“We have a very minor mechanical issue,” are the words that started the shit show that was my travel to Greenville, South Carolina and the Duathlon National Championship race.
If you think you’re having a bad day, pour yourself a glass of wine and read this, and I guarantee you will feel better afterward, and will possibly be moved to send me a gift or at least say a small prayer of thanks that this insanity didn’t happen to you.
FLIGHT NUMBER ONE
I knew there was an issue when our plane was still parked at the gate 10 minutes after everyone was seated and ready to go. There were no announcements and the flight attendants looked almost bored. Myself and the boys were traveling alone from Hartford, CT to Washington, DC. We had a scant 50 minutes to make our connection to Greenville once we landed at Dulles, so I knew any time lost on the ground in CT would kill our connection.
The minor issue (something with the back-up brake hydrolytic system having a leak they could not identify) caused the delay of our flight and, with that, our adventure began.
We deplaned and I made a phone call to my dad who had booked the trip though his travel agent. The angry mob of displaced passengers had swarmed the agent desk and the United employees could not have been more worthless. Honestly United, you suck very, very badly.
After several back and forth phone calls and text messages, the travel agent was able to rebook us on an American Airlines flight to Charolette, NC where we would need to rent a car and drive the hour and half to Greenville, SC. It was by far our best option.
After we re-booked on a different carrier, I went to the United desk (which was now clear since it was about hour later) and asked about our baggage being transferred. After checking our baggage tickets and calling someone on her radio, the agent assured me our bags were removed from our original flight and brought to American Airlines flight.
After being at the airport for over five hours, we finally boarded our flight to Charolette. We thought the worst was over. How foolish.
ARRIVAL IN THE CAROLINAS
The flight was uneventful and I held my shit together nicely. We deplaned and headed to baggage to find we had no baggage. Because, of course.
I had to fill out forms with both United and American Airlines because no one knew where our bags were yet everyone assured us they would arrive “somewhere.” United figured they went to Greenville even though that asshole at United in Hartford told me they would be in Charolette.
Side note: The boys were ridiculously optimistic and so well behaved though this entire process. However, their most prized possessions of Lamby and Doggie and the blankets they have had since birth were in their suitcase. This was the first time they freaked. What I couldn’t tell them was that I had their brand new birthday gift iPhones in MY suitcase (which my husband told me to pack and check and all would be fine!) so I was shitting myself.
I sent this to my husband, who was in Las Vegas and was flying to Greenville the following night to meet us…
With nothing left to do but go rent our car and drive to our hotel in Greenville we headed out of the airport.
Our rental car, which was supposed to be about $350 was now costing over $700 because I wasn’t bringing it back to the same airport. Yeah, that makes sense. Ok. Whatever. I would have paid half a million dollars to get the hell out of there and back on track so I just handed over my credit card.
Finally, we were on the road to Greenville! And it was rush hour! And we were starving! My choices were Bojangles, Chick-Fil-A and the Waffle House. Welcome to the south y’all.
I did not choose wisely.
We made it out alive and finally arrived at our hotel in Greenville around 8pm. We started at the airport in Hartford at 9am so, after 11 hours of travel we were finally…hahaha – you thought I was going to say done, right? WRONG!
No luggage at the hotel and the kindly gentleman at the front desk told me lost baggage is usually delivered around midnight. That makes sense. So I asked where the nearest Target was and off we went to buy toiletries, clothes and Vodka. Oh how I wish they sold Vodka at Target.
The boys were deliriously happy with new Fortnite t-shirts and pajamas and I was snuggled in with episodes of Veep and a bottle of wine. I turned out the lights around 10:30pm dreaming of my luggage.
DAY ONE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
We woke up and, guess what? No luggage. I called United and, check this shit out, they told me it would be easier if I just went to the Greenville airport to get the luggage myself. Oh, wait, I’m sorry, do you know what would have been easier? YOU PUTTING OUR LUGGAGE ON THE CORRECT PLANE SINCE YOU HAD TWO HOURS TO MOVE IT 500 FEET FROM ONE GODDAMN PLANE TO ANOTHER!
I put the same clothes on that I wore the day before and took the boys to an amazing breakfast where I ordered biscuits and gravy as my side. Then I remembered there’s sausage in the gravy…and I ate it anyway…and it was delicious.
Luckily for us, the Greenville airport is about as big as the one in Hartford so it was quick and easy to park and get to the baggage area. After about 30 minutes of fumbling and calling back and forth, we walked 500 yards and found our suitcases sitting in the United baggage claim office. Is there no other industry on the planet as incompetent and ignorant as the airline industry? Asking for a friend.
