Trip Report: American Airlines economy class Dallas to San Diego

01. Introduction: San Diego to Belize on American Airlines and Maya Island Air
02. American Airlines economy class San Diego to Dallas
03. American Airlines economy class Dallas to West Palm Beach
04. American Airlines economy class Miami to Belize City
05. Maya Island Air Belize City to Dangriga
06. One week on a private island off the coast of Belize
07. Maya Island Air Dangriga to Belize City
08. American Airlines economy class Belize City to Dallas
09. American Airlines economy class Dallas to San Diego

AA 658
Dallas, TX (DFW) – San Diego, CA (SAN)
Saturday, April 27 2013
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas MD-82
Seat: 21A (economy)

American Airlines MD-82 N7519A
American Airlines MD-82 N7519A side view illustration by Norebbo

I began to get nervous about my connection the moment we landed. DFW taxi times are notoriously long, and this one wasn’t any different. We spent a good 20 minutes rolling around DFW to get to our gate, and I knew that I would have to move fast once I got off the airplane to get through passport control and customs.

I hit the ground running once inside the terminal, and after what seemed like a 10 mile run to the arrivals hall, my heart sank as I saw the line for passport control. It appeared as if there were quite a few international flights that had arrived just before us, and the line was so long that it extended well outside the main hall and way out deep into the corridors. The only thing that came into my head at this point was that scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles where the rental car agent happily tells Steve, “yep, you’re f—–d!”.

With literally no other option, I took a position in line and waited my turn. I knew for a fact that I’d miss my connecting flight, and I was frustrated knowing that I wouldn’t know what my options would be until after I made it out of customs.

All in all, it took just over an hour to get through. The interesting thing was that my flight to SAN had been delayed slightly, giving me a tiny glimmer of hope that I’d make it after all. But knowing that I still had to go though security again I decided to throw in the towel and accept my fate – there was little to no chance of making that flight. Fate accepted, I took a spot in line at the connections desk just outside of customs. I figured I might as well get re-booked here instead of trying to make a mad dash for what seemed like an impossibility of making that connection. After 10 minutes in line, I give the agent at the desk my info and he looks at my boarding pass. He looked at his watch. He typed something into the computer. He looked at his watch again. “RUN”, was the only thing he said.

And run I did. The expedited security card he gave me did little to get me through the security line any quicker, and even after that I had to take the Air Train all the way to the very end of the line. My only hope at this point was that they were holding the airplane for me, but as a non-elite, I wasn’t expecting to be so fortunate.

By the time I got to the gate, the airplane was already gone. Luckily the gate agent was still there finishing things up, and I was happy to learn that they automatically put me on the next flight to SAN which was to depart 1:20 later – with an exit row seat no less. I felt downright relieved at that point, as it gave me plenty of time to slow down from all the stress of the past hour or so, as well as time to grab some dinner. It also gave me time to think that how I might have made the flight if I didn’t decide to wait 10 minutes in that connections desk line. Oh well. Live and learn.

The flight to SAN boarded on time, and I slept like a baby all the way home. No reports of inflight service on this flight, but I’m fairly certain that I didn’t miss much. I do recall, however, the glorious shower I took once I returned home. It was the first real shower I had in over a week, and it felt absolutely great to wash away all the sand that had lodged itself in places where sand should never go…

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