Travel hell

28. July 2006 | Category: 50outs

See what can happen to you if you try to be smart and keep your money together:

Last monday morning, 4 AM, just busted out of the 350 seats guaranteed at pokerstars. I finally look at Condor airline (subsidary of Thomas Cook Travel and driven by Lufthansa) for two seats to Las Vegas, one-way, as we have our backflights already. Oh fine, two seats left for a flight on Tuesday. But are those the cheapest available? And if we go on tuesday already, don’t we have to cover two hotel night on our own? PokerStars only covers hotel from the 27th onwards… let’s surf around a little if there not flight on Thursday, maybe even cheaper! Bad idea….

After looking around for two hours an finding nothing right I went back to Condor to buy those tickets but they were sold. Sold out! Outch. I spend the whole Monday now looking for some other reasonable offer and finally found something using Continental ariline. But there is a catch: the flight starts from Cologne, not Hamburg going to Newark and then to Las Vegas. I talked with Katja about it but that same connection via Hamburg was four times as expensive so we decided to take a train to Cologne which was an even easier decision as the train ticket was included in the airfare. Now, the flight was supposed to leave Cologne at 10:35 local time and the time needed to get to Cologne is a little over four hours but no early enough train available. Ok we said, then we got there the day before and stay one night at an airport hotel.

So, at Wednesday 15:30 our hell trip started. We had ordered a cab to pick us up at home and get us to the main station. The time left was about 25 minutes for a 7 minute trip so plenty of time you would figure? Not with that cab driver. This was the most slow driver I have ever seen. Even after we insisted that we need to catch our train (we have been driving 12 minutes at that point already) nothing really changed. We got to the main station with 2 minutes left until the scheduled departure, with luggage and some way to go and some stairs to climb. We made it in the last second, already exhausted (it was Hamburg’s hottest day in recent history with about 38°C). Next surprise: no seats available. After walking the train up and down for 30 minutes we finally managed to get two separate seats. Ok, now going southward to Cologne. In middle-germany was a heavy thunderstorm and the train started to get later and later. We finally arrived 30 minutes late (a 5 hour travel by now) catched the ongoing S-Bahn running (with luggage) and finally arrived at Cologne/Bonn airport at about 21:30. The hotel was supposed to be very very close to the airport but nobody could tell us the way to we took a cab. Now you must know that cab drivers at this airport are waiting about 4 hours before they get passengers, there are more than 300 cabs waiting all the time (why they do this is unknown to me). So when we told the driver our destination she almost got an heart attack as it would be only a two minutes ride. That (female) driver managed to be so unkindly and rude in those two minutes that we did not even gave any tip and just paid the 4 EUR fare (3.20 is the basic fee lol). At the hotel we discovered that the air in cologne at 22:00 was very hot still and our room had no air condition. So we went into a Biergarten and had a very nice late dinner before going into a bad sleep.

Next morning we went on time to the airport just to be fouind into a long line of Continental airlines passengers. Nobody got checked-in! After 30 minutes we got informed about some “technical problems”. After just another hour (all the time standing in line) I went to the back of the counter and tried to get some informations from a continetal employee. She told me that they have a “computer problem” (Keyboard locked) and have not done a manual boarding since 10 years and dont think they can because that “Homeland security” deapartment wants to get all passenger passport details electronicly while the flights are still in the air. After another hour (!) someone decided that they will do a manual checkin and they started processing, very slowly. Of course, you can’t get booked to your final destination nor can your luggage. When we finally got onboard we had a four hour delay already. Then, something wrong with the car pushing back the plane, one more hour on the ground before the plane finally started. Our scheduled onward flight to Las Vegas was supposed to leave 4 hours after arrival but you need about an hour to pass immigrtion and get you luggage back. The flight itself was ok but long (~8 hours). After arriving in Newark we got very quick through the passport control (15 minutes only) but waited 90 minutes in the backage claim because our luggage wa snot coming. Not just ours, no luggage at all from that flight! Something wrong due to the manuall checkin process. Finally we got our bag and rushed over to the Continetal transfer desk. Sadly, as much as we rushed (we’ve been the the very first from our flight there 😉 the line in front of us was looooooooong because a plane from London was also 2 hours late. It took us 2.5 hours (!) to get to the counter just to be informed that there are no more seats on the single flight left going out that day to Las Vegas. If we like to take a hotel in NY for the night or try to go on stand-by. We took the stand-by option and went directly to the gates. Through security. Almost. Both Katja and I got picked up for “additional screening” which means you get searched very very closly and all your belongings are checked item-by-item. When we got out of this we proceeded to the counter which was almost empty already, the flight had finished boarding already. No seats available they told us. We hung there for some minutes, depressed, tired, exhausted when they suddenly called my name! There was a seat. We quickly talked if Katja or I shall take it but Katja said I should go because she would not be able to get the room anyway (all booked under my name). We almost said good-bye already when they called a seat for her also, great! We walked into the plane and took our seats, far from each other. I was just a minute in my seat when I heard the flight captain announce that due to a heavy storm somehwere all departures from Newark have been cancelled and that they don’t know yet if later on they will resume departures or only tomorrow. Oh well.

Directly to my right sat a young guy who was talking swedish to some friend stepping by from time to time. Young skandinavian guy on the way to Vegas? Must be poker player! I started talking to him and sure enough they are all players. His name was Jonas Berg, chief-editor from “First Poker” swedish poker magazine. We had an hour long very interesting talk before I fall asleep. When I woke up the flight was leaving. I asked him about the time I sleept and he said “about 4 hours”. Oh wow and a 5 hours flight still ahead.

Finally at 2:30 AM we arrived in Vegas and now everything went smooth. Our bag was the first one out, to taxi line, no waiting line at the reception at the Palms, our reservation was there and we’ve been able to get up to the room. Once there I decided to step over to the Rio’s and pick up our receipts for the main event, avoiding all waiting lines again. It was very quite over there (no wonder at 4 AM). I got the papers, watched Phil Hellmuth and Johnny Chan playing heads-up chines poker for five minutes before going back to the room. We ordered something to eat which was tasty and Katja went sleeping, she needs to play in a few hours!

This was by far the worst travel to Las Vegas I ever had. A real bad expierence. Continatal airline totally fucked up. Not only because they had problems or delays but their way of managing it was so bad, both in Germany and Newark that I doubt I will fly with them ever again – until our scheduled return flight home, which of course is with Contintal 🙁 (that is, until we get far in the main event >:]). Good night for today.

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