Getting to Readercon

During the writers hangout last night, Mary Robinette Kowal announced to the lot of us that her flight to Readercon today had been canceled and that she’d been booked on another flight. She doesn’t have the best of luck when it come to travel. I, on the other hand, have had unusually good luck with my travel and I went to bed last night anticipating smooth sailing up to Boston.

I was wakened at 4am to that all-too-familiar email chime. (I was using my iPad as an alarm clock) and discovered that by noon flight to Boston had already been canceled. Eight hours before the flight. Because of an equipment problem. I skimmed through the rest of my email and found that I had been automatically rebooked on at 3pm flight. Not ideal, but it would still get me to the hotel in time to eat something before my first panel at 8pm. I went back to sleep.

Kelly and the Little Man are in Florida, so I was home alone and for the first time in a very long time, I was able to sleep in. Normally we are up before 7am regardless of the day of the week. I slept in until 9:30. When I finally pulled myself out of bed, showered, and headed downstairs, it was 10am and I found an email from United saying that my 3pm flight was now delayed until 4pm because of late arriving equipment. Well, a 4pm departure would mean a 5:30 arrival in Boston, smack in the midst of rush hour. I might barely make it to the hotel in time for my panel.

I called United and asked to speak to an agent. They were experiencing “unusually high call volumes” (when are they not) and my wait time was 20 minutes. I waited. And waited. Finally, close to 20 minutes later, I got a person on the phone. I explained my dilemma and asked if I could be transferred to a flight out of Reagan instead of Dulles. I was put on hold again for several minutes, but when the agent came back, she told me I’d been transferred to the 1:30 pm US Airways flight out of Reagan. She gave me a confirmation number and everything was set.

By now it was already 11:30. I don’t live far from Reagan, so I headed out. On the way there, however, a flaw in my plan came to light. I was driving to Reagan, but I was returning to Dulles. My car would be at Reagan, but I would not. I thought quickly. I work very close to Reagan, so I decided to park at work and take the Metro the two stops to the airport. Kelly could pick me up at Dulles. We would drive into work together on Modnay and we could drive home separately. Problem solve.

I got to Reagan, and tried checking in at one of the US Airways kiosks. I got an error message and the attendant told me to go up to ticketing. I went to the US Airways shuttle ticketing and was told that while I had a reservation, I didn’t have a ticket. They needed a ticket number. They sent me up to United.

Off I went across the airport to the United ticket counter. I explained the situation. The agent told me that he didn’t know what US Airways problem was, since the ticket had been issued correctly. But he gave me a printout that contained the ticket number and sent me on my way.

I dashed back to the US Airways counter and presented my ticket number–and a few minutes later, I had a ticket!

The flight departed on time and was uneventful thereafter.

As it turned out, Mary Robinette Kowal was flying out of Reagan on a different airline, but only 15 minutes before me. I offered to give her a ride to the hotel and so we met at Hertz and drove into the Readercon hotel together. What a difference it makes to do that drive with someone to talk to. There was traffic but the time went by quickly. Before we knew it, we’d arrived at the hotel.

I checked in, got my room, freshened up and then wandered briefly. I ran into Barry Malzberg almost at once, and we chatted for a few minutes. I was hungry so I went to the pub in the hotel and got a pulled pork sandwich and a beer. The pub grew steadily more crowded. I ran into Scott Edelman there, as well as Paul Di Filippo and Liz Hand. As I was finishing up, John Joseph Adams stopped by to invite me to an Ellen Datlow reading in Cambridge–but I couldn’t go. My panel is at 8pm and that would have cut things too close for comfort.

I am now sitting in the hotel lobby, writing this post, and getting ready for my 8pm panel on “We all produce/we call consume”. After that, I’m going to a panel on the Scott Meredith Literary Agency and after that…who knows?

But as always, I will be tweeting, blogging and posting pictures throughout the convention so that those who can’t make it can at least get a bit of the flavor of what’s going on at Readercon this year.

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