Why, oh why, do I persist in flying through Houston?
Actually, it’s not the flying-through-Houston part that’s the problem; it’s the expecting to do so without incident part. I need to settle myself into the knowledge that every Sunday evening westward return comes with incident. The incidentless version is not on offer.
Yesterday’s variant was an oldie but a goodie: puddle-hopper out of Baton Rouge was delayed by 40 minutes; projected connection time in IAH was 51 minutes, including flying into one terminal and out of another after collecting the unavoidably gate-checked bag. What mostly annoyed me about yesterday’s version was the bald-faced lies from the gate agents in BR, who kept looking at people’s tickets and saying “oh, your connection’s at 9.10; you’re not going to have any problem.” They waved everyone off, and it was painfully evident that they did so just to keep us quiet and get us on the plane when it showed up, so that we could be Houston’s problem instead of theirs.
I, however, have smartified since the last rendition of this little dance. Once I got waved off by the gate agent (“8.58? Oh, you’ll make that with no problem”), I got on the phone and called Continental. Yes, while standing in the gate area. The rep I got on the phone pulled up my flights and told me, first off, what our projected departure time from BR was (which the gate agents refused to say), and that I was going to be left with 15 minutes to navigate Houston. And then proceeded to hold a seat for me on a flight today, saying “at the moment, it doesn’t look like you’re going to make it, and I want you taken care of, in case.”
The other bit of good news is that I didn’t need that seat. Had my flight out of Houston been on time, I’d still be there, cooling my heels and eating all the airport food an $8 airline voucher can buy; instead, because that flight was delayed as well, I got to my second gate right at the end of boarding, slipped into my seat, and got home a mere half-hour late. Had I just gotten into the zen of travel at the outset — acknowledging my powerlessness in the situation; recognizing that eventually, you always make it home — I could even have spared myself the stress.
There’s no zen for today, however — the day after return, when the payment is due for a fabulous weekend away. Frantic attempts at catching up begin imminently.