End on a HI Note

For those of you who have been following my recent travel adventure through my blog, I should let you know that I have made it back home to Maui, safe and sound.  When last I left you I was about to cheat on my pub with a younger, flashier pub in Las Vegas.  Rí Rá Irish Pub, located in the shops at Mandalay Bay, is a wood finished establishment that is meant to be cozy and comfortable.  As you walk into the pub you notice nooks, alcoves and separate rooms off from the main bar.  They advertise live Irish music every night and that evening they had Derek Warfield & the Young Wolfe Tones on the bill.  I saw at least two stages for the entertainment and both were almost on top of the tables.  It gave the sense that the live music would be a very intimate affair (of course that would also depend on which room the band played in).

Guinness and cider...a match made in heaven.

I was shown to a table located in the furthest room from the main bar, where I was able to put my leg up as I enjoyed a delicious lamb burger and a tasty beverage.  As I sat in what is probably known as the Siberia room (not only due to the isolation from the rest of the pub, but because the a/c was producing snow back there) I learned that Rí Rá is a chain with 12 locations (most on the east coast).  It was no Mulligans on the Blue, but at least when I make it to Vegas I now have two options for a nice pint when I’m feeling homesick (Nine Fine Irishmen in New York, New York & Rí Rá in Mandalay Bay).

Kenny Rogers…I am not.

As I left the pub I decided to sit down at a quarter video poker machine and put in $40.  I am not a gambler in any sense, so I do not enjoy playing games of chance with money I have in my possession.  I would rather pay for something tangible, something real, rather than lose it to poor odds and misfortune.  I decided to play just to say that I did in fact gamble for the time that I spent in Vegas.  After about 10 minutes of playing and sweating nervously I cashed out $8.75 richer.  A win is a win.

Drama at 22 feet.

I returned my rental car and made it to the Hawaiian Airlines ticket counter by 3:05PM, unfortunately, the counter did not open for business until 3:20PM.  My flight was not until 6:15PM, but I wanted to make sure I was able to get a bulkhead seat or have an empty seat next to me to elevate my leg.  I was the fourth passenger to check in to the flight, once the counter opened, behind two older aunties and a family of four.  When I asked about the seating request I made when I booked the ticket, the counter associate said that I was on a “wait list” and that I should listen for my name at the gate before we board.  She handed me my ticket and I saw it was seat 41E, I asked her if that was at least a window seat so I could protect my leg, but she said it was a center row seat.  I asked her if she could change that and she told me again (this time with a more forceful tone) that I was on the “wait list” and to listen for my name in the boarding area.

I made my way through security and got comfortable at the gate waiting area for the next two and a half hours.  As we got closer to our boarding time, I watched and listened for my name to be called.  It never was.  I witnessed two passengers who were on stand-by get their seats assigned and I saw the two aunties from earlier ask about their bulkhead seats and were told they were on the “wait list”, but that several people were ahead of them.  This struck me as odd since they were the first passengers to check in for this flight back at 3:20PM.  In my mind I began to question how this “wait list” works.  Is the list started when the flight is purchased?  If so, I called Hawaiian months prior to request a bulkhead seat.  Does the list begin when passengers begin to check in, if so than these two older ladies should have been taken care of immediately.  As I pondered this they began pre-boarding the flight.

I crutched up to the jet way and explained to the flight attendant that I was waiting for my name to be called, but that I also needed the extra time to get on the plane safely.  He gave me the surprisingly flexible option of waiting or getting on (hope you could taste the sarcasm on that one).  He agreed with me that I was probably not going to get reassigned at this late stage, so I began to get on the plane.  On my long trek back to row 41, I caught another flight attendant and explained my situation again.  He was kind enough to write my name and seat number on his own hand and assured me he would look into it.

I made it back to my seat, only to find it was a middle seat in the center row of three seats.  I had a pregnant lady with a baby on my right and a middle-aged lady on my left…I was in for a long flight.  The lady with the baby and I began talking and she became more upset about my situation than I was.  As she was cursing the inefficiency of the ticket counter staff, the flight attendant came back to let me know they had re-assigned me to seat 11C.  Unfortunately at the time everybody was boarding, so I had to bob and weave my way against traffic to get to my new seat.  The lady with the baby was not only happy for me, because I got a better seat, but she could use my empty seat to lay down her little one who had been traveling all day from Florida.

When I arrived at row 11 I was face to face with the two aunties from earlier…looks like we all made the “wait list” eventually.  Next to the two ladies and across the aisle was an empty seat, as well as a beautiful young lady who shared with us that she was a stand-by passenger.  How does someone on stand-by status not only get a seat I had requested months prior, but then she also got an empty seat next to her on what we were told was a full flight.

The two older ladies, Taimani and Vaha, were a pleasure to sit next to and we talked story almost the entire flight home.  They were continuing on to O’ahu, so their journey continued after we said our goodbyes on Maui.

This was the second time on this Las Vegas to Maui direct flight that I was given less than stellar service by the ticket counter, so when I got home I sent an email to Hawaiian Airlines asking for clarification on how their “wait list” officially works.  In my email I asked them to provide me with the amount of bribe money I need to offer the ticket counter in Vegas, so I do not have to go through these shenanigans again.  I have received no response as of today, but I cannot wait to hear from them.

This was my last planned trip to the mainland for awhile, due to the possibility of another surgery coming my way in April.  I have a doctor’s appointment on March 30th to discuss the future of my leg, so stay tuned for more information.

Vincent Lorusso Written by:

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives. - Jackie Robinson

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