Los Angeles Airport is called LAX.
And I am positive that LAX stands for ‘laxative’, because it really gives me the shits.
They are renovating at the moment. This is wreaking more havoc than is usually wreaked by this overgrown, poorly staffed airport disaster.
I arrived tonight, dropped at Terminal Three – the one with Qantas signs outside. I was flying Qantas, so I thought this would be a good place to get out of the cab.
Inside the terminal, only half of it was operating. The rest is boarded up, with big signs saying ‘renovations in progress’. A helpful man, wearing a badge reading ‘Airport Ambassador’ (boy has he got his work cut out for him), asked if he could help.
“Yes, please, where do I check in for Qantas?”
“Where are you heading?”
“Oh, you need to go to Terminal Four.”
I must have looked a little stricken, as I imagined a long hike with my luggage. “Oh, it is not far. About a two-minute walk,” he smiled helpfully.
I pushed on with my brand new, crappily built and falling apart luggage. There was a bright beacon just outside the door: A luggage trolley! (The best three dollars I spent today). I loaded it up and manoeuvred my way to Terminal Four. Straight to the counter – no waiting – things were looking up.
I told the woman I was flying to Sydney via Brisbane.
“You need to go to the next Terminal – Terminal Three,” she said matter-of-factly.
“I just came from there,” I said, just as matter-of-factly. “They sent me here.”
She sighed heavily, as though just one more idiot Australian would send her around the bend.
“You are flying to Brisbane first?” I nodded wearily. “Then go to Terminal Three.”
I did as I was told, like a schoolgirl scolded. On entering Terminal Three, I looked for any indication of where a Qantas check in counter would be.
The ambassador approached me, “I sent you over to Terminal Four,” he said helpfully.
“Ah, yes, but I have been sent back here. Could you please tell me where the Qantas check in counter is?”
“Are you flying to Sydney?”
I was too tired to explain, “Yes.”
“Then you need to go next door to Terminal Four.”
It seemed he would not stop being helpful until I explained fully, so I said “I am flying to Brisbane first, so apparently I need to be here.” He looked confused but sent me to the right counter. From there it was smooth sailing. The check-in clerk even seated me in a row with no other passengers in it – so I can stretch out. (Yay!) But he is Qantas staff, and has nothing to do with the actual running of the airport.
A few days ago, Ben and I flew into LAX, from Seattle. We got off our flight and followed ‘baggage claim’ signs, which took us at least a kilometre through the airport. We ended up in a completely different terminal to the one we had arrived at, our bags nowhere in sight. Confused, we asked for help. Now granted, I should have never interrupted the poor airport employee while he was text messaging his girlfriend, but all he did when I said ‘Seattle’ was point to a baggage carousel. He didn’t even look up.
We went to where he pointed, a little disconcerted that there was no one around, there was no baggage and there were no signs indicating a flight had come from Seattle.
I looked around. He was the only airport employee within walking distance. I approached him again.
“Excuse me, I am sorry to interrupt (you text-messaging while you’re meant to be working), but we flew in on Virgin from Seattle…”
He interrupted me, “You flew Virgin? Hell, you in the wrong terminal. You gotta go to Terminal Six.”
Ben and I looked at each other, “We followed signs here.”
“You in the wroonggg terminal,” (he dragged out the word ‘wrong’ like we were not only rude for interrupting, but stupid as well.
Ben and I both said something to him about his tone and we could still hear him chastising us as we walked towards Terminal Six, about half a mile away. Inside were our bags. Again, I am adamant that we followed the signs.
LAX is a mess. It is always a mess. It is just too busy for them to finish any of the things that they need to do to get the place working properly. I hear that Heathrow is having all sorts of problems with the new Terminal Five, but despite this LAX will surely retain its title as THE WORST AIRPORT IN THE WORLD. And I should know: in the past three days I have been to four of the terminals.
I should say (so I will) that I am very thankful that I get to travel at all. As my dad said to me earlier today, “That’s just what travelling is about – you take the bad with the good, and just get on with it.” He was referring to the fact that I spent 6 hours in an L.A. hospital yesterday with food poisoning – but I will get to that another time. His comment is just as apt for my little hitch tonight. And it was a little hitch in the scheme of things. It will be forgotten as soon as I stretch out across those three seats, and fall into an exhausted sleep.
Sydney here I come.
Post script: I arrived safely home. I kept a close eye on those two free seats next to me, until a flight attendant moved someone into the one on the far end. Instead of sleeping as though on a couch, I slept as though in a car seat, which is still better than only having that one seat. THAT is like sleeping on an ironing board.
It was as good a night’s sleep as I could have hoped for, yet at 5pm Sydney time, midnight on the west coast of the U.S., I struggle to keep my eyes open. Will be an early one.