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12. The Russell Luck Fails?

No Kevin! NO KEVIN!

sunny 55 °F

Homeward Bound! My flight plan:

3:22pm-6:47pm Punta Arenas to Santiago LATAM 292
Layover: 1:53
8:40pm-10:25pm Santiago to Lima, Peru LATAM 530
Layover: 3:05
1:30am-6:55am Lima to Houston United 855
Layover: 5:20
12:15pm-2:26pm Houston to Kansas City United 4201

John Lennon quoting Allen Saunders: Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Today, Life Happens.

United and LATAM, the two carriers in charge of bringing me home, started communicating early.

9:58am Text: Your 1:30am flight from Lima to Houston is delayed because an earlier delay impacted your plane’s arrival. UA855 now departs at 3:18am on December 21. (It had originally been scheduled at 1:30am. That didn’t present much of a problem because, as you can see above, I had a 5:20 layover in Houston. With this delay, I still have a 3:30 layover. Plenty of time for customs and immigration.

9:59am email: Your flight to Santiago is delayed. LATAM 292 will now depart at 4:10pm and arrive Santiago at 7:35pm. Now that’s a problem. Before I had just under two hours to connect in Santiago. Now I have just over one hour. I must clear customs and immigration in Santiago. That will be tight.

1:33pm Text: Delay update: Your 1:30am flight from Lima to Houston is delayed further because an earlier delay impacted your plane’s arrival. UA855 now departs at 4:00am on December 21. Still manageable. We’re sorry for the extra delay and are working to get you on your way. Now I have a 2:50 layover. Should still be fine.

3:48pm Text: Delay update: Your UA855 flight from Lima to Houston is still delayed, but it’ll now depart at 3:30am on December 21. Ahh; things are getting better. My Houston layover will now be 3:20.

4:10pm email: Your flight to Santiago is delayed further. LATAM 292 will now depart at 4:25pm and arrive Santiago at 7:50pm. That’s a critical problem. Fifty minutes to make an international connection will be impossible. However, the nice gate agent tells me that I will actually have two hours. I assume she knows something about the Santiago to Lima flight: It must be delayed as well. She insists that since it is a full flight, I must check my rollaboard. I explain about the short connection and how she doesn’t want me to become disconnected with my bag. She says, no, go see that guy over there for a luggage check. I turn on the charm with him and say “Please” about five times. He relents. I roll aboard and stow my bag in the overhead bin as I always do.

4:45pm. We take off from Punta Arenas.

8:10pm. We arrive in Santiago. My flight from Santiago to Lima is on time at 8:40. Thirty minutes to connect? I'M SO BUSTED.

8:15pm. I find a LATAM courtesy counter. “We will get you a hotel.”

Willie Nelson: "Nothing I Can Do About It Now."

8:15:20pm. “No. That won’t do. Let’s find me another way to get to Kansas City that doesn’t involve Lima at all,” I say. Pulling out my iPhone I refuse to leave my place in what is now a lengthening line and quickly see on the United app that it has a non-stop from Santiago to Houston leaving in two and a half hours. The app shows that they have one unsold business class seat. The agent is visibly disappointed at this news. "But what about your baggage?" she asks. I never check a bag unless, well, let's just say that I don't check a bag unless I absolutely must. I can only surmise that it would be much easier for her to give me a hotel voucher and send me on my way to a nice bed in Santiago than to get on the computer and snatch up that seat to get me out of here. She says, “I will send United an email. Please sit over there.” I am really not enamored with that plan so I turn on the charm. This being South America, I decide that I can actually overplay it and not be accused of being overly familiar. It is at times like this that I remember how much I owe Dentist Hal and Linda Lee for improving my smile all those years ago. It seems to work. She calls over a supervisor who begins to work the computer and, voila! Muchas Gracias Senior; "De Nada." I’m off to immigration where the line is, well, very very long.

10:45pm. I am comfortably ensconced in seat 7A on United flight 84, non-stop to Houston. Arrival will be around 5:15am. There is no earlier Houston to Kansas City flight—you can be sure that I checked—but I am still on the 12:15 to Kansas City, arriving into B4’s loving arms promptly as scheduled at 2:26pm.


5:00am.734016b0-23ee-11ea-8a50-a70a8022c1d7.jpg I clear immigrations (if you don't have Mobil Passport from our dear friends at TSA, download it to your phone; it is faster than Global Entry) and customs and make my way to the United Polaris Lounge for a shower and a change into clean clothes--the last I have. Everybody is friendly and welcoming, none more so that Betty who assigns me to shower suite #1. Happy Holidays as I make my way back home to B4.


Travel is an adventure. Of course, I mean the Antarctic expedition was an extraordinary adventure. But, I also mean the expertise that comes from experience which equips one to treat disaster as an opportunity to outwit the system: 613,917 miles on United, 1,256,236 miles on Delta, 3,447,499 miles on American, (that's 213.55 times around the planet) 2,203 nights in Marriotts (that's over six years of nights); well over 112 countries visited, quality time spent now on all seven continents—you get the picture—teaches you that anything is possible. If a mishap can happen, it will and it has probably happened to me. I know a thing or two because I've seen a thing or two.

And then, of course, there is The Russell Luck. Tonight, fresh from surviving a near miss, I shall buy a Powerball ticket. If I win, there will be one more entry on this blog.

large_MyDinnerWithAJ.JPGAnd to think, without the amazing weather and without Tate, Eric, Jake, Bella, Dianne and Lauren (and AJ in this shot) and all the rest of my amazing travel mates, I could have been Kevin. There was one night in Rock n' Roll Randy's Lounge where one of our Chinese expeditions had commandeered the microphone--it could have been like this:

Posted by paulej4 05:49 Archived in Chile

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Well! experience does count, but being relentless and resourceful counts more...
I'd count this as a winner of a trip! The flight back on first class, I am sure, was not all bad either.
Welcome back and hello Beryl!
Hugs to both of you,

by ursula terrasi

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