My wallet was under the seat
I just got back from giving a lecture in Indiana, and along the way, I lost my wallet. I learned some pretty valuable travel lessons that I thought I would pass on to you.
How I Lost My Wallet
I fly from my town in North Carolina to the US Airways hub in Charlotte, NC, then on to whatever my destination might be. This time, as I mentioned, it was Indiana.
The plane had just landed in Charlotte and was taxiing down the runway. I put my purse in the seat beside me to get some stuff out. The pilot slammed on the brakes and my bag went flying forward, spilling a lot of the contents. Apparently my wallet ended up hiding under the seat, and I didn’t see it.
LESSON: Always check to make sure you have your wallet. Duh.
The Taxi Ride
When I arrived at the hotel and tried to pay the taxi driver, I realized my wallet was missing. Fortunately I had $100 bill in my purse that didn’t make it into my wallet.
LESSON: Always keep some cash outside of your wallet (in case you lose your wallet).
Getting In the Hotel
This was Indiana, home of incredible hospitality. I’m from the south and we pride ourselves on our hospitality, but we have nothing on Indiana! The hotel staff was incredibly kind. They looked up the number to the airline for me so I could call and start tracing my wallet. And, because I had reserved the room with a credit card they had a method of payment on file. So, they let me right in the room. I was able to charge food and beverages to my room so I could at least eat something.
LESSON: Always reserve your room with a credit card, even if the hotel doesn’t require one.
Looking for Money
I knew if I could find a branch of my bank in town, I could go get a temporary debit card. I use two different banks, and unfortunately neither one had a branch in Indianapolis. I did call Chase, as I have a credit card with them. They said they could probably help me somehow if I had i.d. My i.d. was in my wallet. Which was lost.
LESSON: Always carry a back up copy of your id., or store one one your phone.
Getting Some Cash… Finally
I was finally able to borrow $100 from someone I knew at the conference. That was going to be plenty of money for me to get home on. I had $60 in my wallet left out of the $100 bill I gave the cab driver. SO, for $160 I thought I was good. I had lunch at the hotel and charged it to my room. Then I left the hotel.
I took a taxi to the airport, that was $40. I had a couple of beers at the airport, that was $20. I had $100 left.
Then, a huge storm slammed down on the midwest and my flight was cancelled. The soonest flight they could get me on was 24 hours later. I checked on going into a different airport and renting a car… I got the gate agent to change my flight. Oh wait, I had $100, no credit cards, no i.d. They don’t rent cars to people with no credit car and no drivers license. $%$&!@#.
The desk agent had to change my flight back to the original one. She gave me two wrapped chocolate chip cookies because she felt so sorry for me. She was so nice I gave her a $20 tip for helping me. Now I had $80.
I took a taxi back to the hotel, which cost me another $40. I got to the hotel, explained the situation, and they were able to retrieve my credit card number from my previous booking and they put me in a room. They even gave me the really good convention rate for the room of $149, even though rooms at that time were going for well over $200 a night. So, I had a place to stay. And, I could charge food and drinks to the room again. But, by the time I paid for the cab back I was down to $40 and still had another 24+ hours to travel.
I had two friends at the convention. One of them gave me $100 and even bought me a stiff drink.
LESSON: Be nice to hotel staff, gate agents, and people in general. You never know when you’ll need a favor.
LESSON: Carry one credit card in a safe location away from your wallet or purse. That way if you lose your wallet or purse, you can still get home without begging and borrowing.
The gate agent told me to come on in to the airport early the next day, as there were several flights I might be able to get on standby for. So, even though I didn’t have a flight until 5:00 p.m., I was there at 8:00 and hopped in line for an earlier flight. I got one at noon to my destination hub, Charlotte, NC. I still had to wait until 10:30 that night for my connecting flight home, but, they have a nice Admiral’s Club for American/US Air in the Charlotte airport and I had a free pass for that. I figured it was best to get there and wait on my next flight.
Now, the fun part was getting through security with no identification. They wanted two pieces of identification, and they would accept any kind of piece of mail, a check, etc. I had NOTHING but one prescription in my purse. Without two pieces of i.d. they had to take me aside, call Washington, D.C. and run a background check on me. The Feds wanted to know 1) how long I lived at my current address, 2) where I worked, 3) where I worked previously, 4) my birthdate, 5) the make, model and year of my car. Yes, they “knew” all that about me, and I have no criminal record and no federal security clearance. Creepy.
Once I cleared that hurdle, I had to go through a complete and total pat-down by TSA. Yes, they felt up my boobs, my inner thighs, etc. My bags were searched thoroughly inside and out and tested for explosives. I will say they were all super nice and very professional, I just wonder if the one who felt me up will call me?
I finally got on the flight to Charlotte at 12:05 p.m.
LESSON: Always carry two pieces of back-up identification with you outside your wallet or purse. A check, a copy of your drivers license, etc.
Weather Is Unpredictable
Weather in Charlotte prohibited us from landing. We were rerouted to an airport 30 minutes away. By then I was so happy that I had carried a supply of mini-bottles of liquor in my purse that I made myself a cocktail. It was soothing. I shared them with some of my fellow travelers.
LESSON: Always carry mini bottles of liquor with you when you travel. They are cheaper than what the airline sells and you’ll make friends wherever you go.
Flying Standby, Part Deux
As I was cooling my heels in the Charlotte Airport, I got an e-mail from the airline. In their system they still had me shown on the 5:00 flight. The e-mail said, “Your 5:00 flight from Indianapolis to Charlotte has been cancelled due to weather. You are rebooked for a 5:15 a.m. flight tomorrow….”
I was SO happy I had gotten on that earlier fight to Charlotte! Otherwise I would have been yet another day trying to get home.
LESSON: Always get the earliest possible flight you can to wherever you’re going. You never know when the next one might be cancelled.
Home, Sweet Home
I finally got home at 1:00 a.m. My dogs were so happy to see me and I have never been so happy to arrive at my abode! The airline found my wallet, by the way, and it is en route back to me via Fed Ex. People are still good and decent and honest, contrary to what you may have heard.
LESSON: There’s no place like home!