We could now start doing the things I actually needed to do for my race. Step one: pick up my race packet.
After a gorgeous 30 minute drive we arrived at Flour Field, Greenville’s minor league baseball field, and picked up my race packet with zero issues. We couldn’t hardly believe it. Was our luck turning around? Oh, bless your heart. Not a chance.
Tune in next time for happy, sunny adventures in downtown Greenville and devastating, frustrations with my bike delivery. And, you won’t want to miss the agony and misery that was my national championship race! So much to look forward to…
What was the worst thing that has happened to you when traveling?
When is the last time you traveled for a race?
Best and worst place you have eaten while traveling?
Allie!!! This is so terrible! But so excellently written. Can’t wait for part 2.
That feels so awful to say.
I’m sorry you had to live part 1 AND part 2. Good Karma should be reigning down on you any second now because all this going wrong deserves a whole lot of things going right.
Don’t worry, I think there’s enough for a part 3 – LOL! And thank you for the “excellently written” part. You are awesome. And I’m so waiting for my karma shower!!!
I can’t even imagine. Sorry everything happened. I won’t lie though, sometimes I just love a good waffle house LOL.
Thanks Hollie. And, that was maybe the worst part – the waffles were not that good. How? How is that possible? *sigh*
NOOOOOOO!!!! While reading this I was having flashbacks of my own worst flying/traveling nightmare. The part about not having luggage and “it would be easier if you came to pick it up” was from the trip from hell when we flew back to Michigan for my FIL funeral. Except we were in the middle of nowhere and had zero options for buying clothing. We had to wear the clothes we wore the day before while traveling. The airline industry is a huge mess! I’m sorry that this was such a shit show but you did a fantastic job on the write up of part 1. 🙂
OMG I remember that!! And yes, I was super grateful there was a Target less than 10 min away. Someone needs to come up with a better system for air travel! Thanks Angela 🙂
Nooooo! It’s like airlines have a sense of the most important flights and choose to mess those up. I’m sorry this was such a mess for you! At least the luggage ended up being ok!
Do Targets not sell vodka in the South?!?
Are you telling me there are Targets in this country that DO sell Vodka??? I need to move ASAP! We don’t have liquor in the Target stores in the northeast either!!
I am glad you have a sense of humor and that I can’t smell your photo. LOLOLOLOL
I have this mental image of that United Customer Service rep picking up the phone and making a fake call: “yep, I’ve got this woman here with 2 kids and she’s about to lose her shit. So hold the luggage. Yep. That’s right. I love my job…”
I am so sorry this happened to you!!! And it’s why I try never to check my bags.
SUCH a fake call, right??? I swear I feel like going back to our airport and taking names. I remember the faces of everyone who lied to me on that airline!! And, if they are so damn miserable, get a different job!!! Obviously you suck at customer service and that is like the number one priority of your thankless job. Seesh!!!
And, I wouldn’t have checked my race bag for anything!! I had everything I needed for race day in my backpack so at least that was one less thing to worry about.
Oh no 🙁 My heart is breaking for you. That is NOT the right way to start off a race weekend. Although I have to admit that your test to your husband about the Waffle House literally made me LOL!
The airline industry is getting worse and worse. I have lucked out with some really great employees in the past but for the most part they always seem miserable!
It absolutely was NOT and, as you will see, affected my race horribly. But yes, I have to find the humor in it and I’m glad I could give you a laugh 🙂 That is always the goal!
Oh sweet Jesus what a shit show. I’m so sorry. Airlines are truly THE WORST and I don’t know how they get away with the crap they pull.
FWIW, getting on Twitter with your airline angst for all to see, and tagging the airline of course, has gotten me swift action in the past.
We had lost bags for days once before a cruise and 2 hours before sailing we went out and bought new replacement stuff. Of course our bags showed up at the pier with 20 minutes to spare so the airline (and travel insurance) would pay for NONE OF IT.
Hugs. All you can do is breathe and keep your sense of humor. Thank heavens the phones were not lost!
I did think about taking to Twitter but I just honestly wanted to save my energy! How sad is it that shaming on social media is the only way to get good service? Ugh.
And OMG about the cruise!!! The airlines are just the worst.
Thanks for the hugs 🙂
Oh Allie! What a nightmare of a travel situation. Not what you needed at all! I am sure your boys were freaking without there loveys! And to have to go back to the airport to get your luggage. What a pain in the a$$!
