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Tucson Festival of Books (1/3): Travel

Published March 18, 2017 by Melissa Koberlein

I’m dedicating a few blog posts to my trip out west for the Tucson Festival of Books.

As I rose at 4 am on March 10th, I realized that the predicted snow had not yet fallen. Hurriedly, I grabbed my phone and checked my trusty weather app. The colorful clouds bringing rain, sleet, and snow to the Lehigh Valley were indeed on their way. My flight was scheduled to depart at 6:25 am for Tucson by way of Chicago. The Tucson Festival of Books was my final destination, and I couldn’t wait to be surrounded by warm weather and books.

After arriving at the airport, with my boarding pass ready to go, I swiftly made it through security without a pat-down. This was a change from the last time I went through security at the Philadelphia airport and received a public chest exam. She was nice, and hopefully, I wasn’t too awkward (I may have tried to strike up a conversation amid her prying fingers fast at work around my bosom).
Anywho…

Once I had settled in a seat by the gate, I noticed that the attendant checking folks in for my flight began to eye up my carry-on bag. I glanced around at everyone else to be sure that my bag was similar to everyone else’s, which it was. Although, I admit my bag was a bit heavy due to a gift for my wonderful hosts and some swag-y items to hand out alongside selling my young adult trilogy (I shipped the books ahead of time). The attendant approached me and politely said, “You are going to have to check this bag.”

He then took my bag and set it perpendicularly on that metal frame that says, “does your bag fit in here?” Both my bag and the attendant looked ridiculous, but now the entire gate area was watching the exchange. I explained that this is the bag I travel with all the time. He asked me to follow him to his computer terminal to check my bag. I walked up there with him, and he asked for my ID, which, by the way, he never gave back to me. I had to retrieve my ID from behind his counter after he walked away. That metal frame was up there too. At which point I placed my bag in the frame horizontally, as expected, and it fit. At this point, I glared at him and said, “I will not be checking this bag.”
His response was to call someone else over to ‘deal’ with me.

She was nice. She said, “If you want to just gate check this bag, that will work.”
My response, “Why, yes, thank you.”

I breathed a sigh of relief. After being the target of some embarrassing baggage harassment, we all boarded the plane and pulled away from the terminal. We were finally on our way. Snow had just begun to fall.
And we stopped moving…
…for a while.

Finally, the captain came on the speaker. “Attention folks, we need to de-ice before takeoff, and the de-icing truck broke. We will have to wait until the truck de-icing another plane finishes, and then they will de-ice us.
An hour and a half later, we de-iced and were ready to take off, which also effectively ensured that I would miss my connecting flight from Chicago to Tucson. The bummer was that there were no other flights with my airline to Tucson. UGH! My only hope was to plead my case to an airline attendant to move me to another airline that had a flight headed to Tucson. When we landed in Chicago, I was able to get my flight switched, but I was going to have to run to another terminal, and even then, I might miss the flight. Needless to say, I made it. But, it was by far the most intense workout I’ve had in a while. I was plenty sore the next day. I’d also like to mention at this point that if I had checked my bag at the insistence of the airline worker back in Allentown, my bag would not have made it with me to Tucson.

RANDOM ASIDE-Has anyone had one of these Stroopwafels in-flight? It tasted like pure sugar encased in cardboard. My teeth chatter just thinking about it. Yeesh!

So, flash-forward to beautiful, sunny, Tucson, AZ! Look at that sky! The moment I stepped outside the airport, I shed my flats and donned my sandals. I felt better instantly! From snow to sun! The first thing on my list to do was to scope out the festival on the University of Arizona campus, right after some spicy Mexican food, of course. 😉
To be continued…

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