September 28, 2005
My parents drove me to O'Hare Airport in Chicago this afternoon. It was a dreary day today with rain falling throughout the trip. Ten miles before the airport, we ran into a traffic jam. My dad was pissed that we didn't leave sooner, and I got there a little latter than I thought I would, but I still had nearly two hours to spare, so I figured I'd be fine.
The airport was packed. With so many people talking all around me, I couldn't hear myself think, but after I got checked in, I did notice a rumbling in my stomach. That's when I remembered that I had barely eaten anything all day. I decided to cure my hunger with a Chicago-style hot dog. Normally, this would be a good idea, but not when the line is 15 people deep and there is only one employee working. The entire time I was in line I kept thinking about how great the phone call home would be: "Hi Mom. Unfortunately I missed my flight. I was in line for a hot dog, and next thing I knew, the plane took off without me. But the good news is that I'm full." After waiting for twenty minutes, I finally had a tasty hot dog in my belly. I still had about five minutes to spare before the plane began boarding, or so I thought.
My plane wasn't delayed; it just took off 1 hour late. How that doesn't constitute a delay is beyond me, but the travel boards all said "on time," nevertheless. I sat around and listened to the wild chatter all around me for 45 minutes before the plane was finally boarded. My flight to Miami was smooth, and I was 75% sure the delay would not cause me to miss my final flight.
I got to the Miami airport fairly late at night, and it wasn't nearly as congested as O'Hare. I picked up my backpack from the luggage claim and headed for the check-in for my flight to Lima. This was where I ran into my first real problem. When I tried to check my backpack, it was explained to me that I needed to have a return ticket because I was going to another country. I had read about such restrictions, but I didn't think they were very serious about enforcing them. I guess I was just naive, but somehow I thought that as long as I had money and could convince customs that I wasn't going to their country to steal their jobs, I would be fine. The airline didn't see it that way and forced me to purchase a return ticket. They really like to gouge you at the airport, so I had to pay $1300 for this lesson. I know that sounds bad, but apparently it is a refundable ticket, and as soon as I get through customs, I plan to collect that refund.
After I bought my ticket, I had to stand in line to send my backpack through the x-ray machine. I was in line fifteen minutes before I moved one step forward. At that point, I examined my boarding pass and found out that the plane would start boarding in another fifteen minutes. I was a little worried, but the line finally started to move faster. When my backpack entered the machine, I heard the guy inspecting the luggage yell, "Bag check!" I thought I was screwed, but luckily the bag to be checked was property of the guy in front of me. He had a behemoth of a bag that probably could have held everything I owned, and it was locked. As I walked away, I turned back to see the security guy snapping on a latex glove. Considering how long going through that whole bag would take, I wonder if he even made his flight.
I'm typing this from the gate that my plane will be leaving from. We still haven't started boarding, despite the fact that it is an hour after my boarding pass indicated. Well, I hope we haven't started boarding, anyway. I better check on that.