Wednesday, March 10, 2010

getting there the hard way

At the end last month, I attended the 10th Annual Conference For Young Women Affected By Breast Cancer. The conference was a wonderful experience, the getting there, however, was a traumatic experience.

The kind of experience that made me think that if I never see the inside of an airplane again, it will be too soon.

Please bear with me (or feel free to move on to more interesting places) while I rant. This is my story.

February 25

1-At 8:15am (my flight is at 11:15 and I live fifteen minutes from the airport but I have become paranoid extremely cautious about long lines and security), as I the taxi pulls up, I get a funny feeling in the pit of my stomach. I ask my spouse to check on my flight status. It turns out that it's been cancelled. The cab driver is none too pleased when I send him on his way.

2-Wait on hold for an hour so that I can re-book my flight. It turns out that the big storm in New York has caused many flights to be cancelled (I was scheduled to go via Newark). My new flight will take me via Detroit.

3-Leave for the airport at 1:30pm for a 4:30pm flight. End up waiting for half an hour for ticket agents to finish their break and check me in. I truly don't mind that staff take breaks. It is a little annoying when they are doing so in full view of lined up passengers. Couldn't they go have a coffee or something? Couldn't Delta have other staff cover breaks? Do they all have to go on break at the same time?

4-Clear security and proceed to the bar near my gate. Have a big beer and a sandwich. Given what follows, I end up being very grateful for the sandwich.

5- Settle in at the gate only to learn that my flight has been delayed by an hour. 

6-Board airplane and sit on the tarmac for 40 minutes as the wings are de-iced. I have a good book and lots of time to make my connection, so I'm not remotely worried.

7- Land in Detroit with an hour to spare beofre my flight to Atlanta. The flight attendant asks that all those with less than 25 minutes to make their connections be let off first. We then sit on the tarmac for an hour, growing increasingly anxious, as there is too much of a logjam to get to the gate.

8- Get off the plane after my connecting flight was scheduled to leave but note that the Departures screen indicates that my flight is still boarding. Sprint through two terminals and across the airport.

9- Arrive at my gate out of breath and with my heart pounding, to be told that a) my flight has left and b) there are no more flights to Atlanta that evening. I am directed to another gate to re-book my flight. The agent tells me that he has "no idea" whether I will be offered a hotel for the night. 

10-Try to re-book by scanning my ticket. When that doesn't work, I join a very long line,  in which I stand for three hours.

I've worn myself out just writing this. I'm going to go do something else now. I'll conclude this riveting story tomorrow. Do you have a travel horror story? Want to share it in the comments?


Living Beyond Breast Cancer said...

Sorry it was so complicated in getting there--but we're glad you had such a good time! Would you be willing to write a guest blog entry for us about your experiences at the conference? You can send an email to Michelle at to talk further :)

Average Jane said...

I haven't had a really bad one in a while, but here's the story of our trip back from Las Vegas on our 10th anniversary. It was a pretty big pain in the butt.

Anonymous said...

12 years old. Honolulu Airport. Going home with family after lovely vacation. IIRC, the flight was to depart at 6 pm. It was delayed to 8. At 8, they announced that it was delayed to 10. At 10, it was delayed to 12. We were shipped off to a hotel, and told we had to be back at 6. We did. Flight then got delayed to 8. I think we finally got out of there at 8 – or maybe 10. It was annoying for me. Even moreso for my parents, I imagine.

Andrea Ross said...

Hey Laurie,

Glad you made it there and back (sorry you got the run-around) and that I ran into you and your healthy, happy friend just now in the park.

Having stumbled on the taxotere-alopecia news just before setting out, your beautiful locks and healthy smiles were just what I needed to see!

Be well and be happy,

Capital Mom said...

I was hanging in there until you got to the 3 hour wait in line. The rest was bad enough but that would have pushed me over the edge.

Anonymous said...

For me, Laurie, there's nothing an airline can do to piss me off. I'm such a phobic flyer that waiting, starving, staying over, waiting again and anything else they come up with is meaningless. If we eventually go up and come down..and I'm still alive, it's a good flight. No, I take that back, turbulence counts for misery as