For my 7:00 a.m. flight to Austin (I’m flying there for South by Southwest Interactive), I arrived at the airport at 5:00 a.m., with my boarding passes already printed at home thanks to the modern miracle of web check-in. However, as soon as I arrived, I saw the word “retard” on the screen and knew that I was in trouble.
“Retard” is part of “En retard“, which then was replaced by its English equivalent: “Delayed”. To 9:30. Which meant that I’d miss my connecting flight in Cleveland.
To make matters worse, the line-up for Continental — which in Toronto is generally underserved and overcrowded at the best of times — was incredibly long.
Here’s a shot of the line in front of me:
and if you think that’s bad, here’s what the line behind me looked like after 20 minutes.
With only four ticketing agents and everyone’s schedules bunged up by yesterday’s snowstorm, it took a while to make it to the ticket counter. One hour and twenty-two minutes, to be precise.
The woman at the ticket counter had to work pretty hard to get me into Austin before Saturday. The only way to get me there was to fly me to Austin by first sending me to Cleveland, then Houston, then Austin, effectively turning a 6-hour trip into something approaching 14 hours. Good thing I have a whole unwatched season of Battlestar Galactica on the laptop.
U.S. Customs Knows Everything
“So,” said the customs agent as he read my file, “who do you work for now?”
“b5media,” I replied. “It’s my first day.”
He typed “b5media” on his keyboard and raised his eyebrows when he saw the resulting page.
“Have you…”, he said, with a little pause, “ever been refused entry to the United States?”
“Never, sir,” I replied.
“Not like some of your cohort.”
“You get what I mean, right?” He said that with a nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more glance.
“I think so…”
“You know the person in question?”
“You mean my boss, Jeremy Wright?”
Jeremy had a run-in with the long finger of Homeland Security in what is now a now-infamous (at least in the blogosphere) incident with U.S. customs.
“That’s the one,” said the customs agent. “You don’t want that kind of trouble, especially since your wife is a U.S. citizen. He went for quite a spin.”
Yeah, I thought. On the end of some ignorant power-tripping Homeland Security goon’s finger.
He gave me another look, stamped my passport and said “That’ll be all. Enjoy your visit to the United States, sir.”
Man, those guys have a lot of info on me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they know what’s on my iPod and how I like my steaks done.
How Long It Took
Total time from arrival at airport to getting to my gate: 2 hours. Urgh.