Tag Archives: Denver

Another rant about our awe-inspiring TSA agents. Hope I don’t get arrested for it…

20 May

I’m pretty confident in my midsection, but in front of 100 people in the security line at DIA at 6:30am?! C’mon.  I’d rather be flashing it on the beaches in Miami.

I recently got molested by a vertically challenged, tsa agent with daddy issues in a uniform 2 sizes too small who’s sexuality is questionable.  I’m not sure who should have been on the receiving end of a cash exchange for “services” , but I can say its been a minute since I’ve been felt up like that.

Last time was when I was in Germany pre-9/11 and being touched that much by a frauline was something new for me and would have been new for most Americans at that time!  Today we eagerly jump into clicking full body X-ray machines and then get groped more than high schoolers in the back of the bus on a field trip when the teacher wasn’t looking.

TSA, especially through Denver, is nothing more than grown up kids with fake badges, inferiority complexes and false senses of power. Those are ingredients for an “I’ll show you who’s boss now” situation.  I recently heard a comedian say that TSA is one of the only places he felt he could just walk in and be the manager.  The level of intelligence and competence of these people is ridiculous.

But be careful!!  If you are too outspoken or if you grope back, you’re in trouble!!  According to this site that talks about the mistreatment of the TSA agents, they are now considering outspokenness about contempt for the agents or the system to be an act of terrorism.  There’s even a story of a Colorado woman who grabbed and twisted, with both hands, the left breast of a TSA agent when she got frustrated with the security groping protocol.  Unfortunately this woman is facing a felony count of sexual harassment.  She’s 61 years old!  That would have been quite the scene to witness.

I wish I had some answers on how to deal with the  frustration I feel when I pass through the airport security line.  I get that security is necessary because bad people do exist…thanks terrorists!  And another special thanks to the underwear bomber in 2009 who was the one who prompted the full body x-ray machines to be installed in all US airports.  Awesome.  I do know that I refuse that machine at all costs; is that the only choice I still have?

Life really is a trip when the acts of a few completely damage the liberties of the rest!

Em

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Guat do you mean I don’t have a ticket? Stuck in Guatemala City (Part 2)

4 Oct

Sorry to leave you hanging so long in Guatemala City!

Where were we? Oh ya, explosions in the street had stopped and I was able to get some sleep! Whew!

After a nice hot shower early in the morning before check out my first challenge of the day was the checkout! The night desk person who had agreed to allow me to put the cab fare on the room the night before and allowed me to pay with only a credit card number and not the actual card itself was unfortunately not the same person in the morning and didn’t leave a memo either. The disgruntled morning guy had his panties all in a bunch because he didn’t know what was going on and he definitely did not like the cc# only idea.

I wasn’t too worried about this part because I knew they would get paid. Duh. And besides…what was he going to do? I already spent the night and ate the food.

After some more complaining he finally called the shuttle around to deliver me back to the airport. Why we didn’t just use the shuttle to bring me to the hotel in the first place? – No clue.

Ok, first challenge mastered.

Next challenge: Get my Mexicana airline ticket that my mom purchased – confirmed seat – the night before. Naturally I would pick up my airline ticket at the airport ticket counter, right? Wrong. I went right to the ticket counter, gave her my confirmation number and do you remember the scene in the movie where the agent is typing for-ever seemingly searching for the info?? Ya, that was my agent and when she finally came up for air she said, “No, ju nee to go to city office”.

That’s when the waterworks started for me. I had made it about 18 hours dealing with problem after problem and I finally have a seat on a plane home and she is telling me that I can’t get it at the airport, I have to go back into the city to the office there to get my stupid ticket!!!!??? This is ridiculous!!!

I went over to the United Airlines counter and between sobs managed to get out what my situation was. There were two younger gentlemen working at the counter who were very nice. The first one I met was taller. He was trying to calm me down and asked me if I knew the city well and said that I could take his car to the Mexicana office. What a great gesture, but I didn’t know the city well enough. He looked down and typed what seemed like a few words on his keyboard and then I heard his printer start printing! He handed my Mexicana ticket! Thank God.

I remember sitting in their back office for a little while. By then they knew my whole story of getting stuck, traveling on employee passes, my wallet getting stolen, and Western Union being out of service. At this point too, I was rationing a small package of coconut cookies I had from Costa Rica. The second agent, the shorter one, noticed that I wasn’t eating anything and he walked me down to the sandwich kiosk and told me to order anything I wanted, then told the worker to put it on his tab. This was amazing!! I was so hungry. I got an avocado and cheese panini and I can still remember every detail about it to this day. I was sitting with my backpack near my feet, reading and I had only eaten half of the sandwich. I carefully wrapped the other half in a napkin and set it on top of my pack. I wasn’t sure when I was going to eat again so I wanted to save it. The United agent noticed what I was doing and firmly said, “No, you eat that one and order another one!!”. I wasn’t going to argue with that so I graciously ordered another.

The terminal I knew too well after 24 hours...

5pm finally came around and it was time to board my flight to Los Angeles. I headed toward the gates and then ran into a mini situation: airport tax. Mostly all foreign airports make you pay an exit tariff, however with my current, money-less situation this was a problem. Yes, I played the “dumb girl” card – I had to. Playing a little dumb paid off, the tariff taker guy assumed that I had arrived so late last night that it was actually the same day and I told him I was in transit. It worked!

