Oh me! Oh life! As much as I love Los Angeles, its unpredictable traffic and my penchant to cut things close resulted in quite a screw-up today.
First off, I really need to settle. As much as I love the jet-setting lifestyle of frequently flying between Frankfurt and Los Angeles, it’s a lot more demanding than my old commute between LA and Philadelphia. I am in a state of constant jetlag and my ability to maintain a disciplined schedule of work is compromised when I must throw away a day to travel to Germany and a day to travel back.
Lately, I have been either taking a redeye to Washington Dulles, working all day in the United Club, then taking the late United flight to Frankfurt or flying from LA to San Francisco, then flying from San Francisco direct to Frankfurt on a Wi-Fi equipped 747-400, allowing me stay connected online and even Skype if necessary (though only for short calls).
That was the plan today—a jaunt up to SFO, then an 11hr flight in a comfortable seat with internet to Frankfurt. But I’m now in Washington Dulles having just flown across the country in economy class and now looking at flying economy class to Frankfurt, both flights lacking internet.
And it’s entirely my fault.
On a good day, it takes me 30 minutes to get to LAX. I like to leave in the late morning to avoid the morning rush and I have a friend or family member take me to avoid parking the car (I’ll be away for a few weeks after all). Usually, it takes up to 45 minutes.
Today, I was up before dawn working with a number of clients and just sort of lost track of time. I looked at my clock, saw that it was almost 9am, and realized I had to pack and get to LAX before 10:15a.
Totally doable, I thought. But then a client called, and I answered the phone, and talked for 15 minutes, trying to pack as I talked. This is a sizeable trip so I had to check bag—I do not keep a second set of clothes in Germany.
Finally, I rolled out the door around 9:28a with my father and uncle riding over with me. I had not checked any traffic report, but hoped that there would be no accidents or slow downs.
But there was. Traffic crawled through downtown LA and we lost a lot of time. As we passed the Staples Center it was already 10:07a—I had 7 minutes to travel 10 miles.
Even with pedal to the medal and a judicious use of the carpool lane, we pulled up to T6 at 10:21a—I was six minutes late.
I ran inside, flagged down an agent, and she graciously agreed to do her best to get my bag tagged to SFO and on to FRA. But a supervisor denied her request and I was in no position to argue or even plead—by now it was almost 10:30a and my flight had been boarding for 15 minutes.
I could have left the bag behind and made my flight, but I needed my clothes and the other stuff in it. That meant a rebooking via Washington Dulles on a very full flight.
Now with a couple hours to spare, I went over to the Alaska Airlines’ Boardroom in Terminal Six for a late breakfast followed by an early lunch. As an aside, the breakfast pancakes and lunch soup/salad really hit the spot.
The LAX-IAD flight itself was pleasant enough: an aisle seat in Economy Plus and very nice FAs. Even power ports in each seat to keep my laptop and phone charged.
But still a very frustrating way to start my trip back to Frankfurt, especially if I wind up in economy tonight.
The check-in agent at LAX said that supervisors will generally make an exception if you check your bags in between 40-45 minutes before the flight, but not any closer to flight departure than that. I was close, but not close enough.
I sure do hope that next time I go to the airport I will allow myself a little more time.