Friday, December 14, 2007

Vegas Report Part 1: What Do You Mean You Can't Give Us Our Tickets?

Ah, Vegas. Vegas, Vegas, Vegas. As my dad said via email, I'm lucky to be able to travel to the city of hedonistic pleasures so easily. The semi-regular trips to Sin City are definitely one of my personal highlights from living in the US of A.

Travelling from DC I get to choose to fly out from one of three airlines: DCA (aka Reagan aka National), BWI, and Dulles. DCA is insanely close, while the other two are more annoying to get to, BWI in particular. With this in mind I managed to snag some nice flights from DCA connecting through Chicago. Done and done.

Except that I was contacted by Expedia a little later to tell me: "Whups! ATA no longer flies that leg, so now you are on Southwest. Someone will contact you soon to sort that out." Uh, OK. As long as I still get to go, right? A couple of days later I was contacted by a Southwest person, we hashed out potential flights, and the best were flying out of BWI. Oh well, not as handy as DCA, but at least they were direct.

A week or so later I realised I hadn't received an email confirmation and itinerary from Southwest. No worries, I'll give them a call. Which lead to the following type conversation:

"Yes, Garthmeister J., your booking is in the system and good to go."

"Great. Can you send me my itinerary etc. by email?"

"Sure!" "Oh, I can't do that."

"Huh? Why?"

"You'll have to get your tickets from BWI. Either go beforehand..."

"That'll suck."

"Or just get to the airport that day a little earlier and do it then."

OK, weird, whatever. I'll do that. On the Thursday in question Saunter picked me and my bags up from my work, and we set off for BWI. We got there nice and early, which was cool. My plan was to get our tickets and check-in, go through security, find our gate, and then have a couple of beers and some food. Simple and solid.

The non-e-ticket line was pretty small, nice, so we slid on through and spoke with Shanita, our Southwest ticketer-person-whatever. We had about 80 minutes to go before the flight, so I was pretty chilled out. That feeling lasted right up until Shanita informed us that she couldn't give us our tickets. Apparently our flights were booked, but not paid for. I explained the airline switcharoo, and Shanita told me that Expedia just hadn't transferred the money to Southwest, so I should get on the phone with them and sort it out.

Great. Thankfully I had brought along my old itinerary, which included Expedia's phone number (1-800-EXPEDIA, those cunning bastards). I pulled out my cell phone, sighed a little bit, and gave them a call. After navigating the wonder which is automated phone messaging, I finally got a real person on the line. It took a little bit of explaining to get to the point, but finally the agent understood what I was talking about. So she put me on hold for "a few minutes". Which turned into about half an hour. And then she tried something else. And then she finally asked to speak to Shanita(?!).

And then suddenly we had tickets.

I have no idea what went down there, but frankly I didn't care. As the waiting on hold went on interminably the thought had definitely occurred to me to just tell Shanita to put the outstanding money on my card, and I would sort it out later. But whatever, we had tickets, we were off. No time for food or beers though. But hey! Vegas!

The flight to Vegas wasn't too bad. I had intended on picking up a new book to read at the airport (I am allowed to buy myself books if I am travelling), but no dice. Instead I started plowing through the puzzles contained in the airline magazine, chortling to myself as I saw the poor sap across the aisle on my left struggling with the same sudoku I had just crushed.

Finally, finally, we touched down, screamed through the cab line, and made it to the IP.

The winner for "first blogger I ran into" was F-Train, who arrived just after Saunter and myself. We exchanged pleasantries and back-handed compliments while we waited to be checked into the hotel. As per my previous encounter, it was a little strange.

IP dude: "Ah yes, Mr Elliott. 5 people in your room, correct?"

Me: "Uh, what?"

IP dude: "5. 5 people."

Me : "No man, just two."

IP dude: "Oh. OK."

Me : "Fuck. I should have said 'sure'."

Finally we got a key to our room, and left the desk. That naturally took us past the Geisha Bar, where we were waylaid by Betty Underground, GCox, Gracie, Pablo, Iggy, Pauly, and many many others. I waved and helloed and introduced Saunter, before saying that we were going to run up to our room and grab a shower before coming back down.

I was a little worried about actually getting into the room. Last year I actually had to get a locksmith in to deal with things. Bad times. Fortunately no such problems, and we're in like Flynn! I start throwing things about (as is my wont), and Saunter jumps into the shower. Upon which I hear this:

Saunter: "Aiee!"

Me: "What? What's the matter?"

Saunter: "The bath is filling up as well!"

Ah yes, the Imperial Palace. I told Saunter that the IP had installed "shaths" or "bowers" to enable the true "bath-shower" experience, and that I had paid top price for a room that had it. She told me I was full of shit. She knows me pretty well.

After a delightful shath we headed back downstairs. I grabbed a Corona, Saunter had a (never before encountered by me) "Red Bull and Whiskey" (I call it a "Saunter Left Hook"), and I got to chatting. Iggy immediately whistled me up a Soco that was as big as my head, and I made it a point of pride to knock it back in one gulp.

After chatting for a while I started to get itchy to check out the floor. Bloggers abounded at the various tables, including BuddyDank, Instant Tragedy, Otis... bloggers everywhere. I finally jumped on a table, allowing me to stop purchasing drinks (or in this case: having other people purchase them for me). Eventually Saunter announced she needed to crash, and headed up to the room. I continued on, before deciding that it was time for some Craps Action.

Flanked by Betty and Maigrey, I approached the craps table with confidence. A while later I staggered from the table, drunk, and with my dreams crushed by the dice. The kicks to the junk were mighty, and the punches to the liver were furious (aided and abetted by my non-consumption of food since lunchtime). I decided that discretion was the better part of valour, and that -EV games and I would battle another day. But for now: unconsciousness.

Coming Up: Tilting Dutch Boyd, and Busting with Uncle Bracelet.

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