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eTail West Adventure - Part 1 - A Snowy Start

I am back from my adventures at eTail West and enjoyed myself immensely. The eTail conference series are among the best out there and this particular conference was one of the best I’ve attended. The folks who run it and organize it know what they are doing. While I was out there I attended some sessions, visited a lot of booths, and met a lot of great people. I’m going to talk all about that soon enough, but the focus of these first few posts was the adventure to get out there.

I awoke at about 3:30 am on Tuesday, February 17th to make my very early fight to Palm Springs California. The morning started with about 5 inches of snow on the ground and on my car. After brushing it off, I slowly went through secondary streets towards the Philadelphia International Airport. The roads were slippery and only slightly plowed, but I slowly made it there and parked in long term parking. I left my heavy winter coat in my car, as Palm Springs isn’t a winter coat setting.

I hopped a well timed shuttle bus to the airport, went through security without having to explain a pith helmet, and to my gate with no problem what so ever. I spent the next 90 minutes sitting in a chair watching snow plows race down the runway keeping the snow clear for planes. With the flight sold out, there was no more overhead compartment room so I had to check my bag containing camera equipment and my pith helmet. I then promptly boarded the plane and got into my seat.

Then I sat.

I sat for 90 minutes as they deiced the plane. This would have been fine, but I had a connection in Denver and the window for me to make the flight was only about 80 minutes. Once we took off I hopped onto United Airlines wifi and began to tweet my plight to United and just about everyone else. Over the course of two paid hours of internet use, it was pretty clear I was going to miss my flight and no one seemed to have an idea what I’d be doing next.

I landed in snowy Denver and was alerted by my United iPhone app that I had missed my flight by “zero minutes.” So I, along with 80+ other people who missed connections trudged over to the United help desk for a solution. When I arrived I was promptly informed that there were no seats to Palm Springs for a good 24 to 36 hours. I could fly on standby, but it was anyone’s guess if that would work. The only guaranteed seat I had was a 7pm flight to Los Angeles, which put me in the same state as Palm Springs, but still 2 hours away by car.

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.

(To be continued...)

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