Why Being Nimble is Necessary in Traveling - Buenos Aires Day 1

April 17th, 2014

No matter how much planning I do, I'm always only about 50% ready for the trip when the time comes.  You never know what you're going to end up seeing and doing and there really isn't a way to prepare for all of it.  Then again, there are some trips where I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing.

This is probably one of those trips.

I've done some research, so I'm not going in cold.  But with the speed in which this trip was put together, I'm feel like I'm going in a bit blind.  I've hit the basics - TripAdvisor, Rough Guide Buenos Aires, but there is still a lot I know I'm missing.  I have been listening to Evita non-stop though, so...I'm sure I'm plenty prepared.  If being prepared means being able to sing "High Flying, Adored" at a moment's notice.

The actual day of travel started easy enough.  Dad picked me up in plenty of time.  The drive to the airport was uneventful.  Meeting Adele at the terminal was quick and painless.  Good stuff.

Adele has been angling since the start to get an upgrade to Business or First Class. She looked several times online and would send over alerts.  $350 plus 25,000 miles.  No.  Not a chance.  As we walked up to the counter, we expected good things.  It was the day of the trip.  They'd have to be thrilled to throw out a better number for an upgrade.  Let's do this.  The woman's response..,$350 plus 25,000 miles.  Wait.  What??  Seriously??  But we weren't deterred.  We'd try again later.

The next step for us was a bit of a game.  I have the TSA Precheck.  Adele has the line for Gold Status.  Who could get through security line first??

I just want to go on the record...I would have been first had the family not been in front of me.  So yes, I lost.  But, I learned about the TSA Precheck.  You can keep on your shoes.  The laptop can stay in the bag.  And so can the quart bag with the liquids.  In this particular terminal/section of ORD, I just had to walk through the scanner.  It was the normal scanner, not the one that twirls around you as your arms are raised in the air and the security people are in the he back room laughing at how everyone looks naked.  So while I lost, I actually won.

Adele was starving, so we decided to sit down at an actual restaurant.  We considered Frontera, but needed something a little lighter.  When you think light, you don't really think Macaroni Grill.  But it ended up being perfect.  We both had some white sangria, then some salads and we split meatballs.  Cause, meatballs.  It really ended up being perfect.  And we walked away from the restaurant and figured we were in great shape for the future.  

Little did we know our day was going to be a test of our skill set as a traveler.

We boarded the plane to Dallas (DFW) and we settled in as you do.  Neither of us realized anything could be amiss.  As we waited on the aircraft, phones started ringing.  Text alerts started alerting.  The 3:00 pm departure was going to be 3:10.  No big deal.  The pilot came over the loudspeaker and said there were a few lights out.  Nothing to worry about.  We'll be on the way in a few.  

More phones and texts.  3:15.  Still, nothing we are worried about at this point.  It was kind of funny when the pilot came on the speaker one time, he said he got the text from American Airlines telling him the time too.  

Once the departure was pushed back to 4:00 pm due to "mechanical failure", Adele and I had some talking to do.  We pulled out our phones to figure out what our layover looked like originally and now that we had a delay. The plane had not pulled back from the jetway and the door was still open.  We were not trapped.  This was the best part of our situation.  While we did the math, we realized if we leave at 4p, we would still make our flight to Buenos Aires once we landed at DFW.  The layover would be a little tough, but still doable.  But, we also had a contingency plan.

Flights the rest of the night were booked solid to DFW.  Not a problem for us.  If we flew to Miami, then Buenos Aires, we could be fine,

Phone calls and texts came through again.  Our flight wasn't leaving until 5p.  Now we had a problem.

Adele jumped on the call to the airline.  I started flagging down a flight attendant.  While Adele talked to the phone people about options (ones we had already found online), I was asking about the likelihood of getting our bags off of the plane.

Sidenote.  Every foreign trip, Adele has an overnight bag packed.  Or something that includes a few toiletries and maybe a change of undies.  I've always shied away from packing a bag like this.  For no good reason (or maybe because if space).  In the future, I will find a way to store a few toiletries and a change of undies in the carryon.

The flight attendant said we wouldn't be able to get our checked bags from the plane.  The operator at American Airlines said the front desk people might be able to help us do so.  Because at this point, we weren't going to get to our connecting flight in time.  We'd have to spend the night in DFW, then take a flight to Buenos Aires in the morning, essentially losing a day.  When you are only spending four days in a city, this is not an option.

