Washington National Airport
Sunday, December 27, 2011
And, of course, its never easy.
When you deal with last minute trips and people from any assortment of different countries the reality is you can never do too much checking, because the thing you don't fully investigate will be the thing which trips you up.
Take, for example, Francisco Campos-Lopez. Francisco was added last-minute to the Shanghai itinerary to film the two-week program and create the video blogs, concert tapes, documentaries and creative films that bring the work back home to the States. One of the key lessons of all these years of international travel is that, just like the old adage about a tree falling in the woods, if you don't find a way to bring the experience back to the people at home whose support you need then from the eyes of those in the community you need support from (read funders), you really never went. And then those extraordinary, exotic, powerful programs mean nothing to the people who didn't make the journey.
In the end, from the standpoint of your Board, your staff and your funders that can be fatal.
So Francisco got added.
Almost. Sort of.
Among the various challenges of the Shanghai trip the fact that the team going is coming from different places and leaving China at different times meant that we bought many different tickets -- in fact, for the seven people going we ended up with four completely separate itineraries. Christian starts in LA, meets us in Shanghai, leaves five days ahead of the rest of the Company and ends up in North Carolina. Jason, from the Philippines, left Thanksgiving Day to go over early to jump out to Manila to have time with his family. He arrives in Shanghai a day later than the rest of us from a third country. My flight, by the time I booked it, had to be completely different than Kathryn/Rob/Amanda's because their flight was full. So the three of them and me arrive to Shanghai at EXACTLY the same time -- 1455 Shanghai local time -- on two completely different flights originating in different cities -- despite the fact that we all left National within an hour of each other. And I leave on the same flight as Christian on the 5th, leaving everyone else in Shanghai to teach.
And then there's Francisco.
He's from Chile.
By the time it became clear we needed to bring him (I have to serve as technical director for the program) airfares had changed dramatically and so we had to get creative. We found a great price on Air Canada with all the needed components to get him over at a price we could afford.
BUT, when you book a flight on the day after Thanksgiving you leave yourself exactly no room for error. And it turns out that the Canadian government requires a transit visa for Chileans even to transit through an international airport. Even though he never leaves the international terminal, going straight from one flight to the next, they denied him a boarding pass at National Airport at 0515 in the morning.
At which point my phone rang.
Now, when you buy your tickets online from web services -- in this case web jet -- you can't count on 24/7 service. And there isn't any. By the time their offices open to either cancel a ticket or change a route we have to be wheels up to China or lose days of work - with no guarantee we'll fix the problem anyway.
So, cancel or buy a new ticket and raise the standard of protest with Air Canada and web jet when they open -- meaning pass it off to one of the people on my team staying in the States. Because to the best of my knowledge there's no cell phone service just yet over the North Pole.
If a tree falls in the woods.....
I bought a new ticket. For a flight to China. Which leaves in 51 minutes.
Can never, ever, ever be too careful and dot too many "t's" and cross too many "i's."
No matter how many details you think you have covered, there's no substitute for obsessing.....
But Shanghai calls and that's amazing.
(And Delph lands in Tel Aviv to start her work with Yossi and Oded in about 90 minutes)....