September  09,  2021

How I remembered everything I forgot about flying

I got into consulting because I wanted to travel. Over the course of my career, I have worked in 70 cities, in 11 countries, and on 4 continents. On weekends and holidays I travel just for fun…visiting another 26 countries, 2 more continents and countless other cities. In total, I’ve flown well over 2,500 times; I am the definition of a frequent flyer. I’ve had status on most major airlines and was Premier 1K (the level above Platinum) with United. I’ve had highest-level status with several big hotel chains including Hilton (Diamond VIP), Hyatt (Globalist) and Marriott (Platinum Elite). Over the years I have taken a lot of great vacations for free by using points. Not only that, I have probably given away more frequent flyer and hotel points than most people accumulate in a lifetime. I say all of that to say this: When it comes to traveling, I am a PRO.

Now, having said that, let me tell you this… In December of 2019, I was working with a client in Dallas, TX. On December 14, 2019, I flew first class from Dallas back to San Francisco. It would be my last flight for the next 20 months. I was home for the holidays and was happily working remotely in January and February of 2020. Then the pandemic hit and everything shut down. So, for 20 months, I was grounded.

To be honest, I didn’t miss the life of Ubers, airports, airplanes, rental cars, hotels, per diems, expenses and the headaches that come with all of that. For 20 months I worked from home. I actually never left the state of California. I was content jumping in the car on weekends and traveling up or down the coast or finding some nearby mountain to explore.

Then, all of a sudden, travel resumed (for me). In the last three weeks (from Aug 12-Sept 3), I have flown on 18 planes!

And I found I’d forgotten almost everything I knew about traveling. I was a travel rookie once again.

On my first trip, I ordered an Uber to take me to the airport. I did not think to look at my phone again to check on my ride. For some reason, I thought I would get a call when the driver arrived. I happened to see him sitting outside. He told me he’d arrived 15 minutes before I came out. ROOKIE MISTAKE #1.

I arrived at the airport and jumped in a line. Then I noticed everyone already had boarding passes and tags for their bags. I thought, “Hmm… Where did they get those?” Then I remembered I needed to visit the kiosk to get a tag for my bag. So, I got out of line. ROOKIE MISTAKE #2.

On that same trip, I had a connection. ROOKIE MISTAKE #3. When I deplaned, I realized I had lost my paper boarding pass for the second flight. ROOKIE MISTAKE #4 & #5 (paper ticket and losing it).

After managing to get on board for the second flight, I realized there was another stop before I would finally get to my destination. How could that be? Well, as it turned out, there was some small print on my email confirmation that said I would be making another stop, but I would not be getting off the plane. So, apparently, I did not read carefully when I was booking my flight. ROOKIE MISTAKE #6.

All three of those flights were delayed. I got to my final destination after midnight. After all that nonsense, I had to retrieve my bag and find transportation to my hotel. There was severe weather, which meant no Ubers or taxis. I waited 40 minutes before a taxi van showed up. So, along with three strangers, I jumped in the van and made my way to the hotel.

During the next three weeks I had several similar experiences with delayed flights…struggles with ground transportation…fights with taxi drivers…and so on. In three weeks, I think I had enough headaches to cover the previous 20 months. I’m all caught up now and hoping to regain my Travel Pro status.

Here are a few more pro tips for those of you who have not traveled in a while:

  1. Update your credit card information stored in apps. For example, your card info in Uber will eventually expire, and it’s a pain to have to update it while you’re trying to go somewhere. ROOKIE MISTAKE #7.
  2. Speaking of, the Uber app has changed. So, take a look at it before you need to use it. ROOKIE MISTAKE #8.
  3. Be sure to pack all those small things that make traveling a little easier, like ear buds or headphones. I forgot mine on the first trip. ROOKIE MISTAKE #9.
  4. Don’t let the delayed flights fool you. My flight on Friday, Sept 3 was scheduled for 5:55pm. As I was leaving the office, I notice the flight was delayed and wouldn’t be leaving until 8:37pm. With more than two and a half hours of extra time, I decided to go downtown instead of going to the airport. So, I found a nice restaurant and ordered dinner. After ordering my meal, I checked on my flight again. Instead of 8:37pm, it was now 6:37pm. I cancelled my order and walked outside to order an Uber to quickly get to the airport. Then I checked again and the flight was going at 6:01pm! So, it went from being a two and a half hour delay to only being a six minute delay and I was nowhere near the airport. Assuming the delay time would stick is ROOKIE MISTAKE #10.

I got there in time and I was the first to board the plane, so it all worked out. Until we pushed away from the gate and sat on the tarmac for an hour and a half. Oh well…

Safe travels to all!