Monday, February 05, 2007

The Worst Business Trip -- EVER

A week ago, I had a business trip to Las Colinas, Texas, just outside of Dallas. It was, by all accounts, my worst business trip ever – and I mean EVER. I’ve traveled quite a bit and consider myself quite comfortable arriving places I’ve never been to before and I’m not familiar with. I wasn’t worried at all about my trip. I got my MapQuest maps before I left so I’d be able to get from the airport to my hotel, from the hotel to the office, and back to the airport. I was all set.

Things started going awry as soon as I arrived at the airport. I went to the check-in kiosk and the computer couldn’t find my reservation. Confused, I went to the counter to find out that my reservation had been cancelled when the payment didn’t go through. I’d made the reservation through American Express corporate travel, so I was very confused. I called AmEx travel to find out why I didn’t have a ticket. They said it was a “computer glitch” that happened when their computer went to pay with a credit that I had from a previous cancelled flight. They reinstated the flight (at $200 more than the original ticket) and filed a complaint for me so I could get the money back.

With ticket in hand, I set out for the plane that was a half hour late. For once, I was actually happy with the delay as I didn’t have to stress about getting to the plane on time even with my ticketing issues. The flight was uneventful, which in the grand scheme of things really is the most important part of the story. I was safe the whole time, even if I was miserable by the end of the trip.

When I arrived in Dallas, I rented my car and left the airport with my map in hand. What I hadn’t realized before setting out on my drive to the hotel is that the airport is 5 miles north to south. My map was leaving from the north end of the airport, but the rental location put me leaving the airport at the south end of the airport. Dallas is a maze of highways. The hotel was 7 miles from the airport with highway the whole way. In a perfect world, this would have been a 10 minute trip. In my alternate universe, it was almost an hour, including my trip into and out of Dallas proper. Ugh! By the time I got to the hotel, it was 10:00. I was hungry and a bit grumpy, so I just wanted dinner and sleep. At the front desk, I asked about room service. The answer was, no. There is no room service there. I had to go out again and find some dinner. After finally finding a Taco Bell, I got dinner and found my way back to the hotel. Sleep at last!

The next morning, I had to be at the office at 8:00. Did I mention that it’s 2 hours ahead of Seattle? That’s like being at work at 6:00 Seattle time. I was a bit tired. The reason I was in Las Colinas was to facilitate a round-table discussion. Normally, this is an easy task for me. Also, I listened in on a similar call in Charlotte a few hours before mine in Las Colinas. I had my colleague helping me with setting up a Live Meeting that we could record and reserved the room a half hour ahead of time so I could get all set up. Then the crazy floor plan struck. My conference room was nowhere near the other conference rooms with numbers right above and below mine. By the time I got to the conference room, I had only 5 minutes to get everything set up and the Live Meeting recording wouldn’t work. Then the people who came wouldn’t talk. It was pretty aggravating and I wasn’t having fun. I don’t think I won any credibility with my peers in the other organization either.

When the round-table was done, I got to work on some other things I needed to do and got them all taken care of. I thought my plane left at 2:40, so I got on my way at 1:20. I got directions from my colleague to get to the airport so I wouldn’t waste any time. Well, I made two mistakes there. First, the flight was leaving at 2:20, not 2:40. Second, I got directions to the north end of the airport. That meant I had to drive all the way through the 5 miles of airport with the arrival and departure traffic.

When I finally got to the rental car return, it was so crowded I had to wait another 10 minutes to get out of there. The only good side of this was that it gave me time to change my blistered feet out of the offending shoes and into more comfortable shoes. On top of everything else, I made a really bad footwear choice for the day.

I finally arrived at the terminal at 1:48. I knew you needed 30 minutes to check in, so I ran to the kiosk to get in there under the wire. Then the kiosk asked me which later flight I wanted. I was crushed. I went to the counter and the woman told me it was 40 minutes for checked bags. I asked if I could get my bag back and go on the earlier flight. She stopped the belt, grabbed my bag, looked at the ticket and told me not to bother. I was in terminal C and the earlier flight was in terminal A. There was no way I could make it. I resigned myself to 2 hours in the airport and got in line for security.

I called the DH to tell him I’d be later than planned and started to cry. I was so tired and just wanted to be home again. Instead, I nursed my blistered feet and found a stuffed armadillo for the DH and enjoyed a salad at Chili’s. When I got home, the DH had a wonderful dinner prepared for me and we fell into bed shortly after eating dinner. I think that’s about the happiest I’ve ever been to get home from a trip.


An Ordinary Mom said...

My goodness, that sounds horrid! Having to deal with one of those issues might have been okay, but all of them in one trip ... I am glad you are home safe and sound.

And a good cry every now and then is good for the soul ... so is having a DH to cook you a wonderful dinner!

Fantastic Five said...

That is so sad! Thank goodness for having a good DH to nurse those travel battle scars.

Glad to hear you made it back safe and sound.

Liz said...

What an awful trip!! I'm exhausted just reading about it.

Almost as bad as Darin's uncle Dave. He just wrote from Moscow where he and his wife are serving a sort of accounting mission. His last business trip involved nearly being arrested in Belarus in the middle of the night.