Dave's Las Vegas Trip November 1998

by Dave Schultheis WB6KHP

Planning for this quick three-day weekend trip began a few months back, when my uncle and aunt said they'd be glad to have me come to visit and talk about family history.

My plans started solidifying shortly after the folks at the Stratosphere sent me a flyer offering a complimentary two-night stay at their hotel resort. I'd stayed there twice before, enjoyed the amenties and almost had the floorplan committed to memory, so I took them up on their kind offer.

I decided to try "Park-Shuttle-Fly" on Coleman Avenue near San Jose International Airport, arriving there shortly after 9 a.m. on Saturday. [I'm not including their URL because (a) their service was inferior and (b) they overcharged me when I returned.] Their shuttle got me to the airport in plenty of time.

I "passed" on the opportunity to upgrade ($30) to First Class on Reno Air and in return they seated me in 29F (very last seat in the very last row, no window, lots of jet engine noise, couldn't hear P.A. system. Good thing I already knew how to operate seat belts!) This after they had already promised me a seat in the middle of the plane.

We arrived at Mc Carran Airport in Las Vegas a little more than an hour later. The wait at the Hertz counter ("not exactly") was a little longer than advertised. The bus took us over to the car rental facility a few minutes away. The bus driver plopped me right next to a Ford Taurus. The fact that I had requested a Mustang meant a 20-minute delay in the waiting room of the rental office. I tried to keep busy with a "driving directions" machine but it was broken. When I asked them to put a note on the machine saying it was not working, you would have thought that I'd asked them to paint the building purple with orange and green polka-dots. But they eventually did it. Posted a sign, not painted the building.

They brought me a bright blue Mustang, which I inspected and then drove to the hotel parking garage. I received a digital page while walking down the escalator into the hotel. After checking in at the VIP Lounge (!) I checked my voice mail and it was another stupid telephone solicitation.

They put me on the (entirely non-smoking) 21st floor. The room was very nice except that it looked like someone had been swinging from the curtain rods and left the valance askew. Oh, well.

After hanging up my clothes I climbed back into the Mustang and went over to my uncle and aunt's neighborhood. We talked about old times and new times for a while before driving over to the Gold Coast for dinner. Since we were not in California any more, it was necessary to ask for a non-smoking dinner table. I won't dwell on this but I can't believe people smoke around food.

After a nice dinner we spent a little time in the casino and then agreed to meet the next day at "The Feast" (buffet) at the Palace Station, one of their favorites. I went back to my hotel, gambled a little, then took a shower and went to bed.

On Sunday morning I used my free time to take a driving tour of the city, locating Las Vegas Harley-Davidson (closed), the waterfalls at the Mirage, the Bellagio and several other properties up and down The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard).

I ended up at the Palace Station where we met at "The Feast" shortly before 11 a.m. We had quite a wait but it was very good. Afterwards we hit the poker machines. Aunt Eleanor came up with four twos on the "Dueces Wild" machine and won herself a nice little jackpot. Fifteen or twenty minutes later she did it again on an adjacent machine. Wow!

We went back to their place and had a long chat about family history. It was very enlightening and helpful to me in understanding my late father's family history.

On the way back to my room I stopped at Steve Wynn's newest hotel (Bellagio) and walked around a little. It's quite magnificent. They discourage children from coming into the place, even just to look around.

There's a big sign outside every hotel, showing who's playing. David Copperfield was at one place, George Carlin at another. The sign outside Bellagio showed the names of several artists on display at their fancy new art gallery. I tell people that I saw a cowboy looking at the sign with his friends: "Degas, Monet, Picasso, Manet" and others. The cowboy said, "who's this Dee-gas fella and what kinda music does he play?"

Back at the Stratosphere, I took a coupon out of the "fun book" they had given me and put it into the drum for a drawing to take place about a half hour later. Meanwhile I gave away a few quarters to my favorite charity. The first "pull" (actually I "push" the buttons) yielded a flush: 4-2-K-Q-J of Diamonds. How exciting.

I put away my meager winnings and checked on the drawing. A little-old-lady won so I went upstairs to watch the 49ers beat New Orleans on television. Then, since I'm a creature of habit, I took a shower and went to bed.

Early Monday morning I was up and packed, checked out of the hotel and left them with a short list of things that Housekeeping needed to attend to. Stains, broken stuff, etc.

The return flight wasn't for several hours so I took another driving tour of the City. I talked to the nice people (and their snake) at Eagle Rider Harley-Davidson Rentals. Then I stopped at two of Las Vegas Harley-Davidson's stores and drooled over a few nice motorcycles on the showroom floors and parked outside. I got a t-shirt for Mike in Ohio and one for myself.

For those who know Harley models, I particularly enjoyed a nice 1996 FLHPI outside the main store. They wanted $14,995 so I smiled and wiped the drool off the tank as I left.

It was about time to get back to the airport. I found the Hertz return lot and took the bus back to the terminal. I lucked into a very nice (and healthy) chicken breast plate at Don Alejandro's Texan Grill inside the airport terminal.

While waiting for the return plane, I told my sad story of the seating mixup to Reno Air supervisor Kenny Green, who upgraded me to First Class for the trip back. Nice indeed!

The plane was late getting in "due to air traffic control at LAX," so we were late leaving and late getting back to San Jose.

Here's where Park-Shuttle-Fly dropped the ball several times. The shuttle driver had failed to give me the phone number to summon the bus on the return trip. Another passenger called them four times and we still waited almost an hour. When I finally got back to my car, the parking attendant refused to take a check (when they had told me earlier in the week that they would) and the amount was several dollars more than I had been quoted earlier in the week.

(Later in the week I called to complain, and the manager told me she'd send me a voucher of some sort, but of course, she hung up the phone and nothing ever came in the mail.)

I got home at 5:30 p.m. and all was right in the world again!

Post Script: I wrote to Reno Air in January, complaining about how I had been treated. I received a "boiler-plate" reply in early March. The Customer Service person did not respond to my questions but substituted "feel-good" canned phrases for answers.

I later spoke with Customer Service on the telephone and was (a) reassured that I had done nothing wrong (b) reassured that they were sorry for the poor treatment and (c) compensated with two First Class upgrades for future use on Reno Air.

It looks like my next flight will be more pleasant. Let's hope so.

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Created on November 28, 1998. Last updated at 09:40 PDT on May 31, 1999.
David W. Schultheis, San Josť, Silicon Valley, Santa Clara County, California, USA