The next problem had nothing to do with the government but with American Express.
Charlie made our flight reservations through an American Express (https://travel.americanexpress.com/home) travel agent. She, very explicitly, wanted to fly British Airways (https://www.britishairways.com/travel/home/public/en_us) and was assured by the travel agent that our flight to the UK was on BA. It turned out, however, that the BA flight, operated by American Airlines, was actually an American Airlines (https://www.aa.com/homePage.do) flight.
BOOM! The fecal matter met the rapidly spinning rotary impeller.
She proceeded to spend many, many hours on the phone with BA and AA and AMEX trying to find out how they would handle her battery-powered scooter (http://www.tzora.com/Easy%2DTravel%2DScooter.html) and batteries and whether it would be allowed on the flight at all. Phone tag played with customer service representatives shunting her off to the next company’s customer service representative. And round and round we go unable to get definitive answers to just about any substantive question. Phone Tag Hell.
Eventually, it boiled down to: Yes, she could bring her scooter. No, no spare batteries. No, bring the sealed dry-cell battery and not the longer-range lithium-ion battery. Yes, the plane check-in and departure would be from the Tom Bradley International terminal at LAX. Well, sort of . . .
Thursday — We arrived at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport — http://www.lawa.org/welcomeLAX.aspx) about two and a half hours before our scheduled departure and entered the Tom Bradley International terminal. Looking at the displays, we, to my wife’s great displeasure found that our flight’s check-in was not at TB but at the next terminal in line — Terminal #4.
It was the matter of a three-minute walk, for me with our luggage and Charlie on her scooter, to get to Terminal 4 and then a couple of more minutes to find check-in. Five minutes later we were at the front of the short line and spent the next ten or twenty minutes going through the formalities with boarding passes, luggage and scooter and sorting things out.
Then on to the lift, elevator, and through security — less than ten minutes in line. I went through the regular line while Charlie, seated in her scooter, got some individual attention. Following this was a l – o – n – g hike (especially as I was carrying all of our carry-on bags) across the bridge from Terminal 4 to TB and the very last gate to board our plane.
Less than fifteen minutes later we were pre-boarded and ensconced in our Business Class lay-down seats. The only hassles being removing the twenty-pound battery from Charlie’s scooter and folding it up so the attendant could put it in cargo (while I put the battery in my seat storage area on the plane’s floor). I then returned to the front of the plane and helped Charlie through the aisles to our seats at the very back of Business Class (right in front of the toilet so Charlie would not have to walk any distance when she would need the facilities).
As I also had the battery charger with me (no, it was not packed away in our luggage), I was able to re-charge it during the flight. Clothes can be replaced without too many problems if the carrier loses our luggage. Her scooter charger and her medicines would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace if lost on the way to Europe so they were all a part of our carry-on luggage with our electronics and cameras.
The plane was a Boeing 777-300 (https://www.aa.com/i18n/travel-info/experience/planes/boeing-777-300er.jsp) with comfortable seating and an excellent entertainment suite. Charlie took the window seat, and I got the interior seat with no outside view (dirty word, dirty word, dirty word). But that’s how it is when we travel.
Although Business Class is quite expensive compared with Coach, Di’s medical problems do not allow her to travel comfortably in Coach seating. As we do not travel by plane more than a couple of times each decade, we find the expense tolerable and can juggle our budgets sufficiently to afford the expense. I cringe a bit when looking at the actual financial figures, but . . . .
(to be continued)