How to Miss Your Flight in Vegas

 A couple of weeks back I went to Vegas for a bachelor party. By the law of TV commercials, any amazing stories I have about that weekend can only be published in Vegas; however, I did manage to get an approved exception for stories about the flights to and from Sin City.

Air Canada Flight McCarran Airport Las Vegas

While all of my friends were flying Allegiant, I decided against flying out of Bellingham because I managed to find a flight on Expedia for about $150 more than what the other guys paid. I’ve mentioned here before that Allegiant has great prices on Bellingham to Vegas flights, but when travelling alone I’ll typically pony up the extra bucks to avoid the drive across the border before and after my flights.

Going to Vegas was relatively uneventful, save for the bars at LAX refusing to put the Vancouver Canucks vs San Jose Sharks playoff game on TV in favor of women’s softball. Really? I thought that a California team in the third round of the NHL playoffs would catch some attention, but no.

It was my flight home that would be more interesting. As the flight was a short hop to LAX before flying home to Vancouver later that night, I planned to get the the airport about 90 minutes early. I left the strip a little before 2:00pm. I should have known that Air Canada was unlikely to have a Vegas to LA flight but I didn’t think about it at all. After returning my rental car, I hopped on the shuttle bus to Terminal 2 for Air Canada.

There wasn’t much of a line at Air Canada. I waited for my turn and told them I was flying to LAX. Without looking up my flight details they told me that I was in the wrong terminal and pointed me back to the shuttles. Folks, whenever you fly make sure you know if you are flying on a partner operator. I felt silly for not noticing that my flight was operated by United. This was my first mistake. It was dumb, but I figured I still had plenty of time.

Upon arriving at Terminal 1, I noticed that the United area was very busy. They had canceled a flight to Chicago for mechanical reasons and the line-ups were long. I knew that I was going to be close to the 45 minute cut-off but hoped that I would get some leeway due to the crowds. After waiting for a turn at the self check-in machine, the screen told me that it could not find my flight. I looked over at the incredibly long ticketing line and decided to see if the baggage checkers could help me. They asked me where I was flying to and then told me that my flight was leaving in about 5 minutes.

Surely they must have been mistaken. I took out my itinerary so that I could prove that my flight was at 3:45! Oh oh. When I printed out the itin before leaving on my trip I had overlooked the flight time change. My flight was scheduled for 3:06pm.  Mistake #2 had entirely wiped out my safety margin. My heart sunk as I wondered what options I had and how much they would cost.

The baggage checkers directed me into that amazingly long ticketing line. Luckily the second leg of my flight leaving LAX wasn’t until 7:45pm. There must be loads of other flights between Las Vegas and Los Angeles on a Sunday afternoon so I was optimistic until 15 minutes later when I noticed that the same 3 people were still dealing with the same 3 ticket agents.

Time to call Air Canada. After 10 minutes of phone menus and holding they told me that Air Canada had a direct flight leaving at 9pm. If I walked back to Terminal 2 I could take advantage of a $75 same day change option for a 9pm direct flight to Vancouver. I didn’t really want to walk back to terminal 2 so, still confident that there would be many flights to LAX, I decided to wait out the 45 minute United line only to find out that every seat to LA was spoken for. Grrrr.

I made the long sweaty walk of shame through the desert back to Terminal 2 and after watching the far-too-much-typing-for-what-they-are-doing routine that we all know and love, I was told that there were no longer any economy seats on the 9pm flight. Ouch. Much more typing later, they tell me that it will cost me about $300 to upgrade to business class. I ponder it for awhile until they tell me that it would normally cost over $1000 for the ticket. Sold. Get me home.

Self Portrait at McCarran Airport Las Vegas

Above is a nice picture I took of myself while sitting at the gate for 5 hours.

At the end of the day I was able to rationalize the fact that I had simply paid for a nice upgrade, rather than admit that I had become so over-confident and lazy at flying that I made two very stupid mistakes. Through it all, I think that my being reasonable calm and polite helped to encourage the United and Air Canada ticketing staff to try their hardest to help me out. Thanks to all for that.

The moral of the story is that you should always check your tickets carefully and always get to the airport earlier than you think you should. If you’re travel geek like me you can use the extra time to take more pictures of airplanes

Virgin 747 McCarron Airport Las Vegas

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