1009 UA6159 BWI ORD 2118 2223 ER4 12C was 1930 2035 was AA3936 BWI ORD 1805 1920 ER4 and AA2078 ORD SAN 2015 2220 738 was UA 152 BWI ORD 1657 1801 738 and UA 651 ORD SAN 2024 2230 752 was UA 453 BWI DEN 1611 1803 752 2F and UA1694 DEN SAN 1903 2027 739 2F So I got to the airport two hours before my flight the way they say to; really, an hour is plenty, but I usually allow two just in case the bus breaks down or something. Anyhow, the bus didn't break down, but security did - the lines were crawling; half the machines weren't being used. Some guy at the end of the line whined he'd never seen it so bad; I didn't have the heart to tell him that it was kind of annoying, but nothing like, for example, Christmas eve. An hour to my flight, and I was kind of thirsty and very sleepy, so McDonald's with its medium (the smallest it serves) Coke beckoned, and when I got there, my stomach decided that a Big Mac was just the ticket: whatever. I really do like Cokes, having been brought up on them long before it was figured out that children really should not be given large doses of caffeine. The Big Mac, well, I examined it in as unprejudiced a way as I could. Okay. It's medium in size, two small patties, 3 sesame bun sections, a handful of shredded lettuce, Americanoid cheezoid, and special sauce. The taste is not bad (there was some Latin guy in back making them to order) - it's well balanced, the slightly too sweet bun counteracting the slightly too greasy meat, the cheese unobtrusive but adding both salt and creaminess, the sauce a little aggressively relishy (it appears to be mayo and relish; I seem to recall it used to have a substantial ketchup component) and with that odd tendency that such pickled things do to stench up one's breath and one's hands way out of proportion to their aroma and taste the first time round. Oh, yes, there were three half lengthwise slices of dill pickle in there, too. For 30c more I could have gotten a dipper of fries, but I thought that with dinner coming up on two separate flights I should be moderate in my intake. Little did I know. I showed up at the gate just around preboard time and found that something was amiss - the gate agents were conversing in hushed tones and pacing about in an uneasy way. About departure time it was announced that there was a maintenance issue, and the flight was "on decision" with further news within 30 minutes. As 30 minutes would make my connection difficult, I immediately called the premier line (there is no longer a dedicated line for the fancy flyers; we're just put at the head of the regular queue, or so they tell us) and was rebooked on an ORD connection leaving in about an hour, all I had to do was stroll to the other gate, get my boarding passes (all in first class), easy peasy. Off to the other gate, where the agent was having a meltdown over the first of two or three customers. It took at least 10 minutes to handle the first person in line, so I went to another gate, where an agent typed away for a while, frowned, and said that the previous agent at the previous gate had closed the flight, and only she could put people on it, so back I went. I was now about #10 in line. It took 45 minutes to get through the first five, which meant that this flight was going to be late, which flustered the person even more, which meant that reissuing boarding passes came to a complete halt, and people were getting admitted on the flight no matter what kind of paper they had in their hands, just so it was paper. The agent we had been waiting for left the dirty work to someone else and hid behind the next counter - when one of the guys behind me went over and confronted her, she apparently hissed "don't talk to me" and turned her back on him. A supervisor was requested. Of course it turned out that she was the supervisor. So I and two people in front of me and maybe a dozen behind me, all with confirmed reservations, didn't get on the plane. Apparently the plane left with empty seats, too. I slunk back to the other gate, where a willing but exceedingly slow agent typed for a good five minutes before opining that nothing could be done for me. I suggested an alternative connection via ORD on AA, which he said he couldn't do. I shrugged and, trying to be polite, thanked him and so back to the phone.