Waking Up From The Nightmare: The LAX FlyAway Bus

Waking Up From The Nightmare: The LAX FlyAway Bus

When the Van Nuys LAX FlyAway handed me the wrong luggage when I was running late for an international flight, the first thing I did was run as fast as I can to catch the bus that just left while trying to call them on the phone.

Van Nuys LAX FlyAway:

$9.75 One Way

$19.50 Roundtrip (valid for 30 days)

I always buy the one-way pass since there are no savings/incentives to buying the roundtrip ticket.  There used to be some savings, but they have been incrementally increasing the prices over the years that they may have forgotten. They forget a lot of things…

van nuys flyawayI walk in at 10:20pm, buy a ticket from the automated machine, and think back to the past when trips were only $7 one way to LAX.  That was in 2012 and it’s now 2017.  40% price jump in the years I’ve been using this service.

When the bus was ready for boarding, I hand my carry-on luggage to the baggage handler and say Tom Bradley International Terminal and proceed to board the bus.  I had just gotten this new 20” silver spinner carry on bag for $60 at Marshall’s.  A pretty nice find since it has a lock on the bag and looked neat.

carry on luggage
Homeless in Osaka for 6 hours. I hang out at the train station and a KFC. Picture taken after going to KFC since I picked up a little colonel (seen in mid-left)

After handing him the bag, I proceed into the bus without tipping.  That’s because I can put the bag on the bus but they do it to keep the bags organized…or so I thought.  The bus was pretty empty so there weren’t too many bags.  Probably about a dozen people when the bus can support 60+.

The ride to the airport was pretty smooth.  We got to LAX quickly since the driver was driving very aggressively.  He was moving quickly and honking at people in his way.  He got us through the mess of traffic at LAX faster than most drivers I’ve ridden with on the FlyAway.

We arrived at TBIT at 11pm.  The driver let me out and asked if I had any luggage. I said “yes.”  I thought to myself, that’s a really dumb question.  I had a medium-sized backpack on and I was clearly going on an international flight.  Flights over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans depart from TBIT.  Of course, I have luggage.  Well, I’m writing that out of frustrations since…I’ll continue.

The driver opens the luggage compartment (there’s 5 sections) and reveals a silver carry-on bag.  He hands it to me and I tip him $1.  I place my backpack on top of the carry-on and then sleepily proceed into the terminal to find my flight.

China Airlines LAX to Okinawa via Taipei (12 hour layover): I wasn’t sure if they’d make me check my bag, but I was prepared to check it if the flight was full.  I’m in economy since I’ve been burning through flights a lot this year and have to budget my miles.  That’s not going to buy me any sympathy for living well, but at least I can remind myself about the rougher parts of traveling.

I’m waiting in line to get into the check-in counter and it’s moving slowly. That’s how economy lines work, slowly. It’s not too long though and I wait for about 10 minutes to move up a few places.  As I’m getting closer, I remember to take a picture of my bag in case I have to check it in.  I remove my backpack and am focusing in for a good picture.  I see the word “Samsonite” on the bag.  That’s weird, I didn’t notice that before.  My bag was a “Mia Toro”.  I then came to the conclusion that maybe the bag was really cheap and the Mia Toro logo fell off to reveal “Samsonite.”  Then it all clicked.

It was the wrong bag!

When you take the LAX FlyAway, they place a tag on your bag with your terminal.  The tag on the bag said “5”.  I jumped out of line and immediately started running to terminal 5.  As I was running, I took out my LAX FlyAway ticket and called up customer support.  I got connected to Lost & Found but it was only an answering machine!  I picked up the pace to Terminal 5!

If you are not familiar with LAX, to get to Terminal 5 from TBIT, you’ll have to run passed Terminal 4.  It’s pretty far and difficult to run since there’s a lot of people with luggage in your way.

As I’m running over, I look out for a silver spinner carry-on that could be my bag moving towards TBIT.  I get to Terminal 5 and see the Van Nuys LAX FlyAway bus.  Upon a closer look, it was the same bus and the same driver!  He was looking at my bag with an understandably angry passenger.

I handed over his bag and then he joked about taking the stuff in my bag.  After a quick glance at my bag, I noticed the locks were still in place so I didn’t need to verify.  With the correct luggage now in my possession, I ran back towards TBIT to check-in, fully awake.



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