Florida’s weather is some of the strangest weather I’ve ever seen in my life. A single day can go from partly cloudy to blisteringly sunny to pouring rain to sunny again, then repeat the entire process the following day.
Another observation I’ve made while in Florida is that the drivers are equally as wild as the weather.
Within the first day of arriving in Orlando, I nearly got into a collision while coming back to our Airbnb after picking up sushi because an oncoming vehicle wasn’t paying attention to the curvature of the road and nearly drove head-on into me. I managed to avoid it by swerving sharply off the road and going up onto a curb. Luckily, I was perfectly fine, though Monica’s boba was not… and I spent a few minutes soaking up tea from the floor mats of the rental car.
Not only that, but all drivers in general seem to be a bit strange. Nowhere else have I seen people not follow the speed limit so badly… in both directions. I very rarely saw cars driving at the speed limit—it was either 15 miles per hour above the speed limit… or below it. I mentioned this to one of my colleagues, and he suggested that the reason for this is likely because those driving under the speed limit are retired, and those driving over it are sick of the retired people.
On a related note, my rental car this time around was a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. I obviously put in a reservation for a full-size pickup truck, but they only had one more available on the lot, and there was another guy behind me who actually needed a pickup truck, so I let him take it and I took an SUV instead.
It was nice re-experiencing what a mid-size SUV feels like, because I hadn’t driven one of those for a while (I’m so used to driving huge vehicles now that a mid-size SUV feels very small and agile), but my overall conclusion is that it’s wildly overrated. Of course, there was just the inconvenience of not having a massive center console like I usually do in full-size pickup trucks, so once I had two drinks, I didn’t have a place to put my phone and wallet. But, for a vehicle that appeared like it was optioned to MSRP at just shy of US$50,000.00, I’d rather get a luxury pickup truck any day.
One of the more irritating things about the SUV was that it had air suspension. Normally, that’s considered a good thing, but I like having a high ride height, and every time I set the suspension at the highest level, it would automatically lower when I exceeded a particular speed, then show “aero” on the gauge cluster. I’m not sure if there’s a setting that stops it from doing that, but I didn’t bother spending the time looking into it.
After we took care of all the business we needed to address in Orlando, we booked our flights back to our respective homes—Monica back to Dallas–Fort Worth, and me straight back to Las Vegas this time. Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip with Monica unless she provided me with a final troll to say goodbye.
After returning the rental car, we walked through the airport and approached the security checkpoint, when Monica told me that she didn’t have her boarding pass and hadn’t checked in yet. Of course, I facepalmed, then told her to check in so we could get through security. She fumbled around with her phone for a few minutes, then told me that she couldn’t check in.
I took her phone from her and looked through her American Airlines mobile app… upon which I discovered that the option to check in wasn’t there. I grabbed her record locator and went to the AA.com website… upon which I discovered that the option to check in wasn’t there either. Confused, we found a place to sit, powered up my mobile hotspot, whipped out my laptop, and tried to check in from a regular browser… and the check-in link wasn’t there either.
I told Monica that there was clearly something wrong with her reservation, and that we probably had to check in in-person. We exited the main area of the airport out near the entrance and went on one of the American Airlines self-service kiosks to check in… and we couldn’t check in there either. Now just bewildered in confusion, we stood in the line for customer service and waited for a representative to help us out.
The representative helped us discover the problem. Our travel date was July 30. Monica accidentally booked her flight for August 13.
Orlando International Airport is interesting. It takes the concept of “airport hotel” to a whole new level. I’m not sure if this is more common in other countries, but throughout all my travels, I have never seen an airport hotel actually physically literally be inside the airport. Apparently that is the case for Orlando.
After we made it through security, unfortunately, I discovered that The Club MCO in Terminal B, Concourse 4 was temporarily closed due to COVID-19. I could’ve gone to the one in Terminal A, Concourse 1, but because of the way that Orlando International Airport is laid out, that would mean I would have to exit security, go back through security on the opposite side of the airport, then exit security again and come back to the security checkpoint on this side of the airport to board my flight. I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble, so I just found myself a nice wooden bench to sit and work on.
I’m not really a big fan of how American Airlines is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently they aren’t blocking out middle seats, and the flights are packed way too full—Monica and my flight from DFW to MCO was nearly at capacity. Because of this, I decided to take Delta Airlines back home (which is my preferred airline anyway), which meant my layover back to Las Vegas was in Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport instead of Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport.
I visited Minneapolis once before for X Games Minneapolis 2019, so it was nice seeing it again.
Taking the inefficient flight path via Delta up northwest instead of straight west did mean that my travel day was right around 8 hours instead of 6.5 on American (or potentially as low as 5 if I took Spirit or Frontier, but there’s no way I would’ve done that), but I personally think it was worth it for my own safety. At least I got some extra Delta Medallion-qualifying miles for the extra distance traveled.
Home, sweet home.