With travel, a few hours can make a lot of difference

I recently took a trip to Las Vegas. My flight out of
Detroit left at 6:20 PM on 4/10 (Saturday) and got into Phoenix at 8:00 PM and
the connecting flight to Las Vegas left at 8:50 PM, getting in at 10 PM. The
flight out of Detroit was delayed 20 minutes due to storms but still got in
early.

When we landed in Phoenix, I put my phone on and had 3 texts
from Southwest. Your flight is delayed til 10 PM. Your flight is delayed til 11
PM. Your flight is delayed til 12 midnight.

I call Budget (my rental car company for this trip) and
explain the situation. I was scheduled to pick up my rental car by 11 PM and
told them I would not get to rental car facility til about 1:30 AM. At first,
she said she would have to cancel my reservation and then make a new one. I
knew I would not get my $82 rate on a rebooked rental so I protested, and she
said ok, she can just move the time. Then she tells me that Budget closes at 1
AM in Las Vegas rent a car center. I was not expecting that. I said, “what do I
do?” and she says that Budget re opens at 7 AM. Not good.

I call the Golden Gate (where I am staying the first 2
nights), explain the situation and they tell me, as long as I check in by noon
on Sunday, everything will be fine. That was nice to hear.

I now go to the Southwest customer service, explain the
situation and ask what they can do. The lady tells me I can catch a flight in
the morning. I ask about a hotel for the night and she said they can offer a
discount, but not a freebie, since the delay was weather related. Transportation
would be on me and Uber/Lyft are difficult to get.

I decide to think about my options over a bite to eat. It is
now 8:30 PM and almost everything is closed at Sky Harbor airport. 8:30 on
Saturday and they are locking up? I finally find a place and they tell me we
have one hot sandwich available. I take it, give him a few dollar tip and thank
him for being open, and enjoy my meal.

After thinking about my options, I decide to keep my
midnight flight and just wander around LAS for 5 hours til I can go pick up my
rental car. This will give me plenty of time to machine hustle at the airport.

We touch down about 1 AM and after taxi and deplane, it is
1:30 AM. There is no one at the airport. I may not have seen 10 people,
including workers. And to top it off, all the slot machines are roped off
because they are moving them around. I decide to wait at the rent a center, hop
the shuttle and get to the facility about 1:45 AM. For kicks, I walk over to
the Budget desk and it is dark and roped off, but I see a worker in there, so I
go it. He asks if I have a reservation, I say yes, and he says okay I’ll take
care of you. Very, very nice of him. We finish the paperwork, I leave him a tip
so he and his co worker can grab a coke, and head on my way.

I finally got to bed about 3:30 AM so the trip was off to a
rough start, but it could have been much worse.

Lessons learned:

  1. Avoid the last flight of the night.
  2. Be aware that not all rental car facilities in
    Las Vegas are open 24 hours any more
  3. Do a little scouting on the last airport you
    will be in to see what is open and what isn’t, in case there is a delay.
  4. Since rental cars are now grossly expensive and
    Uber/Lyft are difficult to get, securing your car rental is way more important
    than it used to be.
  5. Put a non-perishable snack in your backpack.
    Delays will happen and sometimes, there are no good alternatives except to wait
    it out.
  6. Review travel protection offered by your credit
    cards. Two things worked against me on this trip. It was a frequent flier
    flight and I used a gift card for the 911 security fee. For future, I should
    use a credit card for the fee and make sure that I am offered travel protection
    if only a portion of the trip is paid for with a credit card. Also, this was a
    weather delay, so it is very tough to get compensation. Especially since the
    actual delay was 3 hours and 15 minutes.

Travel nowadays is not very accommodating to delays/issues
and I don’t see it getting much better. You now have to prepare in ways that
you didn’t have to worry about previously.

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