The drive from Aurora to O'Hare was uncongested -- a good thing about leaving after morning commute time -- but I was caught out by not knowing the area. I stopped at the O'Hare "Oasis" -- a service area captive to the tollway, something I've heard about but never driven myself, as we don't have them on the west coast other than freeway rest areas. The stop was to refuel the rental car and use the restroom. I wasn't sure if the gas station had restrooms, so I went to the main building first. That's when I discovered that the gas station comes first and is one-way, so if you do what I did, you can't then drive back into the gas station.
I also was unaware that there are no gas stations near the rental car return, so I had to bail out just before entering the Avis gate, go back to the highway, and drive around until I found a gas station. Good thing I was in no hurry.
There was some delay while Avis dealt with adjusting my bill on account of them downgrading my car (they having nothing on the lot that I'd reserved when I arrived last week), but nothing serious. As I got on the airport shuttle, I noticed that the airport's internal people-mover goes right by the Avis Rental Car area. I thought, "They should put in a station on the people-mover; you could get rid of the shuttle buses then and reduce airport traffic."
I checked in for my America West flight to Phoenix and SFO. AW's check-in kiosks allow you to change to an exit-row seat as long as you answer OK to the exit-row question. Then it was on to Security, and I will say that I'm not impressed with their queue management. They let queues build up in the wrong places and slow things down more than necessary simply because they don't give people enough space (and time) to take computers out of cases and remove metal objects; consequently, everyone has to slow down, and the whole system slows. I was amused that the TSA woman recognized the "Daylight" logo on my shirt -- it's related to the famous steam locomotive Southern Pacific 4449 and the other "Daylight" locomotives of the SP fleet, and I bought the shirt while on an excursion behind 4449 a few years ago.
I was surprised to find that O'Hare -- or at least the pieces of the terminal in which I was -- did not have wireless internet service (which is why I was unable to reply to all of those comments earlier today on a different subject). I would have expected someone to provide it the way T-Mobile does at SFO.
The flight from ORD to PHX was nicely uneventful, and I was fortunate to have one of the few empty middle seats next to me on the plane. Unlike the frantic dash to connect going out to Chicago, I had a relatively leisurely 55 minutes this time, and I needed it, as I arrived on the tip of one of the two A piers and went out on B28, which is not quite maximum separation, but it's close. But to some extent that's good, as the brisk walk through the terminal (somewhere between 500 and 1000 steps) was about the only exercise I got today, and my blood sugar levels are elevated because of it.
At the beginning of the flight, they announced that headsets were available for a $5 fee, but that you got to keep them. I asked the flight attendant if that was a very new policy, and she said, yes, it had just started three or four days ago. Rats! I paid a $5 fee going out to Chicago and had to give the headset back. On this return trip, I remembered to bring the headset from my radio, and it worked just fine -- unlike Continental, America West uses a standard connector for their in-flight audio.
I got that exit aisle seat on the final leg to SFO, and have nothing to complain about. We arrived pretty much on time; however, it took twenty minutes for the luggage to arrive, so I was unable to get on the BART train I wanted. There was still some hope of making a connection to the Capitol at Coliseum, but only if the Capitol train was at least about five minutes late. And while you can check Amtrak train status by phone using "Julie," the automated system, you can't call them while in a BART tunnel. I got off BART at Coliseum and tried to check train status and while that was happening, the Capitol arrived. In retrospect, had I known it was exactly five minutes late, I could have made the train if I hot-footed it over there; however, had the train been on time, it would have left before my BART train even got to Coliseum, and I'd have no way of knowing it. Oh, we'll, if I was going to stay on BART -- and now I was -- I was going to have to change from a Dublin-Pleasanton train to a Fremont train anyway, so it's no big deal, and the $10 taxi fare back to the apartment is on expenses.
When the taxi dropped me off, I realized that I'd left the pedestrian gate key (it's a gated complex) in the apartment and was stuck outside. Fortunately for me, someone came along driving out just then, so I was able to get in by running for the gate.
Now I need to unpack and get some sleep.