The plan was simple enough. Fly to the inauguration and then fly back. But hastily-arranged, last-minute trips a rarely turn out smoothly. This trip was no exception.
Award space opened up at the last minute from Los Angeles to Washington via Newark. Late afternoon departure from LA, then a 5.5hr overnight connection in Newark before connecting to DCA.
The LAX to EWR flight was delayed, but that did not matter — we had plenty of time to make the connection. Or so we thought…
The flight to Newark was pleasant — we had an open middle seat between us and I enjoyed a delicious cheeseburger from the BOB menu:
We arrived about 1am into Newark and John, who refused to eat any of the onboard food, was starving. With five hours before the flight and all airport eateries closed till morning, we hopped in an Uber and soon found ourselves at an IHOP in Irvington, NJ.
After an extremely unhealthy late-night snack of an omelet with red velvet pancakes, we caught an Uber back to the airport. Our driver was…well shocked…to see us, wondering what the heck we were doing in Irvington, which according to the driver held the distinction of the highest murder rate per capita for many years before being displaced by Chicago. I tried to verify that online and cannot, so perhaps that was an exaggeration.
Back at the Airport, Our Trouble Began
Back at the airport around 4am, we waited for the United Club to open at 4:30am. Our flight was departing from from Terminal A and we were in Terminal C, so the plan was to take the intra-terminal bus transfer from C to A.
After a shower in the United Club, we left around 5:10a for the bus stop, a four minute walk away. We noticed over 75 people in line and the lines were not moving. We stood in line for 10 minutes and it did not move. There was an issue with the bus. An agent started walking through the line, warning us that the “bus don’t run frequently this hour” and that it could only accommodate 17 people at a time.
As it approached 5:30a, we saw we would never make it and spoke to her. She suggested we try to go outside, take a taxi to Terminal A, then re-clear security. Seeing that the line was not moving, we took her up on her advice and ran out. We ordered an Uber and within two minutes were on the four-minute ride from Terminal C to Terminal A at a cost of $8.
The Futile Dash
We made it at 5:38a, but the security line (a single line for PreCheck and non-PreCheck) was 40 people deep. We asked people if we could cut, but after advancing a few places a stereotypical Jersey man cursed us out and told us no. So we waited.
By 5:50a we had cleared security, 10 minutes prior to departure, but the door had closed early. The flight was oversold by four and so I am sure the gate agent was gleeful that she could bump us off without having to deal with IDBs.
The agent was totally unsympathetic, practically smirking at us for missing the flight. Her message was clear — “If I flush, will you go away?”.
We walked over to the customer service desk and thankfully a much nicer agent assisted us. She was not all surprised when we told her what happened and said the bus is a chronic problem. All flights to DCA or IAD, not surprisingly, were full. She suggested we take Amtrak or rent a car and send in the receipt for a refund. She also stated that we would get “all” the miles back for our trip.
With no time to verify the notes she had placed in the system, we got to work finding a way down to Washington. Amtrak was sold out except for one train that was $400 each. One-way car rentals were well over $200, not even counting tolls and gas. So as I wrote about yesterday, we used Uber to get down to DC…
First Class Queen messaged that he had inauguration tickets for me which we picked up after dropping our bags off at the Park Hyatt.
Somehow on the way to the Metro station I lost the tickets.
They were in an envelope, which I placed inside my overcoat. It must have fallen out because we arrived at Union Station and I could not find the tickets.
But, I also thought out of the box. Inauguration tickets do not change in appearance from event to event. Colors are shuffled, but the text font and size is nearly identical. I had some yellow tickets from the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2005 and those happened to be preferred standing for this inauguration. I figured we could try to use those and hope that they would not be closely scrutinized.
It worked like a charm. We just flashed those yellow-bordered tickets and were able to secure great space in a prime standing area. Lines were long, but we were able to watch the Presidential motorcade drive past us:
Then we got too greedy.
We noticed that instead of stopping in the assigned yellow area we could continue all the way up to the very front, just below the podium where the President-Elect would be sworn in. We thought we were home free until suddenly three secret service agents surrounded us and demanded to see our tickets.
I asked if this was the yellow standing area and one of the agents again demanded to see my ticket. I flashed the ticket again and thankfully the agent also did not read it but just noted the color. He scolded us for being in the wrong section and sent us back to where we were before.
While not the greatest view, we were fairly close. The ceremony proceeded on schedule and thankfully the rain was not as bad as anticipated.
We found a ticket afterwards. Turquoise would have been very helpful earlier…
After the inauguration we headed to Moby Dick’s in Georgetown for some incredible Persian food, then returned to the Park Hyatt and took a 7-hour nap. We tired taking Metro from Union Station, but decided just to use Uber since it was only $11 and Georgetown does not have a Metro stop.
Around 9pm, we woke up, worked out, then headed out to one of my favorite restaurants, Old Ebbitt Grill, for dinner. I have enjoyed this restaurant for over 15 years — it never disappoints.
Finally, about 12:30a, we returned to the hotel and I worked for a couple hours before calling it a night. What a day…