Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BEST. WORK TRAVEL. WEEK. EVER. (Okay, Second Best. But a CLOSE Second.)

So when I realized what my travel schedule for work was looking like this week, I can safely say that "headache" was not too far from the top of my mind. Unlike some other people in consulting, I definitely am not one to thrive off of travel- I mean, don't get me wrong, I'll obviously do it, but all this talk about points and status and privileged access to things (i.e. airport lounge)... well, let's be honest, I could really care less about. (Well, that's not a COMPLETELY fair statement... I have to say- my travel life has certainly gotten easier with the whole Silver status thing on United... a big accomplishment for me!)

Anyway, so when I learned that I would be flying out to Cleveland Sunday night, flying back to Chicago Monday night, and then flying BACK to Cleveland Wednesday night... well, like I said before- headache wasn't too far from my mind (and yes, I know- I'm a wimp because, yes, I know, people do this kind of ping pong'ing ALL the time).

All I have to say is, after this week... I LOVE PING PONG'ING!!! Omg guys, this week has seriously turned into the second best* work travel experience EVER for me!!!!

Okay, so the week started off standard enough- I just traipsed out to O'Hare and took my flight as scheduled Sunday night. Monday, however, I was scheduled for an 8:51 PM United flight back to Chicago. Although my client site was only a half hour from the airport, I left the client site around 5:25 PM, to allow enough time for traffic and all that. Well... I quickly learned that the big, bad cities of Streetsboro and Twinsburg, OH (GOD, I love small town northern Ohio! Hahaha) basically have no traffic. So I arrived with PLENTY of time to spare for my flight. So much time, in fact, that I decided to lollygag a bit in the airport, strolling through the terminal, stopping in the restroom to change into my cozy sweats, etc.

It was only at about 7:05 that I checked my departure gate info and realized that there were TWO flights heading to Chicago ahead of mine... one at 7:15 PM and one at 7:55 PM. I figured it was too late to even TRY to get on the 7:15 PM flight, but since I had to pass that gate to head to the next scheduled departure gate, I threw caution to the wind (okay, so I'm a little overdramatic) and just stopped by the 7:15 PM gate for a friendly inquiry. It didn't seem too promising... the gate was legit devoid of people (everyone had already boarded, obviously) and there was just one little old lady working the desk.

Well, miracle of miracles... it's amazing what a little friendly inquiring can do! She TOTES was able to shovel me on that 7:15 PM flight!!!! Seriously, ten minutes before it's about to fly OUT! Crazy, right?!?!?! As if THAT weren't enough... so I get on the plane and am a little confused because I see that my assigned seat was already occupied. Initially, I got a little nervous, thinking my luck was so short-lived. Well, the flight attendant I stopped to ask about this little mix-up just looked a little frazzled and was like "Well, just take that seat... it's open." So, I look to where she is gesturing... and it's an Exit row seat (extra leg space?!?!?! Yes, PLEASE!). Not only is it an Exit row seat... it's a WINDOW Exit row seat!!!!! WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?!?!?!?!?

Okay. So that was experience #1 of this week of utopian work travel experiences. Not only did I make it home an hour and a half earlier than expected (it was still light out when we landed and everything!), but I did it with extra leg space and a beautiful little window view. SIGH. Happiness.

Okay, onto experience #2. So, I had to fly back to Cleveland tonight (Wednesday night), but this time on Southwest (since I had a travel credit I had to use up). Based on the ridiculous half hour wait for a cab from my Chicago client site yesterday around rush hour, I decided to head to the airport mid-afternoon (immediately after my client work was done), JUST so I would be ensured a fairly easy cab hailing, non-rush hour experience. Okay, so a cab literally materializes out of thin air as soon as I walk to the cab stand. Happiness point #1. THEN, we got stuck in some traffic and, upon getting to the airport, I got stuck in this ridiculously long security line... ugh, talk about luck running out. Anyway, finally I make it through security and check the departures screen. Okay, so it was 5:25 by the time I finally made it through security and was checking the departures screen. My flight was only scheduled for 8:55 but, would you look at that? There was a 5:55 PM Southwest flight. I knew that flight was sold out though (because that's the one I'd originally tried to book), so I knew it was going to be a long shot trying to get on it... but I guess it never hurts to try, right? Right.

