After some fun, I’m back in Seattle. An observation: when United Airlines calls your cell phone, tells you that your original flight was cancelled, and offers you a different flight at no charge that gets you to your destination earlier, and it seems too easy… it probably is.
Update: Here’s the full story. Not an atypical travel story, I suppose, but it’s unusual in my experience in the number of things that went wrong in one day.
Boston, Sunday, 3:35 pm. I get a call on my cell phone telling me that the first leg of my flight back to Seattle, through Washington, DC, has been cancelled. However, they can put me on a flight routed through Denver that gets me to Seattle about half an hour earlier. As noted above, it sounds too good to be true.
Boston Logan Airport, 5:30 pm. The airport is packed and I find the flight departure has been delayed twenty minutes, to 7:00 pm. No big deal so far…
Boston Logan Airport, 8:00 pm. Having finally pushed back from the gate at 7:30 pm, we’re waiting in line to take off. And waiting. And waiting. I start noticing other planes going around us… The young kid in the row behind me kicking my seat and giggling doesn’t help my mood.
Boston Logan Airport, 8:30 pm. We’re back at the gate. The pilot announced that there was a mechanical problem with one of the instruments that would prevent us from taking off. Then the ground crew chief came on and said, “Passengers going to Denver and those continuing to San Francisco, we will get you there tonight, either on this plane or another. Passengers connecting through Denver, you will probably all miss your connections. Please come and see me at the podium…”
Boston Logan Airport, 9:20 pm. I finally get through the line at the podium to find that I can get on a flight to Los Angeles, and then take a flight to Seattle first thing in the morning. That gets me to SeaTac Aiport about 9 am. The only catch is that “at this point there’s no way your bag is going to LAX with you, because the LAX flight leaves in 15 minutes and your bag isn’t off the plane yet. You’ll need to file a claim as soon as you get to LAX so that your bag can be delivered to you in Seattle.” But he promises I can get a voucher for a hotel room in LAX.
Boston Logan Airport, 10:20 pm. We take off finally for LAX.
LAX, 1:10 am (Pacific Daylight Time). We land in LAX. I ask the customer service crew about my hotel voucher and am told to proceed to baggage claim. I ask the baggage claim personnel about my bag claim and am told, “Since your bag is checked to Seattle, you’ll need to call this number to file the claim.” I have to ask twice to get the voucher.
LAX, 2:10 am (PDT). After I wait for 25 minutes, the shuttle for the Aiport Hilton pulls up and stops one lane away from the curb. I try to make eye contact with the driver to see if he’s going to bring it to the curb, but he revs the motor and drives away as I’m waving at him (empty shuttle). I end up paying the Ramada driver $5 to take me to the Hilton.
LA, Airport Hilton, 2:45 am (PDT). I finally get in my bed, until…
LA, Airport Hilton, 5:10 am (PDT). My wake-up call. I need to be back at the airport for a 6:30 flight.
LAX, 6:35 am (PDT). We take off on time (amazingly). So far Monday is much better travel than Sunday…
SeaTac Airport, 9:10 am (PDT). I deplane and head for baggage claim. When I speak to the personnel about my bag, she says, “Your name rings a bell for some reason. I think we may already have your bag.” She and I walk over to a stack of luggage from another flight, and there’s my bag!!!
Redmond, 10:10 am (PDT). I arrive at work smelling not too horrible in yesterday’s clothes (no time to go home and change). Another travel horror story survived.
The scariest part
The most frightening thing about this whole story is that virtually the whole story happened to me before… in 1995, when I was traveling for AMS. From Dulles, we couldn’t take off for LA because of mechanical failure… we missed our connection to Inyokern, CA and had to spend a night in the Airport Hilton… our bags were lost and then found… and it was all on United. So Mike Stopper and Kevin Mitchell, I was thinking of you guys last night as I tried to dial a local access number for my company in LA only to find that the room didn’t have an active outside line. “What a bunch of gougers!”
What’s your story?
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