It was after 11PM by the time I got into my hotel room. It is after midnight in Dallas as I write this, and as I have to get up in about five hours or so for the rest of the trip to Rapid City, and so I will do my best to make this short. Why did this happen? My mother and I arrived in Dallas at a bit after 8PM, so how was it that it took more than three hours to get into our hotel room? Obviously, there is a story here, and I think it points out to several levels of incompetence in the logistics systems of travel that one experiences when one uses third parties and bundles plane trips as well as other transportation services. So let us untangle what happened.
First things first, it appeared that it was going to be a rather quick process to get from the airport to a relaxing evening at the hotel, but obviously that did not happen. Our plane from Portland arrived a bit early, which was good because there were people who had only 20 minute layovers in Dallas, who we let enter the plane while we waited until nearly the end. Then when we left my mom got a wheelchair because her balance has been a bit off and her knee is bothering her, and then we went to the nearby baggage claim and in short order got our suitcases. It is here that the breakdown began.
It took some time to get from the baggage claim to the courtesy shuttle area, and after that point I called the hotel, who told me to look out for a white van to bring us to the hotel where we had our reservation. This immediately became somewhat of a joke, because there were a variety of white vans that passed by over the course of the next half an hour or so while we waited for the van for Super 8, and once it did arrive and we immediately filled it with people and luggage, it became clear that the van was full and was late because it was a third party that the hotel contracted to bring people between the various hotels that are all in the same area and the airport. Rather than each hotel offering its own individual van with its own individual driver, a group of them contracted with a van service to drive for them all, with the drivers having to depend on tips to supplement a rather meager income. As a somewhat observant traveler, I noticed that the vans themselves were in a state of some disrepair, with the car sending off all kind of alarm notices about needed oil, tire pressure failures, and the like. These vans could use some tlc, in other words, and there is probably little money or motivation to fix them. This would become a recurring theme.
Once we finally got to the hotel, we found that despite the fact that we had a confirmation of a reservation we had made in March, the hotel had no record of our reservation and was thus unable to get us a room. During the course of the lengthy phone call it took to get in touch with others, which included about an hour or so on hold, which did not improve my mood, it became obvious that the hotel was the source of a great deal of confusion. People had reservations under their middle names, other people had reservations that had gone through on the wrong day, and people showed up with reservations for the wrong hotel, because there were at least two other hotels, another one for the Grapevine North and one for South Irving, that were also Super 8 hotels that were commonly confused for this one. And after being on hold for an hour it took a complex explanation for the hotel front desk lady to get her information in a way that she could process the reservation and give my mother and I the room that we had reserved months ago. At long last, we were able to do so, after an explanation from Travelocity, the insanely long phone call, a lot of waiting punctuated by extreme irritation, and a discussion between the lady at the front desk and her manager, who showed up towards the end of the process.
And to top it all off, this was not all that was broken down about the hotel. The elevator was missing some parts (!) and so it was closed, and so we had to schlep our luggage up the stairs and to the furthest part of the hotel from the front, all to enter a room where not all of the lights were working. But the beds were nice enough and it was a place to get at least a few hours of shuteye before continuing the journey early the next morning. And God willing, that is exactly what I will do now.