At about 5:30 AM I rolled my large, green suitcase from 6th Avenue and Granville to the top of the hill, at Broadway. I huffed and puffed a little, but it wasn’t too bad. The ‘QuickShuttle’ from Vancouver to Seattle Airport arrived a few minutes late at 6:10, but the small group of us (mostly students and a few tourists) got on quickly. After stops at 41st Street, YVR, and a Convenience Store and Gift Shop near the border, we arrived at the Canadian/US border at around 7:45. It took us about 45 minutes to get processed, our bags X‑rayed and the usual questions and customs forms. We made it down to Seattle (downtown first near the Space Needle, airport second) in plenty of time for me to check my luggage, get on the snaking security line, and grab a bite of lunch.
The first cultural shocks came: That horrible woman’s voice on the public address system that’s now apparently in airports coast to coast: Thenk you for making shore yore beggidge is not left unattinded. Unattinded beggidge will be removed by airport stayaff. Then, I started noticing all of the fat people. A large group waiting for the plane pulling in before mine were a great deal of overweight folks bound for Hattiesburg, Mississippi, all with identical brown T‑shirts that read ‘Builders for Christ’ (I found out later that these were masons, electricians, plumbers, etc. who build churches and other religious buildings for free).
After we boarded, I learned that I had the seats right by the front entrance. This is a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it’s the first seat on (for general boarding, not First Class, of course) and one of the first off. The curse is that every person coming in the plane goes by it, so forget about sitting in it during the boarding of the plane. I stood with the flight attendants as they said hello to the passengers. That front row was also where several soldiers (Marines and Navy, to be precise) sat as they were heading home from being stationed in Japan (after a tour or two of Iraq).
The flight got into Saint Louis, my connection, a little late. Fortunately, my connecting flight was in the next gate. I walked off the plane, and literally walked over 20 feet to the gate of the other flight as that was the moment they called for boarding of all seats. Just before I walked out onto the tarmac (it was a small plane), I said to the the woman at the gate: “I’m a little concerned, since my connecting flight is so late that my bag won’t make it”. “Your bag will make it”, she said confidently.
The flight to Baltimore from Saint Louis was short, which was fortunate, because it was in a very small jet, with a ceiling so low that I couldn’t fully stand up. When I arrived in Baltimore, my parents were there waiting for me. After we went to baggage claim, we soon learned that what I had feared was true. My bag had indeed missed the connection. The woman in Saint Louis had looked me in the face and lied (or just said something that was ridiculous to patronize a passenger). I really would have appreciated some candor, but that’s not the way they do business at American Airlines.
The bag just arrived. 12:24 AM, technically, 2 days later.
I don’t want to be a worry-wart, but what really concerns me now is that my connection back to Seattle is even tighter, and if my bag doesn’t make it there, I would have to take the bus back to Vancouver without it. Or perhaps, stay with my brother in Bellevue and reschedule the trip back until I can get the bag. Such is air travel in the good old US of A.