CRAP!  I guess I shut down too soon and this post didn't acutally get published.  And I just now noticed it!  Oh well, at least it was saved and is getting posted now (almost a week late).  And so you know, my flight finally took off at about 8:40 PM last Friday night.

Harold Wong

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Okay, I am sitting here in the Denver Airport at 7:30 PM trying to catch a flight home on United Airlines - my original flight was scheduled for 5:55 PM on US Airways.  As I reflect back on this week, I've come to the definite conclusion that this has got to be the WORST week of travel I have had in years (if not ever)!!!

Let's look back on Monday, February 12th.  I finish up my Exchange webcast at about 1:50 PM, finish packing and head out to the airport.  There is enough traffic on the road that I arrive at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport at about 2:55 PM for a 4:05 PM flight to Albuquerque, NM.  I make a last minute call that there is not enough time to park in long term parking so I pull into the parking garage at Terminal 4 and pay my outrageous $20 / day for parking.  I finally get through security and arrive at the gate only to find the flight is actually delayed and I could have saved money by parking in long term parking - oh well.  We finally arrive and I find a piece of good news - Avis has upgraded me to a very nice Jeep SUV (good thing too since it ended up snowing).

On Tuesday, February 13th, I arrive at the Hilton to deliver my morning IT Pro Windows Vista / Office 2007 / Exchange 2007 Launch session and get my laptops all setup.  Things are looking good and I'm hopeful that all will go well.  But that was not to be.  At 7:55 AM, I realize one of my laptops has locked up solid and there was no reviving it without a hard shut down and reboot.  After the reboot, it is now 8:03 AM and Benny Madrid has already started the Kick Off for the morning.  I work like a madman to reboot all my virtual machines for my first session - Desktop Deployment of Windows Vista and Office 2007.  At about 8:25 AM, I am ready to go - but some things are still not working - such as my Windows XP / Office 2003 VM that I am planning to refresh to Windows Vista and Office 2007.  No matter what I do, I cannot get the virtual network to load inside the VM.  Failed attempt after failed attempt, I finally decide to perform the refresh using the other Windows XP / Office 2003 image that I had upgraded to Office 2007 only so that I could at least show the refresh process.  We (Paul Baird and I) finally get through the rough morning of technical difficulties!!!

On Wednesday, February 14th, I wake up at 3:45 AM and decide to stay up since my alarm was set for 4 AM anyways.  I get ready and head out to the airport for a 6 AM flight back to Phoenix.  Unfortunately for me, it is snowing.  Tim Heuer (DPE out of Phoenix) and I get to the gate A4 thinking that was the gate we were departing out of.  At 5:25 AM, we get REALLY concerned when no gate agents have shown up and we are still the only passengers sitting at the gate.  We are relieved to see the crew arrive shortly thereafter, but they are also concerned.  Luckily, an employee (I think from United) told us we were departing out of gate B3 so we all rush over there and sure enough, the plane is there along with the gate agents and other passengers.  We finally board the plane (fully boarded) only to find out that the runways have been closed due to snow and the inability of the airport crew to keep the tarmac clean enough for a safe takeoff.  At 8:10 AM, we are finally told the flight has been cancelled and we are all ushered off the plane.  We immediately dash to gate A4 for the 8:40 AM flight.  At 10 AM, we are still not boarding and I hear the Southwest flights starting to board.  Lo and behold, I hear the roar of a plane engine and see a Southwest flight take off.  At about 10:15, the gate agent makes an announcement that the conditions are still not safe enough for us to take off and if all goes well, we will be boarding in about an hour.  At that moment in time, I happen to see yet another Southwest plane take off.  I'm totally confused about "safe" conditions or lack of them since I just saw a second Southwest plane take off.  Oh well - Tim and I decide to go have us some breakfast.  Too late, breakfast stopped serving at 10 AM so we have an early lunch.  We get back to the gate just in time to hear that they are now boarding (this is about 11:10 AM).  At about 12:15 PM, we finally pull away from the gate and get in line for de-icing.  1:15 PM, de-icing is finally complete and we take off!!!  By the way, did I mention that I had a 12:30 PM Exchange webcast???  Needless to say, I missed it.  Luckily, my team mate, Bryan Von Axelson was able to cover for me seeing as how I was on an airplane.  I finally land and get off the plane around 2:40 PM, rush out to my car to drop off some stuff and get some clean clothes for Thursday and Friday.  Go back through security and head over to my gate to catch a 3:45 PM flight to Denver.  Arrive at gate (A21) to see "DELAYED"!!!  Crap!!!!  I go the club and ask and am told the inbound flight is coming from San Francisco and isn't scheduled to arrive until 6 PM.  They agree to reticket me on the 5:24 PM flight out to Denver so I rest for a little bit and start heading for the new gate (B21 or something like that).  Before leaving, another traveler in the same boat as me notices that our 3:45 PM flight is now scheduled to leave at 5:01 PM out of gate A2.  WHAT?????!!!!  We ask and are told that Operations pulled a different plane to service this flight so we immediately get our tickets changed back to our original seats and make a mad rush to gate A2 (it is now 4:40 PM).  I get there in time to jump on board and barely find a spot for my carry on.  We finally take off around 5:35 PM and land in Denver at about 7 PM.  By the time I get my car (an H3) and get to my hotel it is now 8 PM.  I get my roomie and team mate, Rob Bagby, to go eat dinner with me and then we call it a night.

