Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday at the MSP Airport

I'm sitting at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport waiting for my 3:20 pm re-booked flight to Chicago. I am surrounded by a sea of humanity. It is so crowded that people are actually sitting next to each other instead of the requisite one-seat spacing.

I didn't know that Summer Saturdays and Sundays at the airport are one very long line after another. I got to the airport the recommended 75 minutes before my flight and found the line to check my bag was very long and moving slow. In the 45 minutes that it took to snake through the rope lines, I had a great conversation with three ladies - two traveling for work and another traveling home to Detroit after attending her 25-year class reunion in Owatonna. When I finally made it to the check-in kiosk, I was informed that I had been bumped since it was under 30 minutes before my flight was leaving. 

Delta was horribly understaffed and the agent was cranky and not very helpful. Sorry, sorry, sorry, everything is booked to Chicago - you'll have to fly out tomorrow. What about O'Hara? Without even looking at her screen, "No, those are all full, too. You'll need to go down there (pointing without looking up) to re-book your flight."

I went down there and stood in behind a couple of families to rebook my flight. Only, it wasn't the right line. I hadn't gone far enough "down there." The re-booking line had one agent and about 30 people in front of me. 

While standing in line, a wandering Delta agent handed me a shiny card with an 800# to call for re-booking, telling me and the other hopeless ones that it might be faster to re-book via the phone. She wasn't kidding.

I was on-hold for about 90 seconds before an angel of mercy named Mary came on and was extremely helpful and told me that she could re-book me on a Delta flight to Chicago Midway at 3:20 and she even had a reserved seat for me!

Unfortunately, I had to get back into the check-in line that was still an out-of-control conga line. This time I had a great conversation with a Shattuck-St. Mary's grad who was on his way to Seattle. He was dragging two huge hockey bags and a bunch of sticks taped together, so my my large suitcase didn't seem out of proportion.

About my suitcase; I don't travel light. 

As a matter of fact, I have a suitcase so big I could smuggle a 10-year old in it. It didn't look that big at Macy's when I bought it. A huge bonus with the suitcase is that I can pack lots of winter clothes in it for traveling to skating competitions, but this is a trip to Chicago in July for work. I took it anyway since I might find time to shop. 

Checked the bag and headed to the TSA line. Not bad compared to the Delta line, but the business man in front of me, who hadn't stood in the Delta line since he had a carry-on, was complaining to the TSA folks that they should have more staff. He better not miss his plane or it would be their fault.  Considering my journey so far today, I wanted to knock across the back of his head and tell him to mind his manners and treat people with respect.

The gate area resembles a Mumbai marketplace with people everywhere - leaning against the wall, sitting on the floor, lines going every direction.

The gate agent announced that this flight is overbooked and you could get a $400 credit voucher if you would take a flight later today. I'm tempted since I can always use a flight voucher...

I just don't think I could take spending another four hours waiting in the airport.

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