Absolutely EPIC Delta Failures, Somewhat Redeemed

SO, yeah, getting to DC was a massive pain, what with snowstorm “Pax” shutting down the entire East coast the day we arrived.  (Pax? PAX? Why does every storm need a name now?  Also, pax means peace in Latin.  Doesn’t anyone think these things through?) Here’s the FB post I wrote last Wednesday, following 30 hours of travel: 

P10606842/12/14: Philip, the cats and I are in the U.S. . . . barely. We made it to LA before our journey took a slight detour.

So, this happened:

Fail: Woke up at 1am, definitely sick. At the airport by 2:30 for the 5:30 flight, where I thankfully was able to get over the counter antibiotics, as this cold is notorious for turning into a chest infection.

Fail: Which was great, because I woke up from my first nap on the leg from Bangkok to Narita with green ooze in my left eye — clearly conjunctivitis. (Ed. note: or not – possibly a sinus infection.) SRSLY? Ugh. Started popping the antibiotics immediately, as there was no way I was going to get antibiotic eyedrops in the next 24 hours.

Dolphins!  First thing we saw at the beach -- and I'd never seen them in SoCal before, despite spending every summer of my childhood on the beaches there. A super-tanned, 60 something lifeguard with the whitest teeth I've ever seen explained that they showed up 15 years ago and have been around since.

Dolphins! First thing we saw at the beach — and I’d never seen them in SoCal before, despite spending every summer of my childhood on the beaches there. A super-tanned, 60 something lifeguard with the whitest teeth I’ve ever seen explained that they showed up 15 years ago and have been around since.

Win? On the flight from Narita to LA, Philip was so soundly asleep that he didn’t wake up after repeated face slaps and hard pinches, and I seriously wondered if he’d slipped into a coma, before grabbing his chin and shaking his head vigorously, whereupon he snorted awake with a loud, “Whaaa?”

Fail: One hour customs line at LAX because there were two customs officers for 400 passengers. Come ON!!

Delta Fail: After transiting a truly post-apocolyptic construction scene where the sounds of jackhammers made the already traumatized cats even crazier, we were directed outside and up a elevator to ticketing to re-check the cats, where three people gave us different instructions. Finally, frustrated and worried we would miss our connection, I interrupted a gate agent simply to ask if we were in the right lane, and he snapped at me that I was being very rude to the “very important man” he was currently helping (apparently the chauffeur of some 50s starlet – REALLY??? Good to know that my $2800 of tickets and two cats’ lives are less important than a Hollywood chauffeur), he told me I was in the right lane. Skeptical, I fretted and tried to ask another agent roving the line. She looked at the cat carriers and said, “Pets, yes this is the line,” and when I tried to ask again, repeated herself. Finally, I got her full attention and explained that we were just looking for the place to drop off the ALREADY CHECKED IN cats and make our connection, and she finally got us to the right place.

P1060681Delta Fail: Got to our gate and were pulled aside while boarding, where they handed us new boarding passes for another flight IN ANOTHER TERMINAL. After confirming the fact that they realized that there were FREAKING CATS accompanying us, we got over to the other terminal only to find that the alternative flight was cancelled and we had to go BACK to the first terminal to figure out what we’d do.

EPIC Delta Fail: So we finally get to the “customer service” guy at the first terminal, who does not seem to understand that we can’t just hang out in the airport for the next two days with two cats who have been in crates for 28 hours at this point, without food or a chance to pee. “We can’t control the weather.” NO SHIT. But you can control how you act when I’m a little panicked about where my cats are and what will happen to us. I asked if they could fly us to Colorado or Arizona this evening, then I’d spend 2 days with my parents, and fly back to DC on Saturday (which is the first day flights from LA were available) but the CO flight was full and AZ was out because “that would constitute a stopover and that’s not permitted on your fare class.” ARE YOU F-ING KIDDING ME??? You make me spend two days in LA and it’s a “weather delay,” but stopping over in AZ is suddenly a stopover? When the ticket change won’t cost you any more? Nope, instead we’re going to book you on a flight at midnight through Minneapolis. Leaving out the fact that THE AIRPORTS IN DC WON’T BE OPEN TOMORROW, EITHER, the idiot didn’t seem to understand that just because it’s 24 degrees in Minneapolis right now, and that’s not too cold for the cats, at 3 am, it will be and the gate agent will not allow us to board that flight. So instead, he booked us through Atlanta, tomorrow, over my protestations, saying, “Well, at least you have something.” and no hotel — “We can’t control the weather” but he was nice enough to give us a “discount voucher” and suggest that we have the special services desk call for us and see if any of their hotels took cats. The special services desk agent told us she was too busy to call and we could use the pay phone, but, at least, in a last ditch effort to not be entirely as soulless as everyone else had been, booked us on a flight Friday so we wouldn’t have to go through the same rigamarole tomorrow.

P1060656Win? I found a hotel that takes cats a mile from the airport. A $19 cab ride and $400 for two days later (and that’s on top of the $90 a day we’re already paying for our short term apartment in DC), we have a hotel room. With no pool, but cable, so…

Win! Snuggled up with the cats on the bed, hoping to watch some Olympics at some point, having just enjoyed a classic SoCal burrito/soft taco takeout dinner. Only problem is that the antibiotics mean I can’t have that accompanying margarita, and DAMN could I use that right now.

Sometimes you just have to be grateful you and your loved ones are healthy (well, kind of) and safe, and just go with it.

It's been all downhill from there, what with the building site and oil rig next door.

It’s been all downhill from there, what with the building site and oil rig next door.

UPDATE, 2/19: Win: As it turns out, the hiatus in LA was a blessing in disguise, as we spent the day walking on the beach in unseasonably warm weather and watching the Olympics.  Of course, when we arrived at the airport on Friday and checked into our rebooked flight on Delta’s partner Alaska Airlines, we were informed that — despite the fact that we’d already paid $600 for the two cats and our checked luggage — we’d have to pay luggage and cat fees again.  HOWEVER, kudos to Alaska, because the agent, who’d been dealing with miserable people all day, got on the phone to her supervisor immediately about the cat transport fees.  I overheard her whisper, “It’s telling me that they will have to pay a thousand dollars for the cats, and that’s total crap!”  She got the cat fees, but not the baggage fees waived, which is a win in my book.  I actually got her name and wrote to Alaska to thank her for her great service.

Win:  Delta, unbelievably, has offered to refund not only the baggage fees charged by Alaska, but also the taxi and hotel costs, which blew my mind.  So, still an epic fail, but somewhat redeemed after the fact.