Valley Voices

Even travel agents get the blues

My itinerary was simple, by travel-agent standards. I was traveling from Fresno to Kansas City, Kan., to stay for a few days with family and then on to Minneapolis, for a few more days to do the same. My return from Minneapolis to Fresno – a no-brainer.

When I arrived at the Fresno airport, I noticed there were hardly any people in line. Someone said to me, “Do you know your flight has been canceled?”

“Canceled?” I asked. “Why?”

The attendant explained that Denver was having a bad storm, and all flights there were canceled. The good news was that my airline already had booked me on another airline, and I was now going to Dallas instead of Denver and then on to Kansas. The catch was that my new flight wasn’t leaving until 1 p.m.

With my ride long gone, I had no choice but to wait. I had my newspaper, a couple of magazines and I could always eat something to pass the time. I got my new boarding passes and went to my gate. I did my reading and eating, made a few phone calls and it was nearly time to board.

Alas, it was announced that my flight was delayed for at least an hour. Oh well!

I finally left Fresno about 3 p.m. with a bunch of crabby people all worried about making their connections in Dallas. I didn’t worry about my connection as I had a late flight to Kansas City. On arrival in Dallas, I casually walked to the departure board to see what gate I would leave from. Oh no. My flight was canceled! It was now about 8:30 p.m. with no more later flights!

The attendant assured me they would get me out first thing in the morning on a standby flight or no later than noon on a confirmed flight.

Great! Now what was I supposed to do overnight? She explained that the airline had run out of free hotel vouchers but she had a discount voucher for a budget hotel at a nearby suburb. There was no shuttle available so I would have to pay cab fare both ways. The only other alternative was to spend the night in the airport.

I’ve seen people doing this and it is not for me. I took the voucher and headed to the taxi stand outside. I suddenly realized that I had no idea where my luggage was. Thank heaven I had taken my own oft-given advice to put cosmetics, medication and a pair of underwear in my carry-on.

My cab driver was from Sudan and was very friendly. We made an appointment for the next morning, as I needed another ride back to the Dallas airport. Forty dollars later, we exchanged phone numbers and promised to touch bases in the morning.

The hotel was not in a good area but was clean with a friendly staff. After settling in my room, I realized I was hungry and needed something to eat besides candy bars and peanuts. By the phone was a sticker from Domino’s Pizza promising to deliver to hotel rooms.

Perfect, I would have a pizza and a salad. No such luck! I was told it would be at least 3 hours before they could bring it.

I noticed a Jack In the Box from my hotel window so I went to the lobby and asked the tall Chinese man at the desk if it was safe to walk to this drive-in. To my complete surprise, he said he would walk with me so I would be safe. Such service! So we walked through parking lots and trash cans to reach this fast food burger place.

With a sandwich and a milkshake in hand, I returned to my room only to find that my TV was not working properly. Reluctantly, I called the front desk and the same man came up to fix my TV. As I’m having my dinner, I now realized that it’s very cold in my room. The thermostat wouldn’t cooperate and I didn’t find any extra blankets.

Once again I called the front desk. “I’m sure I must be the worst customer in this hotel, but I can’t get the heat on.” The answer was, “Oh, it’s not on today!” Someone brought me a kind of radiator thing which I could leave on all night to keep warm. Finally I was fed and warm and settled for the night.

I called my driver early in the morning.

Forty dollars more and I was back at the Dallas airport ready for the day.

When the attendant called my name for the standby flight, I was thrilled. She had one seat available and asked if I wanted it as it was a middle seat. Are you kidding? Of course, I wanted it.

For at least the fourth time, I called my nephew in Kansas to change my arrival time. He was there to pick me up with open arms and, lo and behold, something good happened.

My suitcase was there waiting for me.

Joanne Lippert of Fresno is an independent contractor at Altour. Write to her at jl_tlipperttravel@yahoo.com.

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