My travel plans for Wednesday 13 February looked good – heading HOME after rotation #11. Weather was clear in Atyrau Kazakhstan, scheduled to leave at 7:30 am. Scheduled five hour flight to Amsterdam with an 80 minute layover. Then on a non-stop KLM flight to SFO, scheduled to arrive at 12:30 pm. If all things went well I would then catch BART to Orinda, take a taxi home, put my things away, maybe even run an errand and then pickup Andrew from the bus stop at 4 pm. I think it is so cool to leave Kazakhstan at 7:30 am and arrive in the Bay Area at 12:30 pm.
It did not go as planned.
When I got up in the morning at Atyrau Transit Hotel (ATH) I learned the flight to Amsterdam was delayed – no explanation but advised that it would now depart at 10 am. Damn, there goes the non-stop flight to San Francisco. Good thing I had held onto the guest office key at ATH; went had breakfast then over to the office to get on-line. So I finished a couple work notes / documents things I did not get done the night before, that I had planned to handle once I got home. Probably better I did as it was still fresh in my mind. Wrapped it all up in about two hours and then developed a list of priorities for my next rotation (feeling pretty on top of things at work). Then I looked over my list of things I would like to do / get done when I get home (am sure Karen will add to it but good to have a plan). Someone popped their head and told me the flight to Amsterdam would not depart until 10:40 am. So about 9:30 I shut off the computer and walked over to the airport.
I startled myself when I saw that everyone had already checked in. Thought maybe the flight was actually going to leave at 10 am as I originally had heard, that I misunderstood the message from the guy who poked his head in my office. So I walk up to the counter and they tell me the flight will depart at 10:40 but they have NO business class seats left. Great. Now I have to ride economy and no free beer. They said they would give me a beer :). I did get my own row in economy so was able to nap a bit – otherwise an unevental trip to Amsterdam.
Go to the KLM transfer desk, explain the situation (delayed flight) and they rebook me on a flight to Detroit, then on to San Francisco. Flight leaves in about 3 hours so I head over to KLM lounge. Eat some snacks, read the paper, drink a few Heinekens (are you seeing a theme here?), even take a shower (which was a nice refresher, good way to kill some time). I leave the lounge about an hour before the fllight to Detroit is supposed to depart, then find out it is delayed about an hour. So I go back to the KLM lounge, another Heineken, charging of electronics, and then head to the departure gate.
The flight I am on is operated by Delta who is a partner with KLM. I usually think Delta is not as nice as KLM, especially since KLM gives out their cute KLM porcelian houses (which I now will only have 21 vs. the 22 times I have gone back and forth to Kazakhstan – yeah I’m a bit crazy about collecting KLM houses). But this is a nice Delta flight – the seats in business class lie flat and are positioned such that you have maximum privacy. So I read a bit, eat the meal, take a sleeping pill, and sleep for about 4 hours. I woke up once, then fell back asleep. The crew was nice, kept bringing me waters (all those beers deyhdrated me). I would be happy to take that flight again if I had to.
So we land in Detroit, I find a Delta Lounge so I can have a snack and charge my iPhone. Lounge is not as nice as KLM lounge in Amsterdam (chairs not as comfortable) but it’s fine. I drink coffee (enough with the beer as I still have another 4+ hour flight ahead of me), make some calls home so family knows I am in the USA, and then read, browse the internet, even write some random thoughts about family and work. I adjusted my watch to Chicago time and would periodically look at it – planned to head for the gate about an hour early. At what I thought was 7 pm I gathered everything up and noticed my iPhone said 8 pm. Oh no, I set my watch wrong. I rushed to the gate but as expected the flight had already left – I missed my damn connection. Detriot is New York (eastern) time zone, not Chicago (central) time zone.
Now I slowly walk back across the terminal to the Delta customer desk, tell them it was my fault missing the flight, and they said they will just book me for tomorrow (no change fee since I was travelling business class). Not sure why but it took over an hour to arrange the flight for the next day. While waiting I asked the desk agent where I should stay and she said, oh let me take care of that for you. She gave me a voucher to the Best Western where Delta crew stays, complimentary (so my mess up did not cost me any money, just time). So I found the shuttle and headed over to the hotel. Had a grilled cheese in the hotel bar with a couple more Heinekens, and off to bed. Woke up at 4 am, took a hot bath (can’t remember the last time I have done this), cleaned / organized my back pack, and then wrote this entry. Boring huh? And you thought there would be something of interest about Detroit in this entry.
Now I am going to grab some breakfast, then head to the airport. Will just sit at the gate for two hours – do not want to miss this flight.
So what did I learn? Make sure you know what time zone you are in, even when you are tired. I also learned that even though I screwed up I did not take it too hard, mostly let it go. Makes me realize I should be less hard on the kids when they screw up.