Planes and trains

Initial review of the AGU conference: awesome. Brain is happy from the learndrophins. More on that Sunday, after I catch up on sleep.

The BART ticket machines’ user interface must have intentionally been poorly-designed. Buying a ticket went like this:

  • Look up fare on the list posted to the right of the machine.
  • Put credit card into slot.
  • Remove credit card out because I did not choose a “selected machine.” This one takes Debit/ATM Cards, not credit cards.
  • Feel the burning stares of the people behind me.
  • Fumble with wallet. Put a $20 in the cash input.
  • Select ticket amount. The numeric keypad doesn’t work. Instead, I have to press the combination of “Add $1.00,” “Subtract $1.00”, “Add $0.05,” “Subtract $0.05” to arrive at $5.15 (Powell St.). This starts from $20.00.
  • Print ticket.
  • Receive my 56 quarters, 8 dimes and nickel.

For a while, it looked like I was going to be wrong about what I said regarding the plane versus train decision. The aircraft had “a mechanical issue.” (I asked: initially they thought it was with the mechanism that deices the engines by channeling in warm exhaust; it was actually electrical.)

Since this is their last flight out of Oakland, and flux capacitors are damn hard to find on a Friday night, they have been trying hard not to officially cancel it. Doing so would oblige them to put us up for the night. For a $109 flight, there’s not much margin. They offered passengers the option to un-check their bags and be bussed over to San Francisco Intergalactic Spaceport to maybe get standby on something that possibly arrives in the low single digits tomorrow.

It reeked of bait and switch. Alaska flies their planes very full. The MVP Precious Metals and Rare Minerals passengers, who never check bags (because they always board first), would bypass having to claim their bags, going straight to the reticketing counter and absorbing any remaining capacity.

At 9:16, the walkway was pulled away and the plane towed. The online site reported an on time departure. Check out that scheduled arrival time:

The thinning ranks teeming around the gate desk were hopeful we’d get officially canceled and could get away from the pore-resonating “IMPORTANT SECURITY WARNING” message that seems to come on whenever I wanted to talk on my cell phone or the gate agent was saying something or when I’d be too into Afel Bocoum’s Alasidi. (Okay, I can take a hint. I won’t sing Better Man next.)

Soon, they announced that a plane they keep in reserve would be used to fly us to Seattle and we’d get in a lot earlier than the MVPs who took bait. And get a $6 voucher to blow on a burrito.

The new plane just rolled up to the gate. Time to board!

[Every passenger had a row to themselves. My cabbie had some kind of night vision issue. Home at 1:23:45]

4 thoughts on “Planes and trains”

  1. Geez! I guess my wishes for you getting a good flight home were in vain. Maddening! I’m glad you eventually did make it home, even if it was in the early-single-digits. 🙂

    And I second your comments on the BART ticket machine. I’ve learned to put $10.30 on the ticket, so that I can get to SF and back without having to use the machine twice. But I was still foiled, this year, forgetting that the machines don’t take Amex cards — which they tell you AFTER you finish doing “-$1.00″ and ” $0.05″ until you reach the right fare (because, of course, they start you at $20 no matter what) and try to print the final ticket. Sigh.

  2. Kiri, the flight was perfect. Thanks! 😀 (It was just the setup that was the problem. I’m really glad I didn’t take the bait; I got caught up on work while I was waiting.)

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