I was finally off to L.A.

The journey wasn’t quite over though. My flight got into L.A. too late to make a connection so we had to do another hotel near the airport and then I was heading to Denver the next morning. This went swimmingly well. One little thing was that there was an amazing looking basket of fruit and snacks sitting on the table in the room and I wanted so badly to eat it, but I knew how much money my mom had spent on tickets, hotels and collect phone calls that I didn’t want to add any more costs to the bill.

I found out after not touching the basket and getting home that it was actually paid for and I was supposed to eat it. Bummer.

Home at last.

Wanna get away? How about Frankfurt for a day??

22 Jul

Have you ever had one of those “Wanna get away?” moments? Well I have, and the last time it was a strong enough urge that I acted on it…in a pretty big way!

How about Frankfurt for less than a day and then back home? Well, that’s what it took to make me feel better. I tasted new food, smiled at new people and, most importantly, I breathed new air.

OK, so I am a “stand-by” girl. The jig is up, that’s my secret. My mother taught aircraft systems for United Airlines for years and I still have travel benefits from her. YES!

So, you can imagine, it’s fairly easy for me to hop on a flight and jet off somewhere…loads permitting. Stand-by can be a complete nightmare or it can be a dream when everything goes smoothly. In this particular situation I was quite antsy to get outta town, and luckily this trip was more on the dreamy side of the spectrum.

Now, some background information on my family…

We are an aviation family and between my mother and her 9 other siblings there are 7 pilots, 3 of whom were/are captains for United. Only one of my uncles still flies the line as a captain on, and check-airman for, the Boeing 747-400. His name is Chris.

I called Chris on a Tuesday in April and left a message that went something like this, “Hey Chris, um, I was wondering if you have any trips coming up soon (he typically has one per month), and if you do, do you think I could tag along?” His response to me was, “Yep, I’m doing a check-ride on Sunday for a 23 hour turn-around to Frankfurt, meet me in Chicago!”

OK!!!

So 5 days later I was on the plane heading to O’Hare from Denver. I met up with Chris and his first officer, Roman, on the C Concourse and found that our flight was delayed an hour and a half due to an aircraft change. It always amuses me when the passengers get all disgruntled about their flight being late for those kinds of reasons. My thoughts?? The airplane was BRO-KEN, aren’t you glad they figured it out while we were still in the terminal? Broken plane = delay … get over it. I swear, people anymore just want something to complain about!

Sorry – where was I? Oh ya, Concourse C…

C Concourse O'Hare

After finally boarding and settling into my economy seat we were on our way. Now, don’t go thinking I’m stuck up because I had to mention that it was an economy seat, it’s just that typically when traveling stand-by internationally there are more First and Business Class seats available. Just sayin’.

We arrived in the morning the next day, took the crew bus to the Marriott, dropped our bags off and headed to the train station for breakfast. Appropriately, our breakfast consisted of beer and brats… a hearty German start to the day!

From the left...Roman, me and Chris having the breakfast of German champions!

After a seemingly 20 minute nap back a the room, it was actually 2 hours, I met the guys in the hotel bar called Challengers. Their slogan was, “…for a real American experience”. Well, I didn’t come to Frankfurt on my “wanna get away” whim to have a real American experience so we slugged down our beers and went to this cute little restaurant called Pielok… for a real German experience.

The first thing we experienced though was the German smell leaking out of the place. Holy shit, what IS that?? I’m sure it was some kind of warm cheese plate, but it smelled like dirty, sour laundry! I’m not sure if it went away or if our nostrils just assimilated. I’m assuming it was the latter.

Yes, it was that bad!

I mean, don’t get me wrong, the Germans make some fantastic cheeses, its just that this one in particular seemed to offend our little American noses…. a lot.

Chris and I couldn't stop laughing about the pungent cheesy stench!

Unlike the smelly cheese trough, my dinner was to die for! This was comfort food at it’s best…. A burger patty – a real mouth watering burger – topped with 2 thick slices of salty, greasy bacon with sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of roasted potatoes! Delish. I was feeling better already!

Salty, greasy, meaty German goodness!

We all took a little stroll after dinner and noticed the small differences that definitely lent the foreign feeling I was craving. What a gift. The bicycles, the people, the little shops, the small streets, the flower boxes, the trains, the housing flats, the fresh food. It was perfect for my little getaway!

I present you...Frankfurt

Once back at the hotel, I was asleep by 10 and up by 6. After a more breakfasty breakfast of coffee and danish we were on our way back to the airport with the whole crew.

Airports and airplanes are sometimes my favorite parts of traveling. I think you really get a chance to see who people are when they have to pack a little, tiny piece of their lives and take it with them as they navigate the uncharted terminal territory… I find it very interesting.

After people watching for about an hour while sitting at our gate, I was escorted to the plane with the crew by one of the Lufthansa gate agents who was working our United flight. I loved it when another agent we passed by tried to stop me, because clearly I wasn’t in uniform, and tell me that I couldn’t go that way. Chris simply threw a quick head nod her way and said, “Uh, she’s with us.” HA! Royal treatment when you’re with the captain.

This time, as we returned to Chicago, the travel itch was out of my system. I was loving my lavish upper-deck business class seat, sipping my wine and enjoying the added pride that my uncle was flyin that bird. Thanks Chris for helping me get away.

What a trip!

Em