Day 15 (October 9, 2015 – Los Angeles, California): “Heavy Lifting”
It was 4am when we awoke to our alarms. We wanted to get the early start because we knew that there was some final packing to wrap up on before checking out of the hotel, then we still had to catch the blue line to O’Hare before dealing with the usual airport activities of getting boarding passes as well as getting through security.
And despite the early start, Tahia even brought herself to get up as she was really looking forward to going home. She was clearly homesick by this part of the trip, and she was eager to see grandma again.
By 5:05am, we were done checking out of the hotel as it had served us well for the last three nights, and then we lugged our stuff to the Monroe Station. We refused the taxi offer since we were quite comfortable with taking mass transit at this point, and we had already paid for our relatively cheap three-day CTA pass.
The thing that I was anxious about was having to lug our luggages down several flights of stairs since we were quite aware that the Monroe Station didn’t have elevators or escalators going down. Plus, the nearby Jackson Station elevators were said to be down.
Still, I managed to get down the steps no problem, and then we had to get through the second test – seeing if our CTA passes still worked. They did, so for certain, our 3-day pass purchase was well worth it.
After going down another long flight of steps with the luggage, we then boarded the next blue line train to O’Hare which came in less than five minutes (pretty fast for a change).
And we’d take the blue line train for the next 18 stops to the O’Hare Airport, where it was still dark outside. Once we got to the airport at Terminal 2, we then made our way past a busker to Terminal 3, where we were quite alarmed at how many people were already in the terminal.
At first, we saw giant queues that we thought were for international departures. But after cutting through so we could check in a bag and get our boarding passes printed out, we then realized that these giant queues were really for the TSA security line!
This line was pretty much all chaos as apparently, all of the possible entrances to the concourses for G,H,J,K gates had big lines and they were pretty much touching each other. The line we ended up on was actually snaking before it even got to the controlled snaking section. There was a poor guy in front of us who was worried he was going to miss his 6:45am flight, and he got no sympathy from the American Airlines workers here as she told him, “Hun, you’re supposed to be here 3 hours before your departure.”
It was 6:05am when we first got into the back of the security line. We saw the sea of humanity before us, and we could also see a lot of confused looks on peoples’ faces from passer-bys to those in line wondering where the line started or even continued. Clearly, the attention to line management was lacking here.
When we got to a part of the line where it appeared that people either continued forward or followed the very long S formation, we opted to go for the S formation thinking that those who went forward were unknowingly hitting a bottleneck. With the way the line management was going, I wasn’t going to take that chance even though Julie questioned me why I didn’t follow those people. That guy that was in front of us actually did follow that informal line so I guess he was taking his chances. I guess he really had nothing to lose and it was worth the try if doing it the way you’re supposed to do it would mean he’d miss his flight anyways.
And after all the chaos and confusion, we still stuck to our line though we frequently peered back to see how that other line was doing. At one point, I started to see a stream of people from there continuing on the S like they were supposed to from the outset. And that poor guy in front of us was now way behind us. So I guess we did make the right decision after all.
At 6:55am, we had finally gotten through security. I guess it looked a lot worse than it turned out to be as we were through in about 50 minutes. It was still something that we didn’t see all that often (and certainly not as disorganized as what we saw this morning), but now we still had nearly 90 minutes before boarding time (at 8:15am) so we took our time looking to get some decent breakfast.
Julie made the mistake of spending too much at this bagel place, where the quality was not very good. However, as we got further into the concourse at 7:30am, Julie then found and Yelped this place called Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless, where there were really positive reviews, and we went ahead and bought this food even though we had enough for brekkie from that subpar bagel place.
It turned out that the chorizo sandwich we got was very good. I really wished we could’ve bought another sandwich of a different flavor in lieu of the bagels. But in any case, we were satisfied with our food, and then by 7:55am, we had finally made it to our gate at H18. And about 30 minutes later at 8:25am, we were finally on the plane. Even though American Airlines didn’t do priority boarding (not good for families), we still had no issue in terms of us sitting together and letting the staff hand-check my carry-on luggage since we still to check in Julie’s larger luggage anyways so there was no time savings in not doing this.
When we were on the plane, the first thing that Tahia noticed was that there was no personal screen. She asked, “Where’s the TV?”, as she was obviously used to the Delta Airlines experience. I guess the takeaway from this flying experience was that perhaps we should accrue more Delta SkyMiles and try not to be too dependent on American Miles. When it comes to these things, it’s hard to stay loyal to a carrier, but for sure we’re not real fond of American Airlines even though we had been pretty loyal to them over the past decade.
The flight pretty much took off on time at around 8:45am, and no one bothered us about the middle seat that we weren’t assigned between A and C. In fact, the guy who was probably supposed to sit there didn’t even bother asking and just took the aisle seat that we vacated. Good deal for everyone all around I guess.
At 10:45am, the plane had finally landed. Apparently, it was 40 minutes versus the scheduled arrival time of 11:25am. That’s quite rare. But it turned out (unsurprisingly) that most of the waiting was for the airport parking shuttle from LAX to where we had parked the car. It’s the most frustrating thing about coming home, and there’s really no excuse for not having mass transit connecting to the airport like our Chicago O’Hare experience earlier this morning.
I guess that’s a pretty damning reflection of just how our politicians or city planners cave into special interests. Money talks in a greedy capitalistic system. And there’s really not much we can do about it.
Anyways, it was 12:15pm when we were finally home. Tahia had missed grandma dearly, and she was thoroughly excited to see her. And now begins the work after the vacation, where we’d have to clean up and tidy our things while also getting caught up on the stuff we missed in these last two weeks. Ah, fun times…