We left the plane.

As we left the plane, we started working with Meg at our gate.  Initially, she was a little hesitant.  She didn't think she could do much about the luggage situation.  By this time AA had already rebooked us going to MIA/EZE (Miami to Buenos Aires, for those not in the airport code know).  But our winning personalities changed her mind (or she was just doing her job...whatever...I think she loved us).  She was finally able to get the luggage off of the flight and on to the new flight to Miami.

Except for mine.

My luggage went a bit rogue and had its own adventure.  Turns out, my luggage went on a 1p flight to DFW.  Not on the flight I was currently disembarking from.    This wouldn't have been a bad thing if the was no mechanical failure, cause we would have all met up in Buenos Aires at the same time anyway.  But here's the rub.  On an international flight, luggage can't always get placed on the plane without proof that the owner is on the plane.  And since I wasn't going to be on the plane to Buenos Aires, my luggage may not be on the plane either.  There was a very real possibility my luggage would get to Buenos Aires at 830p on Friday night.  Which made me highly disappointed I didn't have a stashed pair of undies in my carryon.

Meg at the desk wasn't sure what was going to happen.  Our new itinerary got us into Buenos Aires at 9a.  Two hours later than we originally expected.  My luggage was either going to be quietly circulating around a carousel waiting for me, or I was going to go without and would have a monumentally bad day.  We left to our new gate with that bit of information.

Ok.  Good news.  We were going to get to where we were going.  Good.  Bad news.  I may be walking around in the same clothes for two whole days.  Not so good.  But it was what it was at this point.  Once we got to our new gate, we both went into planning mode.  I called Baggage Service.  Adele called the Gold Status line.  And we both were told the same thing...it looked like my bag was scheduled to be on the 7p flight to EZE.  The one we were supposed to be on originally.  But they had no guarantee.  There was really nothing more we could do.  We knew when we landed in Miami, we could call and see where my luggage was.  But in Chicago, we just needed to reflect on what we just did.

Here's the thing...we were the first people off of the plane.  We had a plan and knew when the delay would be a problem for us.  And even as we were working at the gate to try and revise our itinerary, I was still getting calls about the delay.  The last call I had said takeoff would be 510p.  But I think the flight took off a little later than that.  Anyway, had we waited much longer, we wouldn't be in Buenos Aires right now.

On the flight to Miami, the guy next to me decided to play a game I like to call "Whose Arm Rest is it??" followed by my favorite train game "How Far Can One Person Take Over Another's Personal Space??"  In these games, there is no winner or loser.  No, I'm always the loser in this game.  Always.

Landing in Miami was no big deal.  We landed in the same terminal as where were taking off for Buenos Aires.  But there was one looming question.  Where was my luggage??

According to the baggage people on the phone, my bag was scanned to go on the original flight.  We think it was because AA knew they made a mistake in sending it on the earlier flight.  If it wasn't their mistake, I think the luggage would be on the plane after I boarded the flight in Miami.  Which would have gotten me the luggage a day later than expected.  

Now granted, we wouldn't know about my luggage until we landed the next morning.  We boarded the plane to Buenos Aires with hope.  Adele also tried to get an upgrade in Miami.  There were plenty of First Class and Business seats left.  $500 with no miles.  Boo.  I'll stay in coach.

The good news was that our flight to Buenos Aires was only going to take 8 hours instead of 10, so...yay, us!!  The flight itself was easy.  We tried sleeping after getting a bottle of wine and some food.  I slept on and off.  Adele, more so.  We knew we still had one leg of the adventure to go.

After landing, we went through immigration and now have a shiny new Argentina stamp on our passports.  Then, we went to baggage claim.  It was the moment of truth.  My luggage would either be here waiting, or it was going to be a long trip.  Adele found her luggage first.  I went to a desk with a vastly unhelpful person.  She did direct us to the carousel where the flight with my luggage would have let off.  Nothing.  We did a loop through the baggage claim.  Nothing.  I was starting to freak out a little bit, but we started to walk through the baggage claim again.  There was one other carousel turning.  Let's look.  And I'll be damned if my luggage wasn't a part of that pile.  Oh Happy Day!!  

My luggage and I embraced and we effect the airport for the adventure we were supposed to be having.  Not this crazy nonsense.  We were ready to dig deep into this city.  Once we took a nap first, cause...woah.  It was a day.


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