Countdown to Seoul
Maricopa Travel Blog› entry 1 of 6 › view all entries
No, this is not a "prequel" to the 1988 XXIV Seoul Olympic Games, nor is it a reminiscent flashback upon its 20th anniversary. This is the anticipation and disorganized preparation for my first historic (to me anyway) footprint on Oriental soil.
Unlike our trip to the German Christmas markets, where we gave ourselves about thirty-six hours of predeparture preparation, this time we have allowed ourselves the luxury of ninety-six hours to make all the necessary arrangements.
We trawled through Gozed.com, Flyzed.com and every other interline website I could think of, to find just the right airline with the magic number of available seats. We didn't want to run the risk of getting "bumped" off the flight, as sometimes happens to airline employees who are traveling on reduced rate or free tickets. Should we fly out of Seattle or San Francisco? Would Asiana be better than United........which one has the most open seats, etc...... As it happens, we found that the airline with the largest number of available seats on Saturday, our day of choice, was Korean Airlines. The good thing was that the flight was nonstop from Dallas, Texas to Seoul. The bad thing was that we would have to fly to Dallas on the night before in order to catch the morning departure. I would be flying in from Phoenix and Mark would be flying in from Birmingham, Alabama, where he had been on business. Luckily, I'm flying positive space to Dallas on Mark's airmiles....yeah, I'm a "real" passenger!
After rushing around town to finish last minute appointments and errands, I left for the airport two and a half hours before my flight’s departure in order to check in and visit the currency exchange desk at a leisurely pace.
In addition to my own small 18” rolling bag and small computer bag, I was also pulling Mark’s 18” bag since he had only carried what he needed for the previous day’s trip to Alabama.
I had checked in for my flight at home, so I stopped by the check-in kiosks in order to check Mark’s bag. This is where I met the agent with no teeth. At least this was my impression, since she went out of her way to be surly and disagreeable without managing to crack a smile the entire time of our short interaction. I had a verbal tussle with the agent over the fact that I shouldn’t be charged to check a bag on my own airline since I’m an employee and also because Mark carries “Chairman” status on the airline due to his 100,000 plus mileage travel each year. She argued that since I was traveling positive space on Mark’s frequent flyer points, (for which he paid $30 to redeem), the free bag check didn’t apply. She wasn’t particularly amused when I told her she was being ridiculous and needed to use some common sense or the fact that the computer had printed “Chairman” on my boarding pass which might give me the extra benefit of boarding the aircraft before the rest of the passengers. With her lips firmly pursed and jaw tensed, she actually tried to take my boarding pass away from me, all the while mumbling to herself, “We’ll get THAT off there!” (referring to the aforementioned Chairman’s label)
I quickly snatched the paper from her hand, gathered my bags and strode to the main check-in desks where I found a very professional agent (with common sense) who gladly checked my bag for no extra fee.
Since I’d wasted so much time with the bag, I raced upstairs to the currency exchange only to find no Korean Wons at this location. I was directed to go through the security checkpoint and to the far end of the concourse to get the needed Won. I finally arrived at the opposite end of the airport, where my boarding gate was located, just in time to board the aircraft and wipe the sweat from my brow. And yes, I did board with my Chairman’s priority!
My day continued to improve when I discovered a friend and colleague, whom I hadn’t seen in years, working in the First Class cabin. For about the last hour of the flight, we had a good chinwag, as I recounted my harrowing experience with the woman with no teeth, as she plied me with Bloody Marys in the forward galley. I was definitely looking forward to the rest of my holiday!