Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Trip Back: Part 1 - United, And Why They Suck.

Sorry, everyone, for this late post. School here in Kanazawa has started back up in a frenzy of tests and homework so I hadn't had the time in between the classes to sit down and actually TYPE.

Now as everyone already knows, Japan had undergone the biggest earthquake disaster since the Kobe 'quake (otherwise known as the Hanshin Earthquake of '95). While I might be used to earthquakes and whatnot, the resulting Nuclear Power plants decided that they did not like being jostled so they, as explained in this hilariously awesome (and subtitled) Youtube video; farted.

Funny how these things happen while I'm IN Japan; first the Hanshin 'quake and now this. I get the not-so-subtle feeling that Japan doesn't like me...

That sure WAS a giant accident.

The school in New York decided that they didn't want to deal with their students covered in poo so they ordered a School-wide retreat back to America. TL;DR I got back, got mad at people, the reactors decided to stop being bad, and then here I am, sitting in my squeaky computer chair in the same dorm I had left squeaky clean a few weeks before.

But how did I get here? THIS is the actual topic for this post. It even says it in my title. Seeeeee?


I bet half of the people who read that looked back at that title again. Ha hah!

Enough of this silliness, back to the topic at hand.

I left for Albany Airport with Mark's awesome parents at 2:30 AM to get to the airport early enough so I had time to do all the crap necessary to fly out of the country. Since my flight was supposed to take off at 6:00 AM I would be getting at the airport around 4. That left me 2 hours for all the check-in and other such bothersome things, such as making sure to go to the bathroom and getting a bottle of water before the flight. Oh, and also make sure with a United Airlines employee that I had done everything correctly since I only had one boarding pass for my three flights. (They weren't very nice addressing my problem, I might add. They told me very curtly that I needed to go see someone else after the flight to get the remaining boarding passes; and nothing more was said even though I asked different questions pertaining to my luggage and how I should be handling everything. Basically, United customer service sucks.)

This flight out of Albany would have been fine and dandy except for one small mishap. The plane was going to be two hours late and the passengers who were notified via cellphone or something (it seems everyone is notified about everything through their cellphone. I think people would forget to breathe if their phones didn't tell them to, or make their scheduled potty-breaks, if not already noted in their cellular calendars. :/) were getting on a different, while only slightly late, flight to O'Hare; and I was not told of this. Actually, neither were four other passengers who also booked their flights on Orbitz or Expedia or something.

Darn those Online Travel-agencies. Why do you lure us in with your slightly cheaper fares and funky commercial jingles!

So we sad, tired five, got on the plane two and a half hours later (instead of just two, go figure, Thanks again, United!) and picked whichever seat we wanted on our Puddle-Jumper. This would have been awesome if not for the fact that the plane looked like this.

This meant that even if we all got our own row; WHICH WE DID, the measly two seats we had did not allow us to properly lounge about and I spent half the time curling myself like a baby animal that was simultaneously high on sugar with the squirming power of a thousand baby baboons, and who's father had been a faucet-nose monster with the spigot turned on full. Until I gave up and sat upright on the chair, like a normal person.

Also, there were no first-class seats on this plane. We checked.

An hour and a half later we arrived in O'Hare. I then followed the directions given to me by the not-so-nice counter guy at the United stand, and asked the other United guy where I had to go to get my remaining passes. What follows is pretty much what happened, word by word.

I walked up to the man at the counter who looked terrifically bored at the desk in the waiting area of the gate. "Excuse me." I said, attempting to be polite knowing full well being a disgruntled customer gets nowhere. "I was told to see a person at the gate about the rest of my boarding passes. My next flight takes off in an hour and I believe that the flight number is ---- with Japan Airlines. Could you please help me?"

To which I got,"Go to 5. Get your boarding passes there." Then he grabbed a phone and started punching in numbers while putting the receiver to his ear and glaring at me like I had no business in asking him (nicely!) to do his job.

Once again, United Airlines has the BEST service ever! /end sarcasm.

What was this mysterious 5? Would I get to my flight on time? And DANGIT I needed to pee! I was in a frenzy of thoughts, during this time I somehow managed to figure out that the man had been talking about TERMINAL 5, where the international flights take place, so I made haste and sprinted to the train platform that would take me there.

I got to Terminal 3 in about 25 minutes and I thought I would be having time to spare when I realized, with the slow and sinking feeling that one gets when one arrives to a Stupid Costumes Only! party, and they realize they've taken the flyer entirely too literally and told everyone that they were dressed as a mentally handicapped person when the host's sibling is ACTUALLY handicapped. And to top it off, that very same child was allergic to the cake you brought.

It was a terrible feeling when I realized I could not find japan Airlines ANYWHERE in the terminal. Like the frightened animal I probably looked like, I scrabbled around to find an information desk. I managed to blurt out something coherent enough so that the information guy could glean enough of what I said to point out that Japan Airlines was in Terminal 3, and has been for about 6 months. Also, I had little less than half an hour left.

I profusely thanked the balding, freckled Information booth-man and once again sprinted over to the Train platform to go to Terminal 3.


I suppose you'll find out in the next post; The Trip Back: Part 2 - JAL, And Why I Love Them.