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I once had a theory that air travel was streaky – if it starts off poorly, it snowballs into a hellish day of misery that looks like a bad Ben Stiller movie (wow, is that redundant).

Usually, if you can catch a break early (“exit row?  Why thank you”), it’s smoooooth sailing from take off to touchdown.

I shattered my own theory into more pieces than my jaw five months ago.

For starters, I booked my flight on airmiles left-over from college.  Living in Alaska, we amassed so many I’ve been bouncing about the continent with hardly a thought.  With the airmiles trip, Northwest Airlines likes to make sure they apply the necessary amount of penny-pinching nad-kicks to even things out.

So, my free flight to Phoenix cost 113.00 bucks, six a.m. departure dates for the way down and back, and three flights each way, just to make sure I regretted having Silver Elite Status at their rinky-dink airline.  Enjoy your three middle seats, jackass… freebies don’t get to choose.  Huh.

NWA 1 – Justin 0.

I arrive just before five to a well-coffeed check-in girl who promptly changes all my seats to my preference, exit row aisles.

NWA 1 – Justin 1

I get in my roomy seat, to find out it’s the front row of exit row seating, which means it doesn’t recline.  It’s 5:45 a.m.  Sighhhh…

NWA 2 – Justin 1

While waiting in my own personal hell, the spacious, well equipped, wonderfully great Seattle airport that I’m forced to hate for a multitude of reasons (including the 44 hour Christmas layover), my flight gets delayed an hour.

NWA 3 – Justin 1

Then cancelled.

NWA 4 – Justin 1

I ran to the customer service lady like a one-timer off Ovechkin’s stick the second they announce the cancelled flight.  I was carrying no bags, alone, and with a vast knowledge of how airport rescheduling works - at least a half dozen people mistake me for Usain Bolt (or someone who reeeally had to pee).

Get this – The can put me on a flight in 40 minutes, directly to Phoenix, with time to get my bags on the right flight.  I would be in Phoenix two hours early and with one connection less on the rare lucky airline break.  Insane luck.

That’s a three-pointer and you know it is.

NWA 4 – Justin 4

The clock ticked down as I deplaned and headed for the baggage claim… NWA had the ball with the chance to score at the buzzer by not bringing my bag, but I heard the lady talking on the phone to someone… she assured me it would show up.  She realllly assured me.

It was a valuable bag – a money order, GPS, the laptop, all lovingly wrapped in bubble wrap amoungst clothes.  If it showed up, this would definitely be a victory for me.

I fought valiantly.  I fought hard.  The bag… and the game… was lost.

NWA 5 – Justin 4.

NWA should partner with Air Canada to form a super airline, where I envision their ultimate business model to involve relocating to the top of a high mountain somewhere.  From there, you pay them an ungodly sum of dollars, get a swift kick to the junk, then they strap you to a hang-glider and the pilot aims you at your destination and shoves you off a cliff.

And the flight crew chucks non-honey roasted peanuts at you while you fall.


8 Responses to “Buzzer-Beater”
  1. pat says:

    Column: Buzzer Beater – Priceless
    Funny stuff dude!!!I hate flying….

  2. Kristen says:

    oo i wish i could say i have no idea about the trouble of airlines.. but, i can’t. i do feel sorry for you, but yet it still causes me to laugh. having flown every airline known to man and having been to all the airports you mention, i feel your pain, but it doesn’t matter what airline you get, you will probably not have a good experience. lol i am always hesitant to get excited when good things happen, because it will usually be followed by a long ass delay and horrid airport food!

    ~ironically, i am sitting the Cincinnati Airport delayed for at least 2 hours! lol .. thanks for the entertainment as i wait.

    love the blog, always makes my day a bit better! keep writing

  3. rm says:

    You checked your laptop and a money order??!!??

    How many concussions *have* you had? You need one of those “ESPN messenger bags”. Maybe with all the love you give PTI in your blog, Mr. Tony can set you up with some swag so you won’t have to entrust your laptop to the airlines.

    Good to see the Pens up 2-0 :) .

  4. jtbourne says:

    In my defense, the laptop has to pried open with pliers, I have to hit shift 6 to make a question mark, and seven of my random keys have this Spanish letter under it (é). If it broke, I would have loved that tragedy.

  5. Ally says:

    Wow. That sounds like a hell of a day! For 10 years, I used to fly 4 times a year from Houston to Sault Ste. Marie, MI once my parents split. And I’ve got some stories along those same lines(getting bumped up to first class), and others that are just atrociously awful(let’s just say that my flight also included a 3 hour road trip).
    Glad that things worked out for you though!

    From “random” to “sports and politics” and the pictures of the cute and cuddly things-including the Gillies Newfies, I LOVE THE BLOG! It always provides a welcome distraction during the workday. Keep it up!

    Hope everything works out well for you and yours!

  6. Griff says:

    I can’t believe a veteran like yourself broke the two cardinal rules of flying.
    1 Don’t check anything unless they absolutely force you.
    2 Always get drunk first.

    You need a laptop bag, give me an address and I’m sending an Rbk laptop bag.

  7. SDC says:

    At least you didn’t have to wear a suit!

  8. Lizzie says:

    I’m late to this party, but oooh, this is a rough one.

    But if you count a single trip as a game, I think I’m up in the overall series with USAir because of one of my favorite tricks I’ve discovered. I fly back and forth between Boston and Pittsburgh many times a year. For some reason, even though that’s a short flight, there always seem to be really cheap options if I go USAir with a stop in Philly. But then, the first leg is often overbooked. So when they ask for volunteers and say they’ll get you on the next flight to Philly, I just go up and say “Hey, I’m not actually going there, so if you can get me to my final destination another way, I’ll give up my seat.” Every once in a while, they just send me through NY or DC instead, and it’s pretty much a wash except now I also have that freebie ticket for being bumped.

    But even better, I very often end up on the direct flight I passed up originally for the cheaper fare, AND I still get the freebie ticket. It is awesome.

    (Of course, I’m flying again Saturday, and posting this has probably called up some kind of karma that’s going to bite me. Fingers crossed.)

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