Hola mi amigos! Como está? Tonight’s the night I head to Cancun via Dallas and Ft. Lauderdale, FL. I’ve spent the day packing everything just so, as I’m flying Spirit Airlines and their rules are a bit different from most U.S. airlines. If you want to check a bag you must pay for it, just like the others. Unlike many other U.S. airlines, anything over forty pounds will cost you more. And carry-on? Yup, they charge for that too. Anything more than a small backpack will cost you. As this trip involves no snow boots, sweaters, or dress clothing, I’m taking a chance. I’ve strategically packed heavier items in my backpack. My biggest challenge continues to be shoes. I’ve pared it down to seven pairs (really, I can hear your laughing from here). Okay, here’s the shoe inventory: tennis shoes for working out, comfort, what have you; hiking boots as I’ve done at least one hike on each of these trips and I plan to explore dusty ruins; flat sandals; black Toms (they weigh nothing); khaki Toms as they’re cute and decorated with passport stamps. I won them on a Twitter travel chat and they’re perfect for a traveler; water sandals as, well, there will be an ocean (actually a sea and a gulf) and cenotes (a Mexican swimming hole) close by; finally my heeled sandals for when I want to feel girly. So there you go, seven pairs of shoes – all necessary.
At 10:00pm I do one final weigh-in of my luggage before leaving for the airport. I ran out to the store earlier today and bought a luggage scale which you hook onto your bag and lift and it tells you how much your luggage weighs. The scale is coming in at 39.68 pounds. I say a silent prayer that it’s accurate and even put it in my backpack for easy access just in case the airline scale weighs it differently and I need to do some serious begging (hint, if you’re ever flying out of Maui, their scales are notorious for coming in heavy).
I arrive at the hotel at 10:30pm. I know what you’re thinking, “Um, you were supposed to go to the airport, Nimrod.” Yes, but first I must park my car (and please don’t call me names. It’s not nice, even if you’re just thinking it). I’m, once again using Global Airport Parking. If you follow Drop Me Anywhere regularly, you’ll know that I’ve told you about them before. Airport hotels across the country sell their extra parking spaces through the site. It costs less than on site airport parking and you can use their free shuttle to bring you to the airport. Today, I’ve paid $57.38 for ten days of parking at the Phoenix Airport Holiday Inn and Suites.
So again, I arrive at the hotel and do a circle around the parking lot only to find no available spaces. I pull up to the porte cochere (a fancy name for the front driveway) and pop inside to speak with Erika at the front desk.
“Hi Erika,” I say politely. “I’ve paid for parking with you through Global Airport Parking but there are no spaces.”
“Oh,”she looks worried. “Let me walk around outside as some people have said there were no spaces but I was able to find empty ones.”
“Okay,” I reply with a bit of concern. “Because, you know, I’ve got a flight to catch.”
Erika returns and, after some creative thinking and good customer service skills, she tells me that an employee is moving his car so I can park there.Well done Erika! Oscar, the shuttle driver then grabs my bags and helps me into his van. It’s just me and him so we chat a bit during the seven-minute drive. Oscar tells me which airlines he likes to fly and that he’s never flown USAir. “What?” I say. “It’s tough to live in Phoenix and not fly them.” He then tells me that, as an airport hotel shuttle driver, he hears people’s airplane stories all the time. Suddenly it all makes sense.
We arrive at the terminal where I greet the airline staff with a huge smile asking how they are this evening (winning some points in case my luggage goes over the critical forty pounds). They answer politely and ask for my ID and boarding pass before asking me to place my bag on the scale (this must be how those people in Weight Watchers feel when stepping on the scale after a cruise). I close my eyes and place my bag on the scale. I let it go slowly because, as we all know, if you place something on a scale slowly, it weighs less. I open one eye to peek at the scale and, miracle of miracles, it weighs exactly forty pounds. I am a packing Ninja! I breathe a sigh of relief and happily skip on over to security.
There are benefits to flying the red-eye, one being absolutely no line for security. I breeze through and, after a bit of a wait at the gate, I board the plane. As this flight stops in Dallas before continuing on to Ft. Lauderdale where I’ll catch my flight to Cancun, I take a half of an Ambien as I’ve had some trouble sleeping and hope to catch some good sleep on this flight. Like any good traveler, I don’t take the Ambien until the wheels are up because you just never know. After a bit of trouble, I finally fall asleep. Within a few minutes they begin making announcements about our final approach into Dallas. I ignore them. Once we land they announce that, even if you are continuing on on this flight, you must gather your belongings and deplane (is that even a word?). What? I step out and wearily wander around DFW jacked up on Ambien (I’m pretty sure I fall asleep in the bathroom stall for a few minutes). Thirty minutes later we’re, once again boarding. I sleep well on the Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale flight. We land and I walk a few gates down to board my next flight. Boarding goes smoothly and I take out my nesting items (travel pillow, water bottle, magazine and iPad). I also grab my toothbrush and toothpaste and head to the restroom to freshen up. While I’m in there, an announcement is made, “Ladies and gentlemen, we apologize but we must ask everyone to gather their personal items and disembark (that’s a real word) the plane. Your new plane will be at the gate across the hall.” Really? I exit the restroom, gather my belongings and head off thinking, ‘my streak of mechanical problems continues (read about it on the last trip starting with On a Wing and a Prayer).’ When I head across the hall, I pass at least twelve people, lined up, sitting in wheelchairs. They seem to be waiting to board my old plane. When I look back at the monitor, I note that my old plane is now taking the wheelchair convention to Armenia, Colombia (I thought those were two different places). There’s no explanation and the flight crew seems as confused as we are. Um, did they board us on the wrong plane.
We finally board our new plane and, thirty minutes behind schedule, we take off.
Tomorrow – Child’s Play