A quick flight to Melbourne followed by a L-O-N-G but reasonably uneventful flight to LA – approx 14 hours. The only problem was we left late and then took a while before we could land and then taxi in which meant our flight was an hour late.
Due to the fact that the San Francisco part of the trip came after the original booking of the flights to LA, we didn’t have a connecting flight to LA, just a separate flight, with a two hour window, which meant we had to clear customs, collect luggage and board the next flight – all within two hours. Bad planning.
So, being an hour late and then customs taking F-O-R-E-V-E-R and us missing the valuable orange ticket that got you fast tracked if you had a connecting flight (Jay did suggest we should have asked about them, which I did but WAY too late) meant that we collected our luggage at about the time we should have been boarding the flight.
Then there was the monumental walk between terminals with a 14kg backpack on our backs after a 18 hours in travel and transit time. We tried, we really did, but by the time we made it to Virgin Amercia, we had missed the flight. Here we are thinking “at least it is still Virgin, so they will be able to arrange a quick flight to San Francisco easily – right”? Wrong. For starters, Virgin Australia and Virgin America are not associated. Silly us to think otherwise. Second of all, it is Saturday and nearly all flights are completely booked (and they overbook flights here).
So after our very long walk to Virgin America, they tell us there are two options, we can go on a standby flight at 2pm, but there is no assurance we will get a seat, or we can get a ticketed flight at 11pm, which will mean we will miss the basketball – the whole reason we were going to Oakland .- remember, Oakland accommodation and basketball are two of the only four things booked at this stage….
So, we get tickets for the 11pm flight, with the plan that we will head BACK to the terminal we just tracked from to demand that they get us on another flight. Back we trek and the VERY inexperienced assistant clacks away on her keyboard and tells us she can’t find our booking, even though I had given her the Virgin America flight details I had printed before we left home. She keeps clacking on her keyboard and still nothing. More clacking, more nothing. The very little patience we started with is quickly evaporating… Finally, the more experienced assistant comes to help and says instantly – Virgin America? We’re not associated with them, that’s why we can’t find your booking. We go on to say, yes, but it was your flight being late that was the reason we missed our flight and they can only get us on an 11pm flight which will mean we will miss the game we have paid hundreds of dollars to see. Sorry, there is nothing we can do if we don’t have access to your flight information we can’t transfer you to another flight. We explained we had already been down that path and they had checked all the flights that they were associated with and the only option was the 11pm flight. We then asked which flights they weren’t associated with and something kept telling me we needed to go to Southwest. Southwest had been recommended on Trip Advisor as a great airline for internal US travel. Lots of affordable flights and the first two checked bags were free. By this time we were thinking that we would do anything to make it to the game, even pay for new tickets. I asked if Virgin America were associated with Southwest and she said No.
We were all pretty despondent. Jay said “it looks like we aren’t going to make the game, so let’s just go with the 11pm flight because at least we know we have seats on that”. We were flying in to San Francisco and our accommodation was in Oakland. That was easily workable during the day, but arriving at the airport after midnight and then trying to get to Oakland to get to our accommodation after missing the game? That sounded horrendous. Maybe we could fly straight to Oakland, which is really close to where our accommodation was….??
Southwest kept coming to mind. So I said, let’s just get to the Southwest counter and see what they can do and if that doesn’t work then, yes, we take the 11pm flight and give up on the idea of making the basketball.. The terminal is the next one over, so not too far to walk. The boys sit down with our bags and I go to the counter. An Angel in Los Angeles – a big, black man with a friendly face and a big smile listens to my story and says, “lets see what we can do”. He then starts talking about delayed flights and transfers and San Francisco and Oakland and gets increasingly urgent in his tone. He has to repeat it a few times, but I finally get it and I signal to the boys to bring the bags as I’m handing over the credit card.
Turns out Southwest Airlines have a policy that if any flight is delayed more than 15 minutes, they will transfer you to any other flight at no cost. So, what this clever man had worked out is that there was a flight to San Francisco that was delayed. If he quickly booked us seats on that flight, that we had to pay US$133 each for, he could then transfer us to the flight direct to Oakland, which had three spare seats on it, at no extra cost. That’s what he did. So, all of a sudden, the basketball was back on! AND we were flying direct to Oakland, which meant we didn’t have to then get from San Francisco to Oakland, which would have probably cost us another $50 or so, plus all the time and energy. Yeah Baby! Problem solving Master points to Southwest Airlines, and trusting instinct Master points to me!!
A quick flight with a pleasant chat to Austin on one side of me (who didn’t believe that Eucalyptus trees were Australian and a lovely lady (who’s name I didn’t get) that was from Texas on the other side of me and we were in Oakland. We collected our baggage (something I took for granted until I arrived in Hawaii four weeks later) took a cab with a grumpy cab driver, where Bruce tried to sit in the drivers seat first and then went to the passenger seat and he grumbled “no” and so we all squeezed in the back. A 10 minute cab ride, check in, change of clothes and we were off walking to the stadium like everything had gone completely according to plan!
A selfie in front of the stadium:
We go to “at call” and pick up our tickets (I remembered to bring the credit card I used and then they didn’t ask for it). Tickets in hand and we’re in!
Free Golden State Warriors t-shirts on our seats a very welcome surprise. We confirm that Steph Curry is still injured and sitting on the sidelines – insert sad face. I took a photo of him still, at least he was in the building (circled below).
I found lime vodka cocktails (yummo), Bruce accidentally puts chilli sauce on his hot dog (yowzer) and Jay and I share a nachos with nothing but corn chips and cheese sauce, very dull …
The Warriors lost, but what a great night. Such a spectacle with drummers, contortionists and dancers in the breaks. So glad we made it. Shame that we aren’t going to be in the right place to go to a playoff game (although the wallet is thanking us).
We walked back to the Hotel after the game, Jay learnt all about what marijuana smells like because it was everywhere – including billowing out of cars. We got back to the room and then we slept for 15 hours.
Once we finally surfaced the next day, we found a T-Mobile and bought SIM cards for the three of us for the month. Jay was overjoyed with having unlimited data. We then discovered the Double Double at In and Out…. Uh Oh.