Leaving Las Vegas (or, a tough morning for a travel writer)

6:45 – Wake up in hotel room, energized with plans for gym, breakfast and site visits before my 11:25 flight.

7:01 – Turn on CNN. Instantly possessed with deep anxiety over the Obama administration’s seeming inability to accomplish anything meaningful. Shut TV off immediately and remind myself why I never watch TV at home except for “Mad Men.”

7:15 – Order room service breakfast for delivery at 8:45 and head to gym.

8:45 – No room service. Make decaf in the in-room coffee maker. Love the ease of use of the Keurig machine but worry that funneling the hot water through the little plastic coffee pack will cause chromosomal damage.  

8:53 – Phone Room Service. “It’s been trayed, and we’ll get it right up to you, sir.”

9:03 – Still no breakfast. “It’s right on its way, sir. So sorry for the trouble. I’ll speak with my manager about this.”

9:11 – Breakfast arrives. Lukewarm eggs Benedict with smoked salmon is really poached eggs over salty lox hacked to confetti atop potato pancakes so greasy they should be pronounced greazy. Hollandaise sauce has clotted. Server has a toaster on her cart and toasts the sourdough right there in my room. Admittedly, this is awesome.

9:20 – Turn on TV for checkout. The balance is incorrect. Phone front desk to fix.

9:25 – 30 minutes late for intended site visits. Try to drop off bags at bell desk before my site visits. Bell person is on the phone, and there are two other parties ahead of me. After several minutes, a bellman comes in from outside, takes my bags and assures me that my reserved 10:00 transportation to the airport is all set.

9:30 – Sprint to site visits. Casino smells like cigarette smoke (not welcome, especially at 9:30am). Another location is closed due to fire drill.

9:50 – Return to hotel. Staff has no clue about my transport to the airport.

9:55 – A different bellman, whom we shall call Sparky, brings my bags and offers to stay with me until my car comes. This could be a while, I tell him, but he tells me that he will stay as long as I want. This is creepy. Tip and dismiss him immediately.

10:00 – Fellow writers Linda and Michael, with whom I’d hung out for most of this junket, arrive. Staff cannot find their transport reservations either. Upside: I get to spend more time with Linda and Michael.

10:15 – Limo arrives and we rush in. Driver realizes, with some concern over the tight time, that we are all going to different airlines.

10:25 – We arrive at the airport in record time, but traffic within the airport is snarly.

10:31 – Arrive at US Airways counter and am told that I have to pay a $50 fee because I’m taking a flight earlier than my originally scheduled one. This is odd because a US Airways telephone representative had told me that I could make this change for free because I am a Star Alliance Gold Member. Counter agent’s response: “Yeah, that’s not the first time they’ve made that mistake.”

10:37 – US Airways manager arrives to tell me she won’t waive the $50 fee. I pay. Original ticket price: $64.50.

10:42 – At security gate, TSA agent shouts “Shoes!” at me from point-blank range. I stand up to full height, look her square in the eye and snap “Don’t yell at me.” She responds that she wasn’t yelling. I pity her children.

10:47 – Phone US Airways from gate area. Expected hold time: five minutes. When the agent gets on the line, I explain “I’m not having a real great day and hope you can help.” She actually is surprisingly helpful, motherly even, though neither she nor her supervisor is able to reverse the fee. I’ll have to write to the customer service department for my refund. Kyah, that’ll happen…*

11:10 – Finally on board. There’s a lady with Down syndrome behind me, blurting “hello” at everyone in sight. I think this is going to be the longest 45-minute flight ever. The flight attendant says “hello” back and discovers that the passenger is on the wrong flight and escorts her off the plane. Can you say “security breach?” How exactly did the gate agent not catch this?

11:20 – As the airplane doors close, post to Facebook: “Had a helluva time in Vegas, and a helluva time getting out of Vegas. LAS to LAX. Finally.”

11:45 – Sit back, sip fizzy water and remind myself that if these are my problems, I have it pretty good.

* I wrote to US Airways that afternoon, and my $50 was refunded, with profuse apologies and groveling.

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