I was scheduled to speak at Cassandra Europe on Thursday morning. I didn't want to leave Rachel alone with the kids longer than necessary, so I picked a flight leaving Tuesday evening and arriving Wednesday at 6 AM Texas time / noon GMT. (This is the best case for getting some sleep on the flight over.)
I could have booked a direct British Airways flight from a consolidator for $1600, but our corporate travel department shot that down. ("What if you need to change your flight?") So I ended up connecting through Houston for $600 more.
I carpooled to the airport with Brian, who was heading back to Washington within half an hour of my flight. We had dinner, then split up to board. Halfway through the brief flight to Houston I realized that I hadn't packed my passport.
It's difficult to exaggerate the feeling of impending doom where you know you're screwed but are absolutely powerless to do anything about it.
When we landed, I went to the gate and explained what happened. I was lucky enough to speak with some kind of shift supervisor, because she sent me over to United customer service with instructions to call her. When they did, there was an exchange about "carryback/carryover" and they booked me a flight back to Austin and a new flight to London at no charge. Needless to say, I've never had United or any airline fail to charge me money at every opportunity. That took a little of the sting out of it.
I was scheduled now to fly through Houston at 3:30 Wednesday and arrive in London at 7. With my talk scheduled to start at 8:45, and the trip from the airport to the conference 45 minutes without traffic, that didn't leave much wiggle room for delayed flights, getting through customs, etc.
So I walked back to customer service again and asked if there were any earlier flights that connected elsewhere. Ultimately we found one that got me there at 6 through Chicago. After some more phone calls that sounded like they were about to decided that they couldn't do it because of some rule or another, they got everything lined up.
I finished my presentation on the flight Wednesday. I'll quote Billy on what happened at the conference:
... our thoughts turn to the diva world where Mr. Ellis solidified his rockstar image by sliding into the building (and the country) a solid hour before his keynote presentation. It seems he believed that being a founder of DataStax meant that he could travel without his passport. His star power carried him through the Austin airport security, where his name is legendary, but not so in Houston.After the power nap, I got my second wind long enough to go out to dinner with the team. Then I slept for eight hours, then another three after breakfast. Then my sleep schedule was so screwed up that I only slept about another hour before my Saturday morning flight back. Which ended up working out okay, because I slept on the plane and ended up more or less ready for the Texas time zone when I landed just in time to take three of the kids to the ward Christmas party.
In the future, Mr. Ellis demanded requested an entourage that will manage such trivial details as carrying his passport. We will oblige so long as he continues to rock the keynotes like a boss, as he did this time around. After the keynote, we then threw him immediately into meetings that went from 10am - 5pm with a whopping 10 minute break for lunch (though rumor has it that one meeting was canceled, which bought him a 20 minute nap under the table). He performed fantastically in the meetings, but that's what rockstars do: when the lights come on, they do their thing.
Only three, because Isaac took the opportunity to come down with the flu in my absence, and Tommy stayed home with his mom. One of these years I'll make it through a flight without someone getting sick or injured while I'm gone. Poor Rachel!