#TravelFail: Taking the Long Way to San Francisco

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We’re as big a fans of mileage runs as anyone. But sometimes the most direct route/plan is preferable and anything is a huge problem. Like last weekend. When we wound up flying from DC to Philadelphia just to fly back to DC and then to San Francisco, thereby missing our pre-paid expensive cellar tasting at a Napa winery by 30 minutes.

It was a dark and stormy night last Thursday with heavy rains were drenching the East Coast and causing major delays nowhere but Philadelphia airport. Unfortunately, that was where we were connecting — DC to Philly to San Francisco, arriving at midnight. Our first flight was on time, right up until boarding, then it had a slight delay. It wasn’t until the door closed that we learned we would be sitting on the plane for another hour.

Jeanne and I were frantically researching our options before and after take off and for awhile it looked like we might make our flight. But we missed it by 10 minutes. Something I discovered when we landed and saw US Airways had given our first class seats away. But US Airways not only had our tickets on a rebooked flight first thing in the morning waiting for us, they also had a hotel voucher since we’d missed the last flights out to the west coast that night.

US AIrways Hotel Voucher

And to make it better, the hotel was connected to the airport, so despite the worst wine prices I’ve seen in the US, we were able to decompress a bit with minimal inconvenience. Until we noticed we weren’t on the upgrade list for the flight the next morning. That was strange…

Double checked our tickets. Yes, we were on the first flight out in the morning, but it was for SATURDAY morning, not Friday. AUGH. We called, but at this point it was 10PM and all the flights out the next morning were pretty much sold out. The best they could do was get us on the 6AM flight back to DC and then put us on the 8AM United flight to San Francisco.

This wasn’t ideal for me since I was targeted for the US Airways triple elite qualifying miles which only applies to US Airways flights (not codeshares). Still, if we could get out to San Francisco before Saturday, it was worth having to spend lots of time in the future fighting for original routing credit.

So it all worked out, sort of. At security my boarding pass they had printed at check in wasn’t scanning. The TSA pre-check agent said I could go back to the counter or just check in at the nearby kiosk. Then the kiosk told me my reservation didn’t exist — not with my confirmation number, not with my credit card number, not with frequent flyer number. But I had a boarding pass and was running short on time, so I went through the regular security who let me through even though it wouldn’t scan, and was then delayed as my bladeless corkscrew was used as a training opportunity.

I rejoin Jeanne and Mr. Heels First at the gate in a total panic, but fortunately the agent says she can see our reservation. Phew.

We get to DC, where I again have to go through the regular line since my ticket won’t scan. We get to the gate. Turns out United doesn’t see our reservation. !!! That eventually gets straightened out before all the overhead space is gone, but we’d lost our original seats. You’d think it couldn’t get worse than losing seats on the last row of the airplane…but we lost the aisle seat, so poor Mr. Heels First was stuck in a middle seat in the row in front. (He kindly let us have the window/middle seat so we could get work done).

View from back of plane and Mr Heels First head

But at least we were headed to San Francisco, probably arriving early and definitely having enough time to make our 1:30 Library Wine tasting appointment at Chateau Montelena. And we did arrive early. And then waited for a gate long after our scheduled arrival time. It was noon before I picked up the rental car and fast driving could only get us there at 2. It was too late to join the non-refundable tasting, but they were nice enough to bring out all the library wines so we could try them at the regular tasting counter.

Chateau Montelena Library Wines

Not a complete loss, but not exactly the relaxing mini-vacation we had hoped for!


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