[x] obama’ed

I’m on my way home to Philadelphia for the weekend. I’m going to a wedding tomorrow and I have a few other things I want to do on the east coast. As I type this, I’m sitting on a USAirways plane (yea I know, just wait…) using the inflight internet to post. Originally I was scheduled to fly on Continental through Houston. I usually prefer to fly on Continental or on some other airline on which I have elite status in order to get free upgrades to first class. I was scheduled to be in first on both my Vegas-Houston and Houston-Philly flights but that changed pretty quickly when I got to the airport this morning. This is a long blog about traveling so skip this if you don’t like these stories.

So anyway, I checked in smoothly, got to the gate (it was at the D gates, which means you have to take the monorail shuttle thing) and I was just standing around when I noticed an oddly painted 747 taking off around 10:25 AM local time. Then I remembered that Obama was at CityCenter last night (more coming on that later) and I put two and two together and realized that I’d just seen Air Force One take off. Pretty cool to see that. I’d love to somehow ride on it with the president someday but I doubt that’s possible so I’ll probably never realize that particular dream.

A few minutes after Obama took off the gate attendant got on the PA and announced our 11:15 AM flight was delayed until 1:30 PM. Uh oh. That didn’t leave me with much time to make my connection which was, formerly, a pretty leisurely 3 hour stopover in Houston. Since I had a few hours to kill, I walked down to the Continental Presidents Club (their airport lounge thing) and sat around for a bit. Then the flight got delayed until 2 PM which put my estimated arrival at 7:03 PM and my Philly flight was taking off at 7:05 PM. That probably wasn’t going to work out.

I was curious what was going on so I checked Continental’s website and found out that our plane was coming from Cleveland but it was diverted to Phoenix because they shut down Vegas area airspace for Obama. So the plane had to go land in Phoenix, sit there for awhile, then get back in the air and continue on to Vegas. Hence the multiple hour delay when there weren’t any weather issues.

I went to the front desk at the Presidents Club and asked about my options for moving my flight. I obviously knew that I wasn’t going to get upgraded again because by that point they had processed all of the OnePass Elite members into first class seats. But I was hoping to find an alternative route that would get me to Houston on time. Luckily enough there was a 12:45 PM flight to Houston which was scheduled to leave on time because the plane had come in after Obama had already cleared the airspace around McCarran. So the attendant put me on that flight and there was an aisle exit row seat so I was still fine. That was going to get me into Houston around 70 minutes before my connection so I was in good shape. I headed down to the gate, got on the plane on time and I had a ton of legroom (see pic) so I was okay with it. After all, I was still in first on the second flight and this seat wasn’t too bad (according to the Continental website, no one was sitting next to me).

Anyway, the entire plane boards and the flight attendant gets on the PA and says there is a mechanical problem which is going to delay the plane 15 minutes. Still not a big deal. 15 minutes comes and goes and I’m starting to wonder about my connection. They pulled everyone on international connections off of the plane and a few minutes later they pulled everyone with connections off of the plane. At this point I knew I wasn’t going to be on that plane because it was like 1:30 and with the whole plane getting off, there was no way to get to Houston in time. The gate was obviously a madhouse with tons of people crowding the desk hoping to get their connection fixed. This was despite repeated announcements that they were going down a list of connections and that they would call people city by city as they worked their way through the list. A few minutes later they called Philadelphia and I tried to make my way through the crowd. When I got to the front some guy was like “hey man there’s a line here!” to which the gate attendant said something like “no there isn’t sir, you should be sitting down unless you’re going to Philadelphia”. Shot down. So she put me on a USAirways flight to Philadelphia and she was like “okay go to the C gates and show them this slip” (I was at D). I didn’t know any better so I was just like, okay, and ran off. I didn’t have much time until the flight and I didn’t have a seat yet.

So I took the monorail back and went out of the secure area. I walked to the C security area and the guy told me I was in the wrong area, USAirways uses mainly A and B gates. So then I walked over to the A/B security area and they told me that the slip the Continental lady had given me wasn’t good enough to get past security. So then I went back to the ticketing area and got put in a middle seat. I was going to skip the trip if I needed to fly across the country in the middle in between two randoms. No interest in that whatsoever. So then I got my seat switched (after complaining) and they had an exit row aisle! I don’t know why they wouldn’t have just put me on that to being with because I’m Star Alliance gold and USAir is part of the Star Alliance. Anyway, armed with my actual boarding pass, I went through security and to the gate and finally got on a functioning/on-time plane to get to Philadelphia. So, yea, that’s today’s travel story. In the end, I’m actually getting in to Philly 1.5 hours earlier than I would have with my original schedule so I guess I kind of ran good in this spot despite a bunch of hassle.

Getting back to Vegas stuff, I went out to CityCenter for the first time last night. Obama was there too but I never noticed anything except seeing people walk around with Harry Reid t-shirts. The place is so big, the president can be there and you would never notice the difference. I’d never had much interest in going but a bunch of people were going to dinner at Jean George at Aria so I decide to go along. Sub was there with his family, Kyle Ray, Richard Brodie and his girlfriend Diane, Crazy Mike (MrGatorade on 2p2), etc. I like sub’s family and I knew I was going out of town for the weekend so I was going to dinner pretty much regardless of the restaurant. Steakhouses aren’t my thing but I survived by getting the salmon (not that great imo) with black truffle mashed potatoes (amazingly good, I love truffles). The company was great though so I enjoyed the meal a lot. Obviously sub lost the CCR flip although I bought out because I didn’t drink and I don’t flip unless I’m relatively close to be neutral EV. After that I went over to the Palms and talked for awhile with snowbank (the guy who runs bluefirepoker) and his friend pbjaxx. Both are cool guys so it was nice to meet them.

And now I’m on the plane, going to watch some TV now. Have a nice weekend everyone.

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