The whole thing was such a pain and I felt so sorry for my boys but they really handled so much of it in stride. Thanks Sandra!
I am normally laughing so hard I am crying reading your blogs, but this time its the opposite type of tears- especially because I know the story doesn’t end here!
PS- M&V look so happy with that dog, maybe its time to give it another go 🙂
Are you trying to make my life worse? You remember Star, right? No more dogs…unless they can fit in my pocket. LOL! And, yes, you know all too well things get much worse. I’ve been trying to find my perspective for the last three days. It’s not really working.
Allie!!!! OMG I’m so sorry that you had to deal with this. You definitely deserve an award. I’m a little worried about reading Part 2???
Worst travel fiasco for us was traveling to Italy when Jasper was 2.5 years old and I was pregnant with Everett. Of course they lost our luggage and had no idea where it was. While under most circumstances, I would be thrilled to buy a new Italian wardrobe, I did not want a new Italian maternity wardrobe. Plus, since J’s allergies were terrible at the time, I had all his safe food packed in our suitcase. And of course we were moving around so every day I would call Alitalia and yell at them in my mediocre Italian. Finally, we were reunited with our stuff the day before flying home and only because our amazing hosts in Florence called, hassled them, and drove to the airport to pick up our stuff for us. Saints.
Oh.my.God!!! That is by far so much worse than what I went though. Holy hell. I cannot believe you survived that!!
Oh no! I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that. Although, if it were me I’d be happy to have the kiddos with me. Stuff like that freaks me out and just makes me so sad. I never fly United and when I did have delays with Southwest, they always did their best to help me out and put me on another plane. I’m scared to read about your bike delivery. 🙁
It was GREAT to have my kids with me. They made the whole thing an “adventure!” And we normally never fly United. Now I remember why! Thank you 🙂
The suspense for part 2…. I’m glad that at least you didn’t choose to eat at Chick-fil-A…
I would NEVER eat at Chick-fil-A. I have a lesbian friend from the south who eats there all the time and I’m like “you know they hate you, right?” Her response — “their chicken is too good and everyone hates me!” I mean, really?
I literally started laughing out loud about the Waffle House story! Oh no, Allie – I am so sorry that happened to you guys. The boys were such good sports and I’m so glad the iphones were still in your luggage! I can’t even believe there is a part two and sending you all the love my friend. xoxox
PS: The worst traveling story for us was a trip to Aspen we took with all three kids. The trip was amazing and then we got to the airport to go home. Jerold never gets sick and he gets this look on his face… makes a bee line (barely) to the trash can and starts puking his guts out. Then Josh starts puking everywhere. Somehow we got on the plane. Then Elle (who I am holding) starts throwing up in my arms. Oh dear God, it was the worst thing we have ever experienced. Somehow Megan and I didn’t get it. I couldn’t believe we were on the plane and just wanted to get home. We still talk about the story and I just plead everyone not to talk about it at the dinner table. xo
Thank you so much friend and OH DEAR LORD about your travel story!!! That wins. Hands down. If there was that much vomiting I would not have survived. I’m so sorry! I cannot believe you and Megan didn’t get sick…or the rest of the plane for that matter. But, as you wrote – you still talk about it (away from food intake) and it’s an incredible family memory. I kept telling the boys they would NEVER forget this trip and their 10th birthday – LOL!!
Omg!!! I hear you though! My worst experience was traveling from Cabo to Chicago. I was 6 months pregnant and didn’t buy a seat for 1.5 year old Nathan because he’s so good on flights. That morning his diarrhea and vomiting started right when we were checking out…oh forgot to mention, Steve left 2 days earlier!!! Nathan pooped and threw up on just about everything that I had in his diaper bag so I was left to fill out credit card apps to get free blankets in the the Airport in Phoenix. This was at least manageable (somewhat) and then we went to check in for our flight from Phoenix to Chicago. After taking shuttle after shuttle to different areas of the airport, I was told that our flight did not exist!!! Wtf!? After finally getting rebooked on a Red Eye, Nate screamed bloody murder from the moment we took off until we landed…we all cried. Finally got to Chicago and our luggage did not…FML!!! l
Wow. That is a total nightmare!! Any bad travel while pregnant or with a little one is hands down worse than anything I experienced. I kept saying I would have cancelled the trip at Bradley if the boys had been any younger!!..and definitely if I were pregnant. Good Lord Barb!!
oh my! Traveling is just not the luxury it once was. Glad you finally got your bags and did not have a total meltdown. I had one waffle house experience in Pennsylvania somewhere that sounds a lot like yours. Hmm.
