Vegas: Tough Start

I’ve flown a lot over the past few years, and my flight to Vegas edged its way into my top 3 awful experiences. Story time!

The trip started well. We flew Frontier, and to my surprise and delight, Frontier added a TSA Precheck line at Terminal 5. The last time I flew Frontier, about a year ago, there was no separate line, so even having Precheck I had to pull out my laptop and hastily repack my bag. This time around, smooth sailing.

Our first hazard came when we got to our gate. Gate M2 was at the very end of the terminal, and as soon as we got there, it was clear something was wrong. There were way too many people in the waiting area.

Frontier smashes two gates into the same little waiting space, and lo and behold, both planes were delayed. The other flight out of the gate had a vanilla reason- the plane hadn’t arrived yet from its previous segment. Our plane to Vegas, though, had been ready for five hours, but they just couldn’t coordinate how to get it to our gate.

The board continued to read “On Time” up to and well past the time we were supposed to depart. Eventually the next flight overtook us on the board and we sat in limbo. Frontier provided no updates online or in person on the status.

While waiting, there was a big disturbance when a man who was supposed to be on our flight to Vegas started shouting incoherently and getting up close and personal with airport security. About ten police officers showed up, and we got to watch over an hour while the lead negotiator talked the man into leaving without any further scuffle. That’s one thing I can’t complain about- they did a great job talking the guy down.

When we finally boarded, the Frontier staff kept announcing that we had a full flight, so naturally I was curious where the one empty seat from the intoxicated (?) man would be. It was next to my dad! Go figure, bullet dodged.

Christina’s seat had a big slab of chewed gum stuck to the belt. The staff helped with a tissue but there was still some gum left on it when we were ready to take off, so Christina wrapped the seatbelt clasp with tissue for the whole flight. Makes me a little nervous about what other cleanliness checks were missed!

The flight was uneventful, which was fine. Already far behind schedule, I was a little bit nervous about how much sleep we were going to lose (initial landing time was supposed to be 10PM Vegas time, midnight Chicago time) and we were already well behind.

We landed at about 10:40 Vegas time, with a faster than planned flight clawing back some of our lost minutes. Everyone on the flight was ready to get out and go to sleep.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. After stopping on the runway for a while, an announcement was made that the airport didn’t have anyone who could help our plane to the gate, and we’d be stuck for a while.

After about forty five minutes, the flight attendant came on the PA and told us that there was still no end in sight, and that we’d be stopped for at least another hour. This drove the passengers into a near-frenzy, with many of them starting to yell for action.

Not to condone getting unruly in situations like this, but the passengers threatening revolt may have actually helped us here. Only a few minutes after the announced delay, we got another update that they would dock us sooner, and within a few more minutes we were on our way to the gate. After another fifteen minutes for the final thirty feet, we made it in.

Now, we were in the airport after we were already hoping to have been soundly in bed, and the adventure still wasn’t done. We still had baggage claim and rental cars to contend with.

To echo my mantra of life being a puzzle, we found a solution to make the next phase much less painful. Christina and my mom waited for the baggage while my dad and I went straight to the rental car facility to sort out our vehicle situation. The timing worked out perfectly, with the ladies catching up to us at the rental facility only minutes after we got our keys. Kudos to Budget rental for making this part hassle free.

Exhausted in the early AM, at about 3AM Chicago time, we finally pulled into our hotel. I wasn’t familiar with Sonesta Simply Suites, but we were very happy with our room and crashed immediately.

Now here we are on day 2! It’s almost noon here and we haven’t done anything yet. Our original plan to visit the Grand Canyon today may fall by the wayside. I’m not unhappy, though- there’s so much to do in the area and I have two friends joining us in town tonight.

We’re also inordinately excited about the fact that there are multiple locations of Hungry Howie’s Pizza here. It was a college favorite for Christina and we usually grab some when our travels take us through Michigan, but it looks like Vegas has some locations, too!

I will also hopefully have a few escape room stories soon! I originally intended to hit my 500th room out here, and while I may not hit that target, I’m still hoping to hit at least a few rooms today.

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