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Air Travel Sucks!

If – today – you wanted to create air travel, you would never in a million years have come up with the torture that is air travel today. I am today in Xalapa, and traveling from the Bay Area to Xalapa on Continental Airlines (via Houston) is by far the worst experience I ever had.

First they gave us a 25 minute connection in the Houston Airport. 25 minutes is hard even for a seasoned business traveler. For a mom and dad with two babies, it´s simply torture.

It wouldn´t have been so bad if normal circumstances applied, but when we got to the train in the Houston Airport, one of them was broken. After sitting down on the train for 5 minutes (and having a lady tell us to move to the other cart because this one was too heavy) they realized the only other one was broken too. Great. Now it´s T-10 and we have to walk it. But wait, they tell us, there´s another train. You just get out to the elevators next to the exit to the airport. So we did. Mom, Daddy and babies running with bags and baby seat all the way out…

Oops! Wrong move! Now we took a very crowded tram, and we´re finally on the right side of the airport… But now you have to go through security again! While we´re on security we keep hearing our names being called. Great. By the way, don´t ask for help at George Bush International in Houston. You won´t get it. Don´t ask for a break either (these TSA folks, by the way, know we are coming from a connection and we are running OUT of the secure area to get back INTO the secure area, and it couldn´t have been more than 4 minutes):

- Are you carrying a video camera?
- Yes, here it is, along with the laptop (boy did I just say the wrong
   thing, but I am trying to cooperate so we can go
   through this very fast).
- Pull them out please, and the laptop must be on its own tray (while
   my 2-year old is wigglying trying to run away).
- Great.
- And the video camera has to be taken out.
- And take out your shoes.
- (Someone else) No, they don´t need to take off their shoes
   (our shoes are already off. Thanks).

Thanks, TSA something-or-others, thanks a lot.

We run, and run (shoes off even). I find a person with a Continental wheelchair, I think – maybe she´ll be able to call the gate. Do you work for continental? No, comes the response. Thanks. The continental logo on her shirt and on the wheelchair, but I guess I can´t interrupt the break she seems to be having as she´s sitting down talking to her buddy.

We finally made it. Then at the Mexico Aduanas, I had to fill in extra forms. They told us one per family, but I guess that´s just the customs form, the immigration is one per person. I guess I should have remembered, but it´s late and it´s been a long day. So while I fill in the other forms everybody goes by. We´re last to Baggage claim.

And by the way, Continental lost my bag. With my two year old´s oversized Diapers, the kind you can´t get in this country because they don´t make babies that big here (my kid is off the charts on height). And all of Daddy´s clothes. As a “thank you for traveling and letting us lose your bag” I get a little thing of toiletries and three local phone numbers, none of which have a person (or even an automated answering machine) on the other side. I guess you can get as many phone numbers as you want if you´re not going to answer them anyway, huh Continental Veracruz?

I just checked online and it says it´s still under investigation. The guy yesterday assured me (I don´t want to think it was just to get me out of his hair, but my experience yesterday made me a cynic, and we were the last customers before the shift closed for the night) that I would get by bag tonight. Not according to the internet, and I can´t seem to call anybody to confirm either way. I didn´t get the “authorization” needed to buy clothes for my own (which my airline “representative” conveniently failed to mention and I just read on the claim form), but by now, screw that, my underwear is getting itchy.

At least the town is great once you get here. I love Xalapa itself, it´s getting here that´s a complete nightmare. But I guess all air travel is like that nowadays.

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  1. Gabriel

    Why would you accept 25 mintues connection window for an international flight during the holiday crunch? I repeatly ask the airlines to book other options for connections.

    Also… if you can afford to fly to Mexico for the holiday with your family, you can afford to buy new clothes.

  2. Hackerdude

    You’re right, not doing that again. Still looking at the different options to get to Xalapa.

    As for the last comment, we are obviously talking about two different countries. You’re probably thinking of the Mexico that has Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, and where they fleece tourists left and right. Good luck going to that Mexico.

    The Mexico I’m visiting with my kids is the one where you pay $20 for dinner for five at the market after spending the morning in a kids’ museum, and your 2 year old has a blast playing with local kids at the park, and learns to say “Gracias”. In the afternoon you can go to the local downtown to blow bubbles to him and have your kid and other 5 nearby kids have a blast with the soap bubbles and baloons and colors.

    We’re having a blast in Real Mexico, thank you very much. 🙂 Places like Cancun have more in common with Hawaii than Mexico.

    I did get some clothes, and eventually I did get my bag back. That’s another story, which I’ll be sure to mention Continental Customer Service.

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