Tripus Interruptus

We're on our way to Hawaii to research and photograph everything we can for our upcoming book, The Healthy Trekking Guide to Kauai. Well, sort of. At this moment, we should be at 30,000 ft. half way across the Pacific Ocean. We would be if not for a mistake by an American Airlines gate agent in Terminal 4 at LAX. Her error caused us to miss our flight, and now, we won't be able to leave LAX until this evening on a different flight.

At the moment, we're waiting out the delay at the wonderful American Airlines Admirals Club, where we purchased a day pass to avoid the insanity of Terminal 4. With the expansion of the LAX Bradley International Terminal, American is remodeling some of the gates in Terminal 4, including Gate 45, where our flight early this morning was scheduled to depart. As the photo atop this page portrays, it's a mess.

The first hint of a problem was that our travel apps showed we were departing from Gate 212, not Gate 45. The reason: passengers would be put on a shuttle bus to where the plane was parked. So, we arrived in plenty of time and got in line to board when called. Add to that our flight was never called. Instead, we only heard, "Final boarding for Flight 265 from Gate 45 departing now." Huh?

When we reached the gate agent, we showed our boarding passes and explicitly stated that we were on the flight to Lihue, Kauai, Hawaii. The agent nodded and told us to proceed to the shuttle bus, which we did. What we discovered however was that she had directed to a shuttle bus taking us to an American Airlines commuter terminal for a flight to San Diego. Panic set in immediately. We knew instantly that we were totally screwed.

 They're not kidding. Gate 45 is confusing at best. We were directed by an American Airlines gate agent to a commuter flight, NOT our flight to Kauai, even after explicitly stating that was our destination.

They're not kidding. Gate 45 is confusing at best. We were directed by an American Airlines gate agent to a commuter flight, NOT our flight to Kauai, even after explicitly stating that was our destination.

After pleading with a shuttle bus driver, she made a valiant effort to get us back to Terminal 4 in time to catch our plane, but alas, it was in vain. Our morning flight had already pushed back from its actual gate. We then nervously waited to speak to an American Airlines customer service manager to book another flight. At first, it appeared that we would not get to Lihue until Monday, which would make us miss interviews for the book and an all-day photography workshop Brian booked to photograph the island.

Thankfully, we were able to get on an evening flight. Despite the late arrival and a very long day (we woke up at 3:30 am this morning for our AM flight today), we'll be able to make our schedule for a very busy Monday. 

A wonderful lunch in the Admirals Club, along with the welcome peace and quiet the club offers compared to the maelstrom of Terminal 4 made the $100 fee with every penny. In fact, after hearing our story, the Admirals Club manager comped us breakfast and lunch vouchers, and cut our admission fee in half.

If you have the time, the Admirals Club is worth it. From quiet, beautiful surroundings, to fast WiFi, the great food, showers, work areas with plenty of electrical outlets, as well as excellent spots for relaxing, the Admirals Club is a peaceful oasis from the rest of LAX. Given that we have to wait nine hours for our flight, we could do far worse.

 The Admirals Club in Terminal 4 at LAX. Worth every penny.

The Admirals Club in Terminal 4 at LAX. Worth every penny.

To sum up: Terminal 4, especially Gate 45, BAD. Inattentive American Airlines gate agents: BAD. (American even posts an advisory for passengers having to transit via Gate 45. And for good reason.) Admirals Club: GOOD. Helpful American and Admirals Club customer service staff: GOOD. 

Hopefully, we have all the bad trip karma out of the way. Our nerves are pretty shot, and we have a long day ahead. Thankfully, some very helpful people at American worked to fix our problem, and the wait is as comfortable as we can make it. And with a good lunch, our blood pressure is almost back to normal.

So the adventure begins. Stay tuned for more.

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