Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Friendly skies

It’s been a long time since I had a trip that brought a smile to my face without my family, or a fantastic destination. And even more amazing given that there are 10’s of thousands of people in airports all over the world cursing about the American Airlines mass cancellations because of grounded planes.

But as I fly home from Charlotte I can’t help but smile. I’m in the back of the bus as they say, and normally I wouldn’t be so happy about that. However, there is nobody sitting in the middle seat and I’m sitting on a direct flight from Charlotte to Seattle after being bumped when my flight with a layover in Denver was oversold. Darn J

I’m sure that you are scratching your head thinking Marla has lost her mind talking about a direct flight bringing a smile to her face but that isn’t the whole story. It started with a very early rise to catch my 6 am flight to Atlanta on Monday. I arrive at the airport to find I’ve been upgraded to first class which not only gets me the bigger seat, but the much shorter security line which during spring break is a real bonus.

Next up Denver to Atlanta – it’s Masters Week so Atlanta is a hot spot and not being a golfer this doesn’t click right away. But it doesn’t take long to notice the throngs of 50 something golf enthusiasts and how rude they are being. The flight is full of “Premier” United members all flexing their muscle and basically being rude because of the oversold flight causing seat changes. The people watching was great! I board the plane as a dutiful passenger and shortly after we are all seated a ticket agent comes on and asks for one volunteer. I couldn’t jump out of my seat fast enough because I had been seated next to one of the biggest “muscle flexors” and wanted away from him about as much if not more than I wanted a free ticket.

I’m quickly rebooked on a Frontier Airlines flight and find myself with hours to kill. Not only do I have the free ticket, but Megan offers to drive out and visit with me over a meal while I wait. Can it get better?

Frontier Airlines – if you’ve never flown them because like me you thought it was a low budget southwest like airline with animals on the tail wing think again. Nice forest green leather seats, Direct TV at every seat and flight attendants dressed in modern twin sets and sweater. Not looking like the soodo pilot being sported by the attendants on my current US Airways flight.

Atlanta… holy crazy airport, but the beauty of being bumped from my flight is that my luggage is waiting and I could jump right out to the Avis bus. Guess who’s waiting at Avis? More of the muscle flexors and their bad attitudes… assigned a small car for them and their 4 buddies and accompanying golf clubs and luggage. So what do you think I get? That’s right the Lincoln Town car ~ brings a smile to my face just thinking about it. As many of you know last year was the worst travel year of my life. Between lost luggage (8 or 9 times) and almost every flight delayed and some canceled. I saw this as another opportunity to improve my travel Karma and went back to offer up my car to someone who needs more space. Guess what this gets me… a convertible! Too bad with the raining pollen I was scared to put the top down.

Spend a great day catching up with TJ and meeting with one of his accounts. My meeting is awesome and I then head off to the airport for my flight to Charlotte for BD&A meeting #2. I’m very early and end up sitting next to this fantastic family from Australia on a 6 week holiday – 13 year old, 10 year old and the parents. I wanted to be in this family, and envied them for having so much time to take such a proper holiday. I won’t bore you with the details of their trip, but they will see more of this country than 90% of those living here do in a lifetime.

And now here I sit on the plane, scheduled to arrive a few minutes early and several hours before my original flight. Travel life has turned a corner for this pen, bag, paper, magnet, Mousepad, flashlight, lighter, drinkware schlepping traveler!!!

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