Pack for Your Connection As Well As Your Destination

a screenshot of a weather forecast

Aka: how I wound up with a furry snow hat in Dallas in July.

This weekend was the last trip I needed to qualify for American Airlines’s Executive Platinum Status Challenge. As before, I was headed to Alaska, but this time I’d left myself almost 24 hours to soak in the gorgeous summer scenery.

Packing was a bit of a challenge. I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do with my day – stroll around the downtown, checking out the Salmon Daze art festival and dining outside taking in the mountains or take a bus to Whittier and do an afternoon glacier cruise.

I finally decided 2 hours before I left for the airport, calling up to book the boat tour and bus transfer. My packing was a bit of genius if I say so myself. I had jeans, shirt, and light waterproof jacket for the boat. Plus a scarf and furry hat (it gets cold on the water). I decided my rubber soled Teva Cabrillo wedge sandals were sensible enough for on board the boat, yet cool enough for the DC heat I’d be coming back to.

I packed two books, my bulky camera for great glacier calving shots, my usual amenity kit, a change of underwear. I debated on bringing my iPad, but decided my laptop would suffice for the plane (since American has power outlets and wifi) and Iâ€d be on the go all other times. And somehow, that all fit into my favorite Tumi Voyageur Quintessential Tote. I was rather proud of myself.

I made it to DCA and discovered there were delays because of the heat. A big problem, because I had two connections. For awhile it looked like I’d make my connection in Dallas but soon it became clear that wasn’t happening and there were no other flights to Alaska I could make that day.

I had three options.

  1. Stay in DC and catch the first flights out that morning, which was dicey since thunderstorms were scheduled to roll in.
  2. Make it to Portland (my second connection) around midnight and catch a flight to Alaska the next morning.
  3. Take my original flight to Dallas and get on the non-stop to Alaska arriving at 7:15PM the next evening, leaving me only 5 hours there.

I needed the miles by July 30, and had no other time I could fly to accrue them and Portland hotels appeared sold out, so door #3 was my only good option

4 hours after scheduled departure, my flight to Dallas finally left.

This unexpected 17 hr layover complicated things though. Dallas was hotter than DC. Jeans and a furry hat weren’t going to cut it. I was wearing a sundress, but my lack of other weather appropriate option meant I’d have to wear the same clothes for 3 days. And I knew better!

It reminded me of going to Thailand over New Year’s Eve with my friend from California. She was leaving a warm destination and going to a warm destination, so she only had flip flops and skirts with her. She hadn’t thought through the day long layover in snowy Frankfurt that would require outdoor walking to get us to our dayroom at the hotel.

Or Jeanne and I on our Jamaican mileage run last February. We were cabbing to/from the airport and our outbound connection was Charlotte, so our sleeveless dresses and strappy sandals were fine. We hadn’t accounted for our return through freezing cold Philadelphia which required boarding an outdoor bus to change terminals. Fortunately we had sunburns to help keep us warm 😛

I survived the lack of ideal attire, but barely survived the boredom. That decision to not bring the iPad since I’d be busy most of the time and have my laptop, power sources, and internet? WRONG. I wound up with lots of time to kill, none of the planes had power outlets, and internet access was pretty infrequent. I couldn’t even spend my long hours of travel getting my fill of Plants vs Zombies, Candy Crush, and my favorite mysteries on Kindle.

So the standard tip about not packing your chargers in your checked luggage can be broadened to include clothes and entertainment 😛


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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