1. Arrive at Pittsburgh Airport at 4:00 for 5:45 flight and enjoy a coffee. Watch how quickly this goes bad, dear reader, and see if you can catch the twist at the end of the story beforehand.

2. Walk over to security. Realize flight has been delayed 1.5 hours. Go have a smoke or few.

3. Get ready to go through security again. Notice a pattern of American Airlines adding a half hour to departure estimate every half hour. Continue to smoke, continue to drink coffee, and buy a sandwich from a newsstand, since that is all there is to eat before security. After 4 delays, question whether the flight will leave at all.

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4. After 4 hours of delays, the flight is scheduled to leave at 10. This one seems to stick. Go to security at 8:40 and pull up boarding pass on phone. Or more specifically, pull up a “we’re sorry, we’re having a problem displaying this page” error from American Airlines. Oops. Get denied passage.

5. Go up to ticketing. Use the kiosk. “We’re having a problem with this reservation, please see an agent.” (Find out later that the kiosk would need to regenerate a new boarding pass, which it is not allowed to do after scheduled boarding, let alone 4hr later.) Promptly walk to the ticketing counter for a boarding pass, which is closed.

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6. Immediately call AA. Wait on hold. Walk to TSA and ask what to do. They say go talk to someone in baggage services. Realize this is indeed a lot of baggage.

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7. Walk across the whole damn airport to baggage services, who says to try the counter. Explain it is closed. They say they will try to print the pass but their printer hasn’t worked in 6 weeks. Splendid.

8. Finally hear from customer service who explains I shouldn’t be in baggage services but at the counter. After a recap of the situation they suggest “finding a team member at a different location but not baggage services.” Explain (less than calmly) the only team members left in the airport are on the secure side of the check point, and that to talk to them I would also need to be on the secure side of the checkpoint, which would require I have a boarding pass. Ask if they see a problem since it is now 45 mins till takeoff for a flight I waited 5 hours to board. Get transferred and put on hold.

9. Baggage services puts out a general page to the whole airport. They say wait at the ticket counter. Eventually hear from customer service that they’ve instructed a gate agent to meet me there as well. Go back to ticketing.

10. After 15 mins, surprise, no one comes. Airport security comes by, who puts out a second general page. No one comes. It is now 25 mins till takeoff.

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11. A woman comes by who asks why you seem so frazzled. Indulge the request. She replies “oh wait you’re still here? I met you in the news kiosk 4 hours ago.” Strike up a conversation, which draws the attention of patrolling county police, as a passenger and a news kiosk employee chatting at an empty American Airlines ticket counter is somewhat unusual. Both offer to help since it is 20 mins to takeoff. The PD goes to baggage services, the news stand employee offers to cross security and try to retrieve a printed pass at the gate. Ponder the purpose of American Airlines.

12. The PD comes back quickly with a baggage services member waving a boarding pass. 15 mins till showtime. They put a gate hold on the plane, and the PD offers an escort through security so as not to miss the flight.

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13. Sweating profusely, fly through security. Laptop out shoes off bags on rollers slam it all through. Get dressed and grab the bags, because that plane isn’t waiting forever. Shake hands with PD and book it.

14. Arrive at gate. Scheduled departure already pushed back to 10:25. Because of course.

15. Board plane at 10:25. Wait. Wait. Wait. At 11, captain informs you that the plane will taxi and sit on the Tarmac to burn fuel for 40 mins as they overfilled it and it is now overweight.

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16. Airborne at 11:45, 6 hours late. Sit on plane through not one not two but three attempted landings into LaGuardia before they finally get it at 1:30, 6.5 hours late.

17. Be glad this shit is finally over. Grab the bags, and the... the... hmm...... something is missing. You know you had it when... But...

[retracing steps]

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[”laptop out shoes off bags on rollers slam it all through. Get dressed and grab the bags...”]

[”...grab the bags...”]

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Ah, shit.