Most college towns have great little coffee shops — and Madison, Wisc. is no exception. Here was Derek’s morning wake-up in a cup — a blackforest mocha — from a certified coffee growers cafe.
I don’t get claustrophobic on airplanes. I don’t mind waiting in airport gates. And I actually like the food they serve — that you now pay for — on board.
But after this weekend in Las Vegas, I officially loathe flying.
Here’s what went wrong:
1. The flight from Honolulu to Las Vegas via Los Angeles was booked. So airlines agents were checking check-in bags at the gate and deciding whether they were too big to fit on board. (This should have been done earlier, say, at check-in.)
2. I was asked to switch seats twice. I wound up getting a worse seat than I already had. Good thing the women on both sides of me were pleasant company.
3. The flight crew on our flight on Continental Airlines were completely hateful. They didn’t smile, they snapped at passengers, one rolled the cart into people’s feet and yelled at them. I thought I was getting punk’d.
4. Our plane had to turn around due to mechanical problems involving something the word “auxiliary.” We spent three hours in the air — and returned back to Honolulu. Our flight didn’t leave for another hour. In all, it took us 11 hours to get to Los Angeles.
5. When we got to LAX, the Continental crew didn’t have any information for us regarding the connecting flights we missed. They directed us to the airlines of our connecting flights to figure it out. (I felt badly for a couple heading home to Europe after their honeymoon in Hawaii.) We waited another hour to find out what flight we had been rebooked on — only to find out all four of us had been rebooked on different flights, including one departing the next day.
6. Amazingly, even though the booking agent said ALL OF THE FLIGHTS WERE FULL — repeatedly — we got seats on the 4:10 p.m. flight out of LA to Vegas. All in a row. All in the bulkhead aisle. And when we were on board, the flight attendant said there were 12 more open seats. Full, huh?
7. Though the airlines inconvenienced us and, in most cases, made us wait at the airport for hours, we were not compensated at all. In fact, the airlines kept saying, “It’s not our responsibility.” It was driving me crazy. We didn’t even get food vouchers for airport grub.
8. While checking in online for my return flight on United Airlines, I found that I was now rebooked — without my knowledge — on a later flight to LA. I would miss my connecting flight, too, which would bring me home more than four hours after my scheduled arrival. I spent another hour or so yelling at United Airlines customer service reps — including a supervisor — about getting on the plane, on the flight, and in the seat I had booked (and paid for) on July 1. How was I kicked off the plane and rebooked on a later flight? I had reserved a seat two months ago. It was ludicrous.
9. After being told for 45 minutes that there was ABSOLUTELY NO SPACE ON THE FLIGHT, it had been oversold, there was NO WAY I would get on it — I miraculously got back on the supposedly sold-out flight, though in a different seat, and was able to get home on time.
10. Our other friend wasn’t so lucky. I dropped her off at the airport at 4:45 a.m. for her 6 a.m. flight to Honolulu via San Francisco, which got postponed to almost noon. She didn’t get home until later Sunday night when she was supposed to arrive in Honolulu before lunchtime.
It’s hard to believe all this happened during one vacation — but it did.
The sad part is that I’ve lost faith in airlines. Not only are their planes unsafe — both times, the delays were caused by mechanical problems — but the customer service reps flat-out lie to you. How could a flight be completely sold out — but then I get a seat? It just doesn’t make sense.
How can you trust a company that’s 1) unsafe and 2) lies? You can’t.
Anyone got a travel horror story to share?
Eat and shop.
So on Saturday — our last day in Vegas — we decided to do both.
We had lists of recommendations of restaurants to try, from Otto Enoteca Pizzeria at the Venetian to (winner of my favorite restaurant name) Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesar’s Palace. We wanted to try them all — trust us, if we could’ve, we would’ve — but we settled on the ones that 1) had reservations when we were hungry and 2) didn’t require us to wear anything nice.
So after a gourmet lunch at Todd English’s Olives at the Bellagio, we crossed off another thing on our list: shopping at the Las Vegas Premium Outlets North, easily one of the best outlet malls in the area.
And, of course, we ended the day with food, this time at the Wicked Spoon Buffet at the new Cosmopolitan.
I’m still not hungry.
Here’s what our final day looked like:
Todd English's Olives
We had a late start to Saturday, so our first meal was really lunch. We made reservations — per our friend's boss, Alex — at Todd English's Olives in the luxurious Bellagio. This restaurant features Mediterranean-style cuisine and specializes in house-made pastas, steaks, rotisserie dishes and brick-oven flatbreads. It's also got an extensive wine list.
It had been quite an ordeal getting here — and we were planning on making every moment count.
On the agenda today? A tour of the Hoover Dam, stops at In-N-Out Burger and Trader Joe’s, dinner somewhere, the JABBAWOCKEEZ show at the Monte Carle — which, by the way, started off slow but ended with us on our feet — and a visit to a nightclub that wouldn’t charge us a cover.
We did all that — and more. Except we wound up paying a cover charge. Well, we’re not 24 anymore!
Here’s what our second day — the first full one — in Vegas looked like: