Okay, I made it to the first leg of the trip, which is Philadelphia, and got here with enough time to post something. It was an easy walk for the C-Gates to the A-Gates about 10 minutes, so all's well.
I had an odd experience trying to check-in for my flight online the day before leaving. I got an error message saying that I couldn't check in and had to do so instead at the airport with a Customer Service agent. Surprised by this, as well, I called the airline -- and they were surprised by it, as well. This isn't the odd experience (it turns out to be a normal glitch that they didn't know about on the phone banks, but at the airport they explain you can use the self-service kiosks and don't have to stand in line for a Customer Service agent), but the background.
As the phone agent and I tried to figure out why I couldn't check-in online, to no avail, she offered the suggestion that perhaps it's because this is a two-leg flight that first went to Philadelplhia and then on to an international destination in Lisbon. No, I said, that can't be the problem, because I've taken a lot of international flights from Los Angeles and never couldn't check-in online before.
There was a pause, and then the airline phone agent lowered her voice almost conspiratorially and said in a near-whisper, "Trump has never been president before."
I almost burst out laughing (or crying), sort of shocked that an airline rep would say that with such brutal honesty to an unknown customer. I did chuckle, though, and said "No, that can't be the reason...because I'm trying to leave the country. " She laughed and answered, "Ah, well, then you should be okay."
I wrote a year ago about a very good experience I'd had with American Airline customer service over an annoying problem. The short version is that they were having a lot of their flights leave from the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, which defeated the purpose of having just bought a TSA PreCheck number since those aren't used at the International Terminal. And so, I've largely stopped flying American and using my AA credit card. I do have a lot of frequent flyer miles on the airline, though, so I flew American on occasion. While at the airport, on a whim I asked about them still flying from the International Terminal. It turns out that there might be good news on the horizon. An agent there said that after May/June they were taking over the desks from Delta -- which would be moving -- and pretty much take over Terminals 4 and 5, which means they will likely ("likely" being the operative word, since he wasn't in on the final decision...) no longer need the extra space and won't be flying from the International Terminal any more. I'll check on that later, but...here's hoping.
I had another chance to laugh with the flight. With 20 minutes to go before boarding, they announced that the flight was overbooked and were offering a $500 reimbursement for anyone willing to give up their seat! It doesn't seem to be a problem, since they haven't yet repeated the request. (Which confirms what I noted to a friend the other day, that Delta's really smart move to authorize agents to offer up to $9,950 for bumping someone was a great PR decision, since they'll likely never have to offer more that $1,500, and usually much less.) I'd have considered the $500 offer, except that I have a connecting flight to Lisbon to make.
The word from the elves back at the homestead say that all is well there. They've kept the electricity going and haven't blown out any circuits, so things should keep running.
That's all for now. The flight to Lisbon boards in about a half-hour. (It's 8:15 PM, Philadelphia time.) I get in to Portugal during mid-morning and most likely will be able to post again tomorrow afternoon (Monday), Los Angeles times.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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