Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Adventures in Baggage Claim

Just arrived at the home of friends in Delray Beach. I flew in from Atlanta. Making the drive from Greenville to Atlanta to catch a flight is always a roll of the dice. I left my house at for a flight. I dealt with fog through South Carolina and rain in Georgia. No accidents, though, so I lucked out in that regard.

At the traffic into Atlanta was bumper to bumper and moving at about 35 miles per hour. How in the world do people deal with this nonsense day after day? Although it may be a couple of miles shorter to take I-85 all the way to the airport, I take I-285 South. Traffic is always clipping right along on 285.

Even with the weather and heavy traffic, I arrived at the airport about two hours before my flight. I am in South Florida for a few days, so I had to schlep my bigger suitcase. That meant checking it. When flying in and out of Atlanta, I park at Park and Fly Plus because I usually swap out cars on these trips. I drop the car off at valet parking, get on the shuttle to the terminal and fly out. On my return, I take the shuttle back, there's a new car waiting for me, and I drive back to South Carolina. I love being me.

Park and Fly Plus also has a Delta baggage check-in station where you can get your boarding pass and check a bag. I rolled my bag in there at for a flight. I checked in and tipped the counter agent $3. I know that he isn't going to send his kid to college on $3; but it's not bad for sticking a tag on a bag and placing it on a conveyor belt, particularly when he's already getting paid to do just that.

Hopping on the shuttle, I headed to the terminal blissfully ignorant that my bag was already down the "gone" hole.

One reason I like flying to FL in the middle of the week is, I can usually get upgraded to First Class. This is virtually impossible on Mondays, Fridays or weekends. I got to stretch out and enjoy the flight; turbulent as it was.

My flight arrived on time. I headed to baggage claim full of optimism. I had not one, but two messages on my voicemail from the vendor in FL that I usually request a car from that my ride was parked in Premier Parking and ready to go. Palm Beach International has one of the slowest baggage systems in the civilized world. It's a small airport and bags never get the 50 yards from the plane to baggage claim in under 20 to 25 minutes.

As I stood there with a silly grin on my face, I watched bag after bag appear and get claimed. As the crowd around the conveyor dwindled, and fewer and fewer bags were making the conveyor-belt journey from the back room, around Baggage Claim 1 and back into the back room, I began to worry. No amount of humming, foot tapping or crouching down to try to peek through the opening from whence the bags come, had any impact. My bag was M.I.A.

Six or seven other passengers were in the same boat. I managed to be the first into Delta's baggage claim office. The claim's manager or clerk or whatever title he has, immediately located my bag and told me it was on the next flight from Atlanta and scheduled to arrive at 12:30. By this point, was about 45 minutes away. He asked if I wanted to wait for it (for which he would gladly give me a $6 voucher for lunch in the airport) or have it delivered. Because I had no clue what the address of my friends' home is, I opted to wait and collect the $6 voucher. Three attempts to print out the voucher failed and I was informed the printer wasn't working and I would have to live without the highly anticipated $6 lunch.

What should have been 45 minutes turned into 90. Meanwhile the clock was ticking in Premier Parking at the rate of $2 every half hour. My bag did arrive…eventually.

Let's do the math: $3 tip and $6 extra in parking equals more money than it should cost to have Delta mishandle my bag.

Typically I pack light and carry a small bag on the plane. This is a habit I shall continue.

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