HAHAHA – waffle houses are just not what they used to be!
That sounds absolutely horrible. Glad your boys took it in stride, though. We’ve been pretty lucky most of the time. Once our direct flight from Baltimore to San Francisco took us from Baltimore to Dallas to LA to Oakland. Train from Oakland to SF, and no luggage until the next day. New underwear and pjs for everyone at the TJ Maxx near our hotel!
Can’t wait for the next installment, although I feel badly for saying that knowing what’s coming…
That trip sounds like a pretty horrible travel adventure! A train? Geez. I guess, with all the travel you do, it’s bound to happen.
um… I don’t know if I want to read the rest of the story!! this sounds awful!!
last time I really traveled for a race (like flying) was Warsaw. the travel was fine but I had a DNF in the race. whomp whomp.
3 horrible flight experiences:
1) Delta Airlines, just left connecting flight in Atlanta to go back to Amsterdam. There was a “technical issue” so we were already delayed. Some light was flashing on the dashboard that shouldn’t have been. They thought it was fixed, we took off and the GD thing started flashing again so we had to land. BUT… we had too much fuel to land, so we had to circle over Atlanta to burn off fuel. FOR FOUR HOURS. At first it was fine, but after a while knowing that we were still flying over Atlanta I just wanted to get OFF the plane. When we did land they offered us $10 food vouchers in the food court of the area that had just closed…
2) United Airlines, coming back from Chicago; worst service EVER. Could not check in online and somehow my husband and I got fully separated in the plane as far as seating went. Tried to get assistance but they don’t have a clue what this means. FINALLY at the gate, because I was crazy-hysterical-woman they fixed our seats (and a slight upgrade). I still complained the second I got home. (Positive part: they gave us both $200 vouchers to fly with them again)
3) Used our vouchers on United to get to Boston. Landed at JFK where 4 of the 32 border patrol lanes were actually manned. Made it by the skin of our teeth through customs only to find another huge queue to get through security to get our connecting flight. The one we had to run to (I may have a new mile PR on that run) that also had the worst turbulence of my life (like, almost puked). The way back was just as horrible. We had to white knuckle all the way to New York. (Positive part: We showed up at the airport a day late and United only charged us $75 per person to get the flight that day).
Once I flew to Faro with TAP airlines and my luggage had a holiday without me for 4 days on Tenerife. Good thing I went to my dad’s place and could borrow some of his weird tee-shirts.
Once I went by boat from Hoek van Holland to Harwich, UK and before we sailed I ate some chicken for dinner in the restaurant. Of course right after we took off the weather turned and the sea was very rough. Not only was I off from a bit of sea sickness, my dinner turned out to be a case of food poisoning so I puked my guts out for the duration of the trip. Because I was the “expert” (ie, I lived in Europe so surely I must know where to go in England even though I’d never been there), my mother and aunt still depended on me to tell them where to go, what to do, etc. Worst. Trip. Of. My. Life.
These make for great stories in the pub once some time has passed 🙂
Sorry about the Warsaw race! Traveling definitely takes a toll. I had a DNS in Cuba a few years ago too…
And OMG to those horrendous travel stories – yikes!! You could write a whole book. An idea maybe? LOL! Thank you for making me feel better!!
Holy crap. (Yes, here I am, four days late seeing this) Maybe you’ll agree with me on this, but I think the MOST stressful part of racing is getting there. I hate the stress of missing the alarm for wake-up, the frustrations of travel (whether it be on foot, car, or air) and the fact that Momma N is playing the final card on the race day weather. I wish I could hug you in person….
YES – agreed! I’m so done traveling for races!! And Momma N and I are friends again but, really? It was just way too stressful!! And I will definitely take the virtual hug!!! Thank you!
So I read this post after Part 2. Wow! Just wow! I cannot imagine what you must have been going through. I had no idea you pay more for a rental car if you don’t return it to the same place.
Love that you have a great sense of humor!
I didn’t either and I still don’t really understand why? But it was obviously just another thing after a very long day of ALL the things!!
Oh nooo!!! And to think I just commented about how cool the bike transport company must be since they just does bikes. Heading over to read part 2 of your trip from hell.
You know that saying this is going to make a great story when you look back on it one day? Well, it already has! 😉 I am SO sorry you had to go through all this but you have now made us all laugh and we are better for it. Looking forward to reading the rest! xo
Trust me, I kept thinking that the entire time!! It’s absolutely a trip we will never, ever, ever forget! Thanks friend 🙂