SFO, BART, Caltrain, SJC, back to SFO, PHL

Wow.  What a travel day.  I’m back home in the dirty Jerz.  Being in San Fran was a great time.  Awesome weekend, and the race was super.  I’ll post more on the race when I get the waterproof camera pictures developed.  I found a cool video of the entire race start on YouTube as well.

Anyway, on Monday morning, I woke up to the sound of Mike puking in the bathroom.  I felt fine…am actually glad that I didn’t have anything substantial in my stomach.  I got up to say goodbye and move the car so that he could spend a hellish day at work.  At that point, I was up.  Awake.  I wasn’t going back to sleep eventhough I was tired.

Alanna got her day going soon after, and we kabitzed.  I spent time on the computer dawdling as usual.  I eventually did get up to go to get breakfast at Katz’s bagel shop.  It seems like a lot of places in the Haight do not accept credit cards, so I had to walk several blocks to a Wells Fargo ATM.  There are some shady ATMs, and I had used one the day before, which I didn’t want to do again.  The walk to the bank went uphill, and going there and the way back was murder.  My knees felt horrible.  OUCH!

Fast forward, time goes by due to the bank trip, back to the bagel shop, eating some awesome food, more dawdling, more figuring out what sights I could possibly see and how to get there in the little time I had left in SFO.  I figured I’d try to see something before my intended departure to BART around 1430-1500.  But, I didn’t make it off the couch.  Too much time went by and I gave up on going anywhere.  I eventually went downstairs to start sorting out my backpack with the gear from race day.  At that point, it was beyond 2pm, and I was beginning to threaten my travel time.

I start moving quicker, as the afternoon continues to slip by.  Sort.  Pack.  Take stock.  Decide.  Order.  Ask.  Pack.  Re-sort.  Pack some more.   Shower.  Dress.  Hurry.  Stop.  Give up.  Goodbye.  Walk.  Scurry.  Money.  Ding!  Finally, on the BART @ 16th & Mission and heading to Millbrae, but it was awfully late.  I get to Millbrae, and I check the schedule.

My flight out of San Jose was an 1807 departure.  The trip on Caltrain from Millbrae to Santa Clara and then either a taxi or the free #10 bus is ~1hr.  It was now ~1615, and I would have been just barely able to make my flight going to LAX airport IF there was a train right there.  And there was!  But, it was on the opposite side of the platform, and I had to go down to the end, up, over, and down again.  I also still had to purchase a ticket.  So, I was screwed.  The next train to Santa Clara wasn’t until 1655, which meant that I wouldn’t get to the airport until 1755.  And, as I came to find out, the train that was at the station the time I arrived wouldn’t have helped me anyway, because it was an express train that didn’t stop at Santa Clara.  I was about 25mins late for the train that would have gotten me to the airport on time.

I eventually arrived at SJC United counter at precisely the time my flight was pulling the wheels up into the under carriage of the plane.  The agent I spoke with was only as helpful as giving me my confirmation number, which I already had, and dialing the reservations line for me.  Now, at just the same time that I arrived at the counter, another girl arrived just behind me.  We were on the same flight, except she thought the flight was leaving about 50mins later.  She was extremely upset when they eventually got her to understand that she missed the flight.  While I am on the phone, this girl is speaking with another agent at the counter.

I am on the phone, and the reservation agent tells me that it’s going to cost me a $150 rebooking fee and a fare repricing.  She starts going through the available flights for the next day.  For the same flight that I was on for the next day, with the rebook fee and the fare adjustment, it was going to cost me $1,000!!!!  FUCK. THAT. BULLSHIT.  The cheapest was ~$450 through Denver the next day.  There were no more flights out of San Jose that evening.  Nothing.  Or, so I was told.  There was nothing the reservation agent on the phone was doing for me.  No creativeness.  No real help.  Sorry that I missed the flight, yes, but not understanding from a one-to-one level.  I was pretty much flabbergasted that it was going to cost me so much.

I asked the agent to check for following days.  While there was a silence in the phone conversation as the agent checked, I asked the girl at the counter if the agent was rebooking her.  She nodded accordingly.  Now, that kind of pissed me off.  I mean, what the fuck?!  How is it that one agent decides to help an individual out with rebooking their flight and another just gives me what I have and a phone call?  I didn’t get upset at the guy I dealt with at the time, but looking back on it…it’s like, “Fuck you, you prick!”

The girl walks off, and I drew the attention of the agent who had been helping her just a minute ago.  I explained that I was in the same situation, and I was on the same flight.  I handed her my confirmation number, and she started pulling up my itinerary.  Meanwhile, the agent on the phone is asking me if I want to book any of the flights.  I say that I’ll call back and hang up the phone as I’m now hopeful that the agent at the counter will give me a better deal at that point.  I was probably 30secs away from spending several hundred dollars for a flight the next day + a hotel stay if  it hadn’t been for Sun, a little asian lady working for United at the counter.  She said to me, “Ok.  I’ll offer you the same that I proposed to her.  I can put you on a flight tonight out of SFO for $75 rebook fee, no fare reprice and going through Dulles continuing on to Philadelphia.  Is that ok?”

