A Dawning Day In Beijing China

It is early morning on my first day in China. The sun is shining through the humid haze and people are out for early morning exercise.

I am rested after what was, perhaps, the worst day of international traveling I have ever experienced. Delays, missed flights, impossible rebookings, and extremely poor communications finally gave way to a pretty decent, if not hours late, flight on Air China. I was able to sleep on the flight in spite of the tiny baby screaming endlessly in the row next to mine. Poor little human, unable to express his frustration in any other way. I know how he felt, as that is how I felt at the San Francisco airport amid the drama unfolding with my bookings.

As a seasoned international traveler, I was surprised by the series of ridiculous events that occurred yesterday, each compounded until I broke. It is despicable how little the airline industry cares about its passengers, its bread & butter. Complete disregard for our needs and well-being, they just treat people like the numbers on their tickets. To say that they don’t give a damn is a drastic understatement. And, we the passengers, are at their mercy, because the second you show an emotion, as I did yesterday, the second you are labeled a problem. I was not the problem. 

The endless inadequacies of the travel agent, the gate agents, and the customer service agent at United: these were the problem people. After my first flight was delayed by nearly two hours in Denver and then on the tarmac in San Francisco, my fellow passengers and I watched our connecting flight depart from our airplane windows. Had United, who was well aware of the tight connection, simply held the plane for 15 minutes, we all could have been saved hours of waiting and complications. Then, the United customer service agents were completely at a loss as to how to rebook each of us (20 people in total). The idiot “helping’ me booked me on an Air China flight and then told me there was a 9-hour delay. I was directed to Air China in another terminal desk to confirm my seats. Upon arriving at Air China, I discovered that I was booked on a wrong flight for the next day and the flight I needed was not, in fact, delayed. Had I not been prompt, I would have missed this flight too! In the end, I was booked, my luggage was not. The flight left 45 minutes late. The travel agent in charge of my booking was utterly useless in helping me. 

Miraculously, I arrived in China only 5 hours behind schedule, cleared customs, and gathered my things, without much difficulty. Mysteriously, I was able to locate my luggage on another baggage carousel after much searching. I was met by my gracious handler, keys, and water in hand. I made it to the University late and slept soundly until the sounds of roosters stirred me from my dreamless sleep.

The adventure begins.

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