I wake up at 4 AM on Thursday, February 15th to go through the process of booting up all the necessary Virtual Machines and placing them into saved state so that I’ll be ready to go during the morning event.  At about 5:35 AM, Rob and I check out of our hotel and start walking over to the Convention Center.  Of course, I have to make my stop at the nearby Starbucks to pick up my triple venti soy mocha (no whip and extra hot).  Walking from Starbucks to the Convention Center, my hand was freezing cold (this is the hand holding the steaming hot cup of mocha!!).  We arrive at the Convention Center and I get my laptops setup and ready to go.  I also check the weather and find out it is a nice balmy 5 degrees – crap it is cold!!!  8 AM rolls around and Benny Madrid (Desert Mountain Area Sales Manager) kicks off the morning for me and everything goes smoothly.  All my demos work and I even finish on time.  5 PM rolls around and we are done for the day and Rob and I head back to the hotel to pick up our cars.  I had put my suitcase into the trunk of Rob’s car since it is hidden from public view.  We get back to his car and I drop my backpack into his trunk and get ready to climb into the passenger seat so Rob can drive me around to my car.  Next thing I hear, is Rob being quite angry with himself.  What’s wrong???  It would seem Rob locked his car keys in the trunk of his car!!!  Wonderful – things must have been going too smoothly today since both Rob and I didn’t have any hardware or Virtual PC / Virtual Server issues like we had in every other city.  Luckily I have a AAA membership and I make my call and we wait for the service guy to show up and break into the car for us.  Luckily for us, we only had to wait about 35 minutes and we were good to go.  We finally make it for dinner at Maggiano’s down south and call it a night.

I wake up a little late on Friday, February 16th, but still make it to the office by 8 AM (after a quick stop at Starbucks).  We get done with our Vista Loadfest event and I get ready for my webcast at 12:30 PM.  After finishing the webcast, it’s a little too late to rush to the airport to make the 2:57 PM US Airways flight home, so I go ahead and take my time finishing up a few things before I head out for my 5:55 PM US Airways flight home.  I remember to do a web check-in, but kept getting errors.  I finally call in for help and find out my 5:55 PM flight is cancelled and the last flight at 7:53 PM is already oversold.  They tell me they will confirm me on the first flight home on Saturday morning.  Unacceptable!!!!!!  I head over to the airport anyways and see what can be done.  I ask at the counter if they can put me on standby with another airline (like United or Frontier) so that I can get home that night.  They tell me that is not possible so I finally get them to let me standby on the 7:53 PM flight (they tell me chances are slim to none on that happening) and I get through security.  At the gate, I’m told they can let me fly standby with Frontier with no additional costs so I quickly head over to the Frontier gates.  In the meantime, I call the Platinum reservations line and ask for some “real” assistance.  Needless to say, I don’t make the Frontier flight (but neither did at least 10 other people waiting on standby).  After about 35 minutes of being on hold, the US Airways agent tells me she can book me on a United flight departing at 7:39 PM.  Woo Hoo!!!  I take her up on that immediately and head over to the United gate.  Of course United has cancelled and delayed flights out the wazoo as well (weather related from east coast).  No problem, that gave me time to type out this blog post to vent my frustrations over what must be the WORST travel week I have ever had!  Luckily, my flight was delayed so I had time to finish writing this.