UH?  HELL YES!  $75 + $20 for the airport shuttle from SJC to SFO versus $450-$1,000?!?!?!  No, wait, let me think about it for a second…!

She charges my card, checks me in, prints my boarding passes, and then tells me that she put me in an exit row seat!  This lady is like an angel to me at this point!  She’s saving me a ton of cash, putting me on a flight that goes east instead of south to LA, and gives me leg room and thus a relaxing flight home.  Sun, as they say, you are da bomb.

I’m feeling great.  I tear into a sandwich and some cookies waiting for the shuttle.  The other girl is totally relieved as well.  The shuttle caused a little anxiety since it showed up 15mins late, but I’m checking in my bags at the counter in SFO around 2000.  Through security, potty stop, walk around, beer/burger/fries at the good ol’ Gordon Biersch brewpub restaurant (Vegas memories there Zac…meatloaf?!) and then on to the gate.

The gate is packed with people.  Now, SFO to Dulles non-stop is a pretty major route, and it didn’t dawn on me until I sat down for a while and listened to everyone around me complaining.  The line up to the counter is a mile long, because that’s everybody who is on standby hoping to get a seat!!!  Duh!  They’ve WAAAAAY oversold the flight, and so we all know what that means.  And, I’m sitting there thinking to myself, “No!  Wow.  This could be just my luck.  I’ll take a free night in a decent hotel at this point and get a free flight!”

Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Then…

“Ladies and gentlemen at Gate 87 for United flight 1087 non-stop to Washington, DC, Dulles airport, if there are any of you travelling tonight who are flexible with your schedule, we are offering a free round trip ticket on United valid for 1 year and we’ll fly you out tomorrow while accomodating you in the hotel adjacent to the airport. Please see me at the ticket counter, if you would be willing to volunteer.”

I made a couple people around me happy, because they knew I was going to give up my seat as I was on my way up to the counter before the agent even put the phone down.  I get up there, and I tell the guy that I’ll bump to tomorrow.  I handed him my boarding pass, and tell him that I was heading to Philadelphia.

When he heard that, without picking up his head and just shifting his eyes up to me, he says, “Philadelphia is your final destination?  I can get you on a flight right now and give you the free flight voucher!!!”  Jigga who, jigga what?!

“What?  Leaving tonight?”

“Direct to Philly at 10:35.  They’re going to start boarding in like 10 minutes.”

“Yeah.  Ok.  Awesome!”

And, that was it.  I got the free flight voucher, and I was on my way to yet another gate.  No exit row and very back of the plane, so I couldn’t tilt my seat back, but oh well.

So, just to sum up.  I went from missing my flight and having to shell out a couple $hundo$ to a direct flight home and a round trip flight voucher for a total of $95.  I think the $95 for the round trip ticket alone is MORE THAN value for the money anyhow.  I have to give credit to United on that day.  Their agents (most) were the dog’s balls.  I think that perhaps luck was on my side from the very beginning eventhough it didn’t appear that way.

To close it out, I arrived in Philly and waited for the flight from Dulles to arrive that was carrying my suitcase.  They couldn’t have pulled it off the airplane in SFO at that point, but it arrived with the plane in Philadelphia.  No issues.  With my luggage in tow and feeling dog tired, I headed out to grab a taxi.

The taxi guy must have thought that I was from out of town or something.  Freakin bastard tried to rip me off.  He wanted to negotiate a flat fare for $45, but I told him to run the meter instead.  Then he wanted to take 95 all the way to the bridge, but there was traffic.  He pulled to a stop where there’s the exit to go to 76 West and go over the Penrose Ave. bridge.  He starts getting all upset that I want him to go that way and keep the meter running.  He’s like, “But my money, blah blah blah, it’s the same, blah blah blah…”  No.  Obviously, it’s not the same if you’re bringing it up.  Shut the hell up and drive.  I’ve taken numerous cabs home from the airport before, and all of them take the quickest way for the least amount of money.  This guy was a turd burglar.  A real scammer.  I was like, “Dude.  I told you that I wanted to run the meter and go this way.  I don’t know what you’re talking about it being the same.  I live here.  I’ve taken cabs before that go this way.”  Finally, frustrated and probably realizing that he couldn’t win, he went over Penrose Ave.  He kept going on and on about something and how he was doing everything for me.  Doing what?  Shut up and drive.  It was a typical guilt trip attempt that I’ve heard before from other Indian cabbies.

Anyway, he was a terrible driver.  Hard on the brake and jittery.  He didn’t crash, and I got home.  $34, pulled my luggage out of the trunk, humid cloudy weather and I was home.

I can’t wait to get back to Cali.

~ by jerseyquaker on June 17, 2009.

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