Friday, January 17, 2014

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend is finally here

The trip didn't get off to a great start. Both Wil and I had last-minute work stuff to deal with, but we very happily bundled out of the house when Suz arrived at 11:30. En route to the airport, while waiting for the bridge in Georgetown (ish?), I got a text: our 1:30 flight had been delayed til 2:30. Well, okay then. Guess we weren't in a hurry.
We grabbed some lunch, some sodas, made a toast to Betsy, and then waited. Then another message: 3:30. Suddenly, it seemed like we might not make it to the expo before it closed at 7.
I headed off to the customer service desk to see what was going on, or if there were other flights we could get on... and was told no, but that the incoming plane was "in the air" so we would be okay.
I called the nice folks at RunDisney, who told me that if we couldn't make it to the expo, we would be able to pick up our bibs in the morning and then get our shirts later in the day. (I suspected this: we'd seen posts on Facebook about the weather delays over WDW Marathon Weekend; I also know that other large races have this policy for emergency situataions.) But still...
My chronology gets fuzzy here. At some point we were told the flight had been delayed until 4-something... then 6:30. I then hurried over to the customer service desk to see if there was something else we could do... another flight, something. As I stood there, I got another text from Alaska -- our flight had been CANCELLED.
I called Wil and told him to grab Suz and bring the bags and come to the service desk where I was waiting with a bunch of other travelers. Meanwhile, I called Alaska to talk to a reservations agent... though when I got through, the woman told me that our flight hadn't actually been canceled yet. Chaos.
I could see that other passengers were being helped, put on other flights, even if just to LAX. So when we got to the counter we figured we might be okay. But somehow, though other people were being helped, our agent told us that we wouldn't be able to get to Long Beach until the next day. We kept saying, "How about Orange County? How about Burbank? How about LAX?" but he just kept saying that he could put us on a flight via PDX tomorrow. I said that that just wasn't possible.
Other passengers were being booked on other flights, told they would be able to take a shuttle from LAX to Long Beach, offered vouchers, etc. Our agent was just ... not helping. We even turned to the agent at the next station and asked if she could help us get on a flight. She just said, "I'm sure he's helping you." (May I point out that, by this time, she had helped two sets of travelers and we were still standing there?)
Finally we were given three "standby" placements on a flight to LAX that was leaving in a few hours. Better than nothing, I suppose. But we agreed that we should go directly to the gate and see if anything could be done. That's when we spotted the other Alaska customer service counter, with NO LINE. (Sigh.) We spoke to the agent there, who was pretty helpful, but she said that she wouldn't be able to move us to a competitor's airline b/c Suz had got her ticket with miles. (Ummm, doesn't that mean that she's a great, loyal customer???)
However, she did say we should go over to a different nearby gate to see if they might put us on their standby list. So we scurried over there and spoke to a very nice man named Austin. He said, "Well, this plane is on a mechanical delay, so you might not want to try for this one..." But when we mentioned that we were going to Disneyland for a race, he said, "Oh, the Tinker Bell one? That's cool." He shifted us to his standby list, where we were pleased to note that we were only 5, 6, and 7 on the standby list... and that the first 4 people had all been issued seat numbers.
We stood around nervously... they were going to make an announcement about the plane at 3:35, and it was 3:20... but I saw the crew getting on board, so things were looking good that the flight would leave, at least... whether or not we were on it.
Boarding continued, while the three of us tried to think happy thoughts and send positive vibes to Austin. At one point, he called "passenger Roman to the podium" and we all looked awkwardly at each other. We must have looked absolutely distraught, because we looked at him and he motioned all of us over. Even then I thought, well, he's just telling us to try our luck on the next flight... but then he asked for our IDs... and gave us seat assignments. HUZZAH!!!
I got teary eyed (yeah, no surprise there), we all did little dances, and like that we hurried down the gangway. We even managed to get our rollybags into the overhead ... with a little shuffling.
Sure, we'll get to LAX too late to even dream about getting to the expo yet. And I'm not sure what to do about getting from LAX to Long Beach or even just our hotel. Or what to tell Hertz (to be honest, I *really* don't want to drive out of LAX myself... and we're still flying home via Long Beach....)
But at least we are going to get to Disneyland tonight, and be able to race tomorrow morning. And for now, that's enough.
P.S. We arrived at LAX, went to the customer "service" desk to get a voucher for a taxi or shuttle to get us to Long Beach ... and encountered a supervisor who was extremely rude and unhelpful. After we did a lot of insisting, she reluctantly issued us a voucher for a Super Shuttle... which, when we took to the Super Shuttle area, they refused to accept. They also told us that if we wanted to pay for a Super Shuttle, it would take at least two hours to get to Long Beach. Well, that wasn't an option, because we were so late arriving in California. So we piled into a taxi and paid $130 -- yep, ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY DOLLARS to get from LAX to Anaheim. So, yes, thanks Alaska. I plan on submitting the receipt and am expecting to be reimbursed for that.

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