Today I’m introducing a new section to netZoo called Travel Hacks. I’ve traveled quite extensively (at times) over the past 15 years and in digging through my many notes and recollections, I realize there are quite a few tips, tricks, and secrets that I’ve come across. I’m hoping these posts are helpful to those who read the blog or stumble upon it and I know it will be helpful in digitally archiving the more incredible encounters and experiences of the past, present, and future.
This past weekend I met up with more than a dozen college friends for a long weekend retreat on the Pacific Coast (photos here). We chose Oregon because many of us have relocated to the West Coast since graduating from the University of Iowa in Iowa City between 1997 and 1998 and perhaps more notably, one of us needed to stay close to Portland with a seven-week old (these plans were made in early 2008) and two others were not far in western Washington State.
This is how many people spend their holiday travels — being given the runaround by their airlines on an otherwise perfect weather day before finding themselves stranded in Dallas with a voucher to the Westin at the airport to kill 20 hours.
This is also why I do everything I can to take direct flights and when not possible, avoid flights with stopovers of less than one hour, or at least make certain that my airplane will be waiting for boarding bhy the time I’m through security — not, as was the case yesterday — still en route from DFW, in spite of perfect weather throughout the southern U.S.
I’m flying on American Airlines, and I’m using miles, so I do have the flexibility to switch things up without penalty and I did speak to a very nice woman on the phone as my LAX-DFW delay grew inexplicably longer, even after the 767 was sitting at the gate. Originally my 1:25 flights was scheduled to arrive DFW at 6:35 and I was to fly DFW – EZE at 7:25. Even after the plane was loaded in record time — like 15 minutes, we sat at the gate for 30-45 minutes while cargo was loaded and the truck was hooked up to taxi us to the runway. There were about a dozen other folks on this flight who were headed to Argentina. Upon landing — around 7:45 — I momentarily raised my fist as the recording on the other end of the phone (I dialed AAAdvantage the moment we touched down) said your flight has been delayed. “It is now departing at 7:35.” Which, I confirmed with the representative who helped me out a minute later, meant that it had already left. I was able to confirm seats on a flight that will hopefully get me to Buenos Aires tomorrow morning and I had it confirmed before I even got off the plan in Dallas. But, again it entailed ANOTHER stop over, this time with only a 45 minute window. I’ll be headed for Miami in 90 minutes (my ticket says) and then will be off for Buenos Aires 45 minutes after arrival — only 5 gates away. There is a later Miami to B.A. flight but it is entirely booked (as was the earlier DFW-MIA flight). Fortunately, I did not book any hotel for tonight so I am not actually losing any money out of this whole delay and still have 17 days or so to live it up in South America.
I’m typing this from the Admiral Club at DFW where I’ve been most of the day. Tried every trick in the book to get free access — after all, they made me miss my “big meeting” in Buenos Aires this morning. But settled for what apparently they think is a great deal. Free WiFi for $50 and access to their cozy chairs and not-as-trafficked bathrooms. Talk about abuse of the “free” concept. Kind of like my “free” $5 lunch voucher. That should be able to by me a sandwich — without the meat and veggies.
That’s the update from DFW. Things are shaping up great for the next couple weeks and I did get some time to research and organize what I will be doing — which should work out even better than ever, in the aftermath of the failed travel agent experiment (more on that another time… maybe).
Expected arrival in EZE 7:10 am the 22nd. I’ll be picked up and deposited at 248 Finisterra Hotel, which looks great and was even written up in the NYT a few months ago. I’ll be hooking up with Marcelo Gasio from WCM Argentina and Noah Kagan in the next couple days and spending two nights at Solar Soler, which is less expensive than 248 Finisterra but appears to be about as dope, and in a cool ‘hood. Chances are that I’ll take advantage of available flights on the 25th and begin the trek to Patagonia — at the moment flights on the 26th and 27th to Bariloche look tight but 25th is wide open. Plans will be more fleshed out after spending the afternoon tomorrow soaking up the Buenos Aires summer air. I can’t wait. Cross your fingers for my flights. And to all you other holiday travelers — flight the power!