So I mosey on over to the departure gate and ask the flight attendant guy about my chances of getting on standby. I am the 8th person on the standby list. For a sold out flight, the prospect of getting on this THREE-HOUR EARLIER flight was highly unlikely. After waiting for just about 10 minutes, they started calling people off the standby list and... oh my heavens, before I knew it, I was hearing the standard "Christie Mali... Mali-yackel?" (You know, because who REALLY knows how to pronounce my last name, let's be honest here.)

I HAD SO GOTTEN ON THE FLIGHT STANDBY!!!!!! I was in legit shock. As if THAT weren't enough, as I was waiting for them to print out my standby ticket (sigh, I want to frame it, really), there was one lady who had just arrived behind me and she was asking about getting on standby for the same flight... and, no joke, the flight attendant was like "I'm sorry, ma'am, but this girl over here got the very last seat."

Now... normally, I'm not one to like rejoice because others can't get on earlier flights but... for some reason, I just felt oddly PROUD of this accomplishment (and I had NOTHING to do with it! Just... fate, if you will.)

SIGH. Okay, so THEN! The flight was just fine and dandy, I land three hours earlier than expected (it was daylight AGAIN when I landed!), and head to pick up my rental car. Once I'm on the highway... I'm not kidding, the cars that were in front of me throughout my 45-minute drive to my hotel were literally just moving out of my way... as if the highway were alllll mine. (Okay, so maybe that had more to do with the fact that I was careening down the highway at 90 mph for the majority of the drive but... well, what? Ohio's so FLAT... and there's just so much SPACE... and, well, we've already established that there's very little traffic in good ol' northern Ohio... what's a girl to do otherwise? I know, right? Speed. Thank you.)

Okay, get this. So as I was driving along my merry way, I started thinking about what I wanted for dinner. Normally, I really don't enjoy eating out while I'm travelling for work- it's just NOT healthy no matter how healthy you try to be and, quite frankly, I'd prefer eating out to be a "special treat" rather than a normal occurrence. But whatever. Anyway, so as I was driving along, I was thinking about how the only option I could really go for was Chipotle (I mean, let's face it, I was heading to Streetsboro, Ohio. I figured my selection of restaurants was going to be quite limited to begin with.). And I never really crave/eat Chipotle.

Okay, SO, you are NOT going to believe this. I drive up to the intersection where I have to turn right to head to my hotel... and, no joke, there is legit a Chipotle RIGHT across the STREET!!!!

Anyway, as if THAT weren't enough... after a quick pit stop at Chipotle, I make my way to my hotel. And sure, it's nothing super special (just the TownePlace Suites), but I was lucky enough to have gotten a room for tonight (since I'd had to change my travel plans slightly last minute and had just called this morning to see about room availability for tonight). Okay, so not only were they able to get me in (despite them having been sold out per my initial phone call) BUT they were able to get me in... da da daaaa! A TWO BEDROOM SUITE!!! All for just $10 more than what I was originally paying for my standard room!!! And let me tell you... when I walked into this thing, I was like "Wow, I think I could really just MOVE to Streetsboro, Ohio!"... this place is bigger than my apartment... AND it has THREE LARGE TVS?!?!?!? WTF!!! I just want to turn them all on just... well, because I can!!!!

As if THAT weren't enough... GUESS what these people have in their lobby?!?!?! That's right... FREE (SOFT) COOKIESlkjlkfsajdlflaksjdflaksjdflkjL!JLK!J!lkjlkjfds!!!!

I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?! This night really just can't get any better. But in all seriousness... well, screw seriousness!!! ISN'T THIS THE BEST WORK TRAVEL EXPERIENCE EVER?!?!?!? Okay, still second-best (as I referred to before), but STILLlkfjlskjflkjdsl!!!!

Sigh. HAPPINESS. That is ALL I can say at this point.

*My best work travel experience ever still has to be my very first first-class experience.

No comments:

Post a Comment