for good. I went through all five stages of grieving several times over for the next few minutes before Dawn talked me down off the ledge and I settled on resigned acceptance. We collected our bags and walked over to C concourse to have lunch at Gustav's (incidently, the airport version of Gustav's, while my favorite PDX restaurant, does a disservice by not offering spƤtzle and serving only one German beer, Spaten). Over dinner, it dawned on me that we no longer own a house across the river to go home to, and we had to find a hotel for the night. Up until that rather obvious realization, I still thought of Portland as "home." As I called around to find a hotel with a decent airline crew rate, it no longer felt that way.

Well, a little 24 hour setback isn't ending my search for summer. It's colder in Portland than Minneapolis; it actually snowed here this morning. I'm ready to roast in a tropical sun blazing directly overhead and sweat in 90 degree air thick with humidity. The flight to Tokyo tomorrow is wide open. The connecting flight to Singapore is oversold, so we may end up going to Bangkok instead. If that's the case we'll go island-hopping down Thailand's Andaman Coast. Either way, my palid winter chicken limbs are gonna be clocking some quality sun time on the beach this week.


amulbunny said...

Pictures, we want pictures of white MN chicken legs against a tropical sunset.
Hope you made your flights and are sitting on a tropical beach soon with a drink in your hand and not worrying about NewCo.


Tim Perkins said...

Gee, even crew members aren't immune from airline stupidity! Enjoy your trip anyway.

Jeremy said...

Well Sam I am a little torqued you already spilled the beans on where you are going dangit! I was looking forward to another flawless win of the "Wehre is Sam?" series! haha.

Anyway, glad you are getting to warmer pastures for a bit. lay back on the sandy beach and take it all in for a bit. Slows life down when you get back!


P.S. I just left my cubicle job to finsh my CFI, II, and MEi full time and then on to instructing! yay!

Anonymous said...

why not got from tokyo directly to KUL and on to the islands? MH is usually open on TYO routes and has a partnership with redco.


Sam said...


So, MH is open on Tokyo routes? Tell that to the gate agent here in Kuala Lumpur...she's saying it's packed! Hoping we get on somehow.

Coming here we went through SIN because RedCo is free for us, and we wanted to see Singapore. Plus we love train rides.

Anonymous said...

that's a rare event.... I've been travelling up and down this route in my airliner times... :S

Sorry, hope you're getting "away" :)