Saturday, December 14, 2013

Euro-Trip Day 1 - Everybody sucks and I want to die

Airports.

I fucking hate airports.  Nothing turns a happy, good time into misery and frustration like airline travel.  You start the morning all high on the adventure of travel, then you arrive at the airport and have your soul sucked out by airline workers and the TSA.  I don't think all those scanning machines they have are actually x-ray machines or miiliwave meters, or whatever, those are joy-happiness-soul sucking machines.  And the airline workers are all passive-aggressive sadists.  As if that wasn't enough, have I ever mentioned that I have a pathological hatred for large groups of people and waiting in lines?

I arrived three hours before my flight was set to leave for Europe and found that my airline was closed.  Yes, that whole section set aside for US Airways was closed.  No one there, lights off.  There was a sign that said it would open at 9 pm, my flight was supposed to leave at 9:20.  Then, I noticed a tiny sign, off to the side and easy to miss, that said my flight was being checked in at one of the other airlines.

I walked all the way across the airport to the other terminal.  It was packed with people.  I waited through the line, got up to the airport counter and was told I had to go through a different baggage check point.  Previously, I'd gone through the US Airways check point and gotten a colored label on my bag.  Apparently, the different terminals require different colors so I had to get out of line, get rechecked by the same people for a different terminal, and go through the line again to get back to the counter.  I get back up and tell them I'm checking in for a US Airways flight and they look at me like I'm crazy.  It takes 20 minutes and two managers later that they find someone who knows what's going on and I get checked in.

Then I have to wait through the long-ass line and go through the TSA check point.  Soul sucking machine, engage.

I arrived three hours early but by now I'm barely on time for my flight.  The attendant does this big long speech before we board about how large carry on bags needed to be checked because they were short on overhead space.  Apparently no one listened because by the time I got on board they were entirely full and I had to cram my backpack under the seat and live with even further restricted foot room.  This lack of consideration in taking up all the overhead space would be repeated with every single flight I took, over thirty hours of traveling to get to Europe.

Ok, I have to get this off my chest... There is at least one overhead bin for each row section, you shouldn't be allowed to put your carry on in another overhead.  Your overhead was full when you got there, so you put your bag in my overhead, my overhead is full so I have to find another place to put my bag, and so on until the last twenty passengers or so are shit out of luck through no fault of their own.  It's a fucked up system.  Think about that the next time you're flying.  And when you see Grandpa with the rolling, huge, super-delux-fuck-your-carry-on bag that takes up the whole space, give him the finger and shove his bag out the cabin door when no one is looking.  Or pee on it and blame it on the toy poodle in Grandma's lap two rows over.

Five hours later I arrive at my first layover in San Francisco.  I should mention here that ICE has apparently never been to an airport because I was amazed at how few airport workers spoke English at each of my stops.  Seriously, I understand that airport workers need to speak a variety of languages to communicate to passengers from around the globe... but in the United States shouldn't one of those languages be English?

I had a two hour layover before my flight from San Francisco to Rome.  I looked over the flight boards and my flight wasn't listed.  Eventually, I figured out that San Francisco's airport is divided into separate terminals for different airlines.  I needed to find Delta but was in a United terminal.  There was also an international terminal, further complicating the issue.  I walked around to half a dozen different counters but no one could tell me where I was supposed to go, they worked for a different airline.  Finally, I had to call Delta to get any information.  I needed to go to gate 45 at a different terminal, she gave me the info and off I went.

This is where I had to leave the secured area of the airport, meaning that when I arrived at the new terminal I would have to be screened again.  How retarded is that?

I get to the right terminal, wait through security again, and go inside.  I look at the numbers, gates 8-32...  Where's 45?  I walked around but couldn't see anything pointing the direction I needed to go.  It turns out that there are two different parts to the terminal, completely separate, with different gates.  I was in the right terminal, but not the right part of the terminal.  And there was no access from my part to the part that I needed to be in.  I had to exit the secured area, walk a hundred feet down, and go back through security to get to the right part of the terminal.

Retard points for the San Francisco airport designers... infinity and counting.

Here's a question for you, why the fuck is every airport completely different?  There are different signs, different organizations, different procedures, different layouts... every time you fly in to a new airport it's like you're visiting a foreign country, a poor lost tourist totally at the whims of this strange land.  Some airports are nice, make some sense, and have lots of information posted so you can find your way around.  Other airports are like, "Fuck you, figure it out.  Or don't, I don't give a shit either way."

Now, the flight from San Fran to Rome should have been simple but it wasn't.  On the ticket there was a stopover listed in Atlanta.  When the airlines say stopover, they mean layover.  We had to get off the plane, walk to the other side of the terminal (none of which was listed on the boarding pass, so more talking to non-english speaking airline workers to figure out where to go), and wait for two hours for our flight to board.  Looking at my itinerary it listed two layovers, San Fran and Rome.  That was it, not so bad for flying around the world.  Of course, the stopover wasn't listed.  Why not?  It was exactly the same as the other layovers, so what is the difference between the stopover and a layover?  I'm pretty sure it's another scam from the airlines to falsely make the itinerary look better to the ticket purchasers.

Thankfully, the flights to Rome and then on to Greece were easy compared to the previous flights, though overhead space was still ridiculously over full.

So, I get to my final destination.  My bags miraculously made it through all of the flights (after my previous 30 hours I fully expected them not to).  I go through customs and all the other BS.  And walk for two miles towards what I think is the rental car area.  And no, you won't see me complaining about the foreign airline workers not speaking English, I'm in their country not mine.  And honestly, most of them spoke better english than the workers in the US.

I get to the car rental agency that has a reservation for me.  Through some computer/personnel/asshole issue they lost the reservation and didn't have anything available.

Now, I've been traveling for over thirty hours with almost no sleep, frustrated at almost every single turn, and I'm about ready to jump over this counter and fuck some bitches up.  But I restrain myself.  It takes a mighty self restraint but I manage to talk to the other counters and find another one that can get me a car.  Finally.  But my boss is going to be pissed when he finds out it's going to cost about 400 dollars more than the original reservation.

Fuck him, I'm tired.  And frustrated.  And I'm at my hotel, I plan on sleeping for the next fourteen hours.  Traveling is supposed to be this grand experience, how exactly has the airline industry and the TSA figured out how to so thoroughly destroy any joy that could be had?  Somebody needs to get fired and the whole industry needs to be completely redone.

The adventures in getting from the airport to the hotel can wait until tomorrow.

And fuck airports.  That is all.

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