troyce: (Gisbourne dead)
We finally made it back from Dragoncon, no thanks to Continental Express.

Our flight leaving College Station was at 7:30 am on Friday, so I got up at, ack, 5:00 am.  The College Station airport is small, security check-in is a breeze, and has none of the hassles of large airports.  Just one problem: Colquit Airlines doing business as Continental Express.  These are the people who moved up the flight time for our flight to Madison a couple of years ago without telling us, so we arrived at the airport just as the plane was taking off.  This time, they call me at 5:45 to tell us that our flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems (i.e. the rubberband on their plane broke).  All the other connecting flights in Houston to Atlanta were full, so they said our only chance was to drive to Houston to catch our original connecting flight.

So off we go like the wind, except it’s the beginning of labor day weekend, cops are out in full force, and it’s also the time everyone up our ways starts to head into Houston for work.  So lots of traffic and slowdowns.  We arrive at the Continental Terminal to find out that even though there were still 15 minutes until the flight is scheduled, we missed boarding and couldn’t get on.

Now, the nice man at the counter was sooo helpful, putting us on standby, and telling us that where to take our luggage.  He tagged it to show we were on standby so it wouldn’t be put on the plane unless we were actually shown to be on it.  Keep this in mind.

So off we go through security check-in with no problems, and off to terminal C to wait standby for the next flight.  4 people on standby got seated but not us.  So off we go to wait standby for the next flight, in terminal B.  Ride train back to B wishing we were in Disneyworld going to the park.  Wait at terminal B, watch flight board, and no standbys left on board.  Now back on the train to go back to terminal C for the next Atlanta flight.  This time, not only no standbys allowed on, one passenger was bribed to get off so there’s enough seats.  Yes, brilliant Continental thought it would be prudent to overbook for a holiday weekend.

At this point, it’s afternoon, we’re tired, hungry, and have had enough.  We go to the Continental (dis)Service desk and managed to get confirmed seats for 7:00 am on Saturday.  They tell us to go to the baggage service office to get our luggage pulled.  We call Scott and Nancy and tell them they have unexpected houseguests for the night.  Many thanks to Scott and Nancy for keeping us sane, one of the FEW good things of the weekend.

Oh, guess what?  Baggage service office tells us that nice man (see above) lied.  Anytime bags are checked it shows “intent to travel” and so the luggage went to Atlanta.  We aren’t allowed near a plane, but our luggage probably got bumped to first class and sipped free martinis on the flight.

So off to Scott and Nancy’s with only our carryon luggage, and small emergency toilet packet courtesy of our good friends at Continental.  Is toothpaste supposed to have ground glass in it?

We at least had a nice visit with our friends.  Scott was home because of cable repairs, which mean’t no cable tv, and even worse, no internet access.  Off to Nancy’s office at Questia for Martha to send emergency messages so a dealer expecting her for a signing that afternoon wouldn’t think she had been stood up.  Then off to supper, and back to their place to borrow sundries and hit the bed early after a miserable day at the Houston airport and a 4:30 am wakeup to get ready to catch our 7:00 am flight.

Miracle of miracle, we do get on the 7:00 am flight with no problem and arrive in Atlanta.  Rush to the baggage office, and see our luggage behind the glass wall.  With the locked door.  And no one in sight.  Ultimately, we got out luggage, and finding the hotel’s instructions on getting a shuttle van useless, took a cab to the Hilton.

Our room wouldn’t be ready until 3, so we checked our luggage with the bell office, and headed to registration.  The line was around 3 slides of the block.  People later reported having to wait outside in the sun 4 hours to register.  Thankfully, Martha is a guest and qualifies for VIP registration.  Talking to one man quickly got us escorted to a small room with no line to quickly get our badges.  Then off to the hotel restaurant for food finally.  Did I forget to mention no breakfast, because there was no time earlier?  Did I forget to mention why?  Because my damn driver’s license had expired last week and the new one hadn’t arrived yet, and suddenly they noticed.  So I had to go through extra security while an illiterate TSA supervisor who couldn’t even hold a pen properly filled out a long form with painstakingly slowness, then had to have all my carry on searched, tested for explosives, and had a full body patdown.  

I hate flying.  I hate airlines, I hate TSA.

So, we eat, do a quick tour through one of 3 dealer’s rooms that’s so crowded you could barely inch your way through, and it was finally time to get into our room.

Ah, our room.  I fell in love with that room.  I had no choice, as I would not leave that room until Monday.  You see, I suddenly had this overwhelming desire to rush to the bathroom and do my best Linda Blair impersonation sans head spinning.  I’ll skip the TMI to just say it must have been a stomach virus, but I was very sick, and my stomach and chest muscles are still so sore it’s quite painful when I cough.

So yes, at a con with actors from all kinds of tv shows, including Riker and Data from Trek TNG, Uhura from real Trek, Claudia Black (pant pant), and tons of other folks you’d never expect to see at a con, I didn’t see a god damn thing.  No panels, no autographings, no art show, nothing, excpet the last dozen contestants of the masquerade thanks to the hotel tv system.  

Amount of food actually consumed and kept on sat: 0
Amount of food actuall consumed and kept on Sun: 1 bagel and the bread from a turkey sandwich
Monday saw things better, with me hazarding a croissant at breakfast and half a turkey sandwich at the airport.

Martha, at least, got to hit her panels, had a nice couple of autographings, saw some actors she was too shy to talk to, and met up with some online friends.

So, on to our uneventful trip on (not!).

We checked out and left after Martha’s last autographing, getting to the airport early, as I expected security to once again to treat me like my name was Fred Al Quaida.  They didn’t even blink at the expired ID and I said nothing.  So off to grab a bite, and sit at the terminal.  Our plane arrives, we get on board, and then after about 5 minutes the captain says “folks, bad weather in Houston, flight is delayed.  Please disembark.”  So back to the terminal and wait about 45 minutes until new word arrives that Houston really isn’t under water, and it was safe to proceed.

Then Martha gets nauseous on the plane.  Two airsick bags later, we land in Houston.  Fortunately, I’m feeling a bit better and tell her I can probably drive home, rather than having to stay in Houston again and risk infecting Scott and Nancy.  We might need their friendship again if we’re ever foolish enough to fly again.  So off in the airport shuttle to the parking lot, where we get off and see no sign of the car.  Anywhere, and yet this was the section our ticket showed we parked in.  On Friday.  Wrong ticket.  Rather than C10, I remember we might be back in B4, so I leave Martha to guard our luggage (yes, it actually made it on the same flight as us this time, though I think it was bumped up first class again as I smelled alcohol on their breath again).  I finally find the car, and drive back to pick her up, and we’re off for home.

Now fortunately, with my forethought, I brought two empty airsick bags from the plane with us for the drive home.  Martha was fortunate enough to go through both of them.  We got home about 10 pm, and off to bed.  

Today we’re both still under the weather, though I’m in better shape than she is.  Though I’ll point out smugly I was sicker back at the hotel, even though she had to be sick during travel.  I’m supposed to go to work tomorrow, but in my still weakened state, I don’t know how long I’ll last, so I may work a half day.

So in the end, the worst con weekend I’ve ever had, the worst travel experience I’ve ever had.  I continue to recommend that Continental be avoided at all costs.

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