Alright so here was my last 72 hours of chaos and the lessons learned in my attempt to get Steel and I to Europe on a budget. At 7:30 pm the evening before Steel and I planned to leave for Paris (we’re flying standby), a friend was available to help me pick up a bicycle box from a local bicycle shop to pack up Steel and my gear. I already had one box packed, and so I just needed to put Steel and the rest of my gear into the bicycle box – an hour max packing! I read on the United Airline’s website that I could have two checked items (including boxes), but to fly free each needed to be under 50 pounds. However, I failed to take note of the dimensions –major goof!! Each box could be no more than 62 linear inches which was much smaller than either box I had.
After some dinner, I returned home at about 9 p.m. to discover this major problem. I was faced with an extra cost to me of $200 each way. Thus, began my efforts to cut up and tape together two boxes that were acceptable, and completely dismantle my bicycle (I stripped Steel down to the frame). At 2 am, I realized that all my gear and the bicycle where simply not going to fit in to these two boxes. I might add that I also smacked my head twice (once hard –bringing me to tears), stepped on a staple (also shed a couple tears, but was able to stopthe gushing -foot that is) and continued on with the show. The fail on the bicycle boxes, meant that first thing in the morning, I would need to borrow my friend’s car to go and find another bicycle box (since I cut up the original one) and just pack up the bike as I originally planned, and get to airport in time for our flight and pay the $200.
At about 7 am, my mind potentially solved the problem and I sprung out of bed. I was having trouble fitting some of my gear in the boxes, but I had not thought to take some of it apart. Once I started unrolling things and stuffing, I got everything to fit into the 2 boxes, plus my 2 big rear bicycle bags and a small backpack for a carry-on (one more bag than allowed). In the end, one box was about 2″ over size and I technically had 3 carry-ons, so I was still mentally prepared to get dinged the extra $200 bag charge. The stars aligned as the agent took my boxes with no problem (they were under weight -I guess that’s more important), and I lucked out on the carry-on items. However, I ultimately did not get on the oversold flight. Now what? I had not slept much the two prior nights, plus the stress, and well, my mind was not computing well.
Up next insert the guardian angel flight attendant who was working the gate. She kindly explained how I might go about sleeping in the airport (unbelievably SF airport has a “Reflection Room” lounge open to the public (if you can find it) until 11:30 p.m. and offers showers for a fee!), and actually walked me (no kidding) through the airport to another counter to give me a discounted hotel pass if I wanted to go that route. After sleeping in the Reflection room for about 15 mins, I called on a hotel. I hit my breaking point and opted for a discounted hotel room at a Best Western. Oh My…I have never ever been so happy to enter a hotel room…and it was nice! I just felt so relieved to have my own space, a comfy kingsized bed, soft sheets, pillows…a hot shower. It was sheer bliss! Timing is everything…and I was never so appreciate for such small luxuries. Tomorrow would be a new day! I can do this…