Monday, June 2, 2008

On the Way to Milwaukee

MidWest Airlines LAX to Kansas City to Milwaukee
Monday, June 2, 2008
Approximately 6:00A.M. to 3:30P.M.

We had an early flight from LAX through MidWest Airlines to Milwaukee. First of all, it is always tricky to fly with all the show gear. Every item needs to be carefully packaged, keeping in mind the potential excess baggage weight and resulting charges. I'd admit, before ANY show I have to fly to, I DO NOT sleep. I figured I'll get plenty of sleep on the plane amidst strangers so I generally work through the night. Also, I don't want to accidentally oversleep to miss my flight. It's one of those worries on my mind before any flight. What if I missed my flight? Geez.

I won't judge MidWest Airlines by this flight alone but here's how the morning went. We arrived at LAX early and Nick went to park the truck in extended parking. I stood in line with our SIX luggages (2 of them carry-ons). You would think if they recommend you being at the airport two hours prior to take-off, to allot sufficient time to go through security (this is LAX afterall, not a smaller airport!), the airline staff would be at their post early too. WRONG. So I was the third in line. As the line grew in the next 20 minutes, we all waited until finally a staff member came on board. I already pre-printed our boarding passes but we had to check in the four luggages.

I am assuming it was too early for this particular MidWest agent and maybe he missed out on having that extra cup of coffee he needed this morning, but he was taking forever. Another agent came on board a few minutes after him and already checked in four customers while we were still waiting... still waiting... First there was a question of my name. You see, I have several aliases but all of them are on my license. I hyphenate my name but when I booked the reservations I used my maiden name. It's not rocket science since I've done this with every other flight from Southwest (my regular airlines). At every screen on his computer, he seemed to have to ask his co-worker what to do next.

Now why would they have a trainee working the counter at this hour if he was not yet ready!
Normally, this early in the morning, I just go with the flow because I want to get to the flight with no delays. It is probably hard to imagine that I can lose my temper or be antsy but I actually went to the other agent and asked her if we could move over to her because we had been waiting a long time. I mean, how hard is it to bring up a screen, weigh our luggage and then send us to security to check in the bags? Magically within a few seconds, the luggage tags printed out. In his frustration, he forgot to weigh our bags, so I got off not paying $25 - $50 in excess baggage. Because I worked through the night, I managed to pack only one bag overweight this time, while maintaining the other bags in the "safe" zone. Perhaps this was the only good thing that resulted from the check-in experience.

Nick was responsible for carrying a case (A CASE is 36 books) of
Bead Romantique in his carry-on luggage. Hey he had to earn his vacation afterall! (hahah!) I didn't want to ship the books and have to pay for shipping or having them all dented up. I'm still phobic about shipping merchandise to shows so if I can help it, I will carry EVERYTHING. It's surprising that TSA did not search my luggage as they ALWAYS do. They always seem interested in hearing about my shows and seeing my jewelry too. We got off easy this time. It was our first time flying this airline and also our first time to the MidWest together. Nick is after all from Chicago. We thought we would make the trip part vacation by arriving several days early to take in the city. Of course we would be in for a big surprise since the weather forecast rain the remainder of the week. We packed ponchos (but never used them) and a small travel umbrella too. That was the least of our worries as you will read about in future posts.

Our flight left without a hitch and we were to land in Kansas City, MO for a flight change. I slept like a baby on the flight and then 1 hour left into the flight, the pilot announced to expect high turbulence as the weather was nasty coming up. Hmmm... I've flown a lot the last year and also international in 13 hour flights before, so I thought okay, same old ... same old turbulence. What came next was a roller coaster ride from H*LL. We had to circle around the airport and land the opposite direction of what was intended. The plane went up and down, left and right, swooped side to side... I have NEVER gotten sick on a flight. Well there is always a first time for everything. Fortunate for me, I handled everything. A few seats up, they were not so lucky as I saw the stewardess running with gloves and barf bags. Yes, it was THAT bad. I didn't want to gross you out but... I wanted to illustrate what we bead show folks have to go through to exhibit!

We finally landed 15 minutes later than intended. I was just glad to be on the ground. Everyone in the cabin clapped on landing. YES, me too! I was praying and clutching Nick's right hand from fear, I could have stopped his circulation. Geez, I felt so queasy walking from the plane. The first thing I needed was WATER, not to drink but on my face! Nick needed water so went in search! We waited for the connecting flight and hoped that the experience would not be repeated. Mentally, I said to myself, no more connecting flights to Kansas City, MO! While waiting for the next flight, I looked up at the ceiling and saw a honeycomb design. I thought how beautiful this ceiling would be to re-interpret in glass. So what is a girl to do but to take out her Canon to capture the view. I am sure I looked strange to the other waiting passengers. I've come to a point in my photography that I really don't mind what others think. If I see something beautiful, hey I'll snap a photo of it. If what I happen to be snapping is you, then SMILE? ;o)

On the second flight, we decided not to eat or drink ANYTHING, except chewing gum but the flight went quite smooth. Safely in Milwaukee next, we gathered our luggages and rented a RAV4. We left the airport in search of a Trader Joe's and FOOD! Yes, there was only ONE TJ's nearby in Glendale and we were going there next for some snacks.

More stories of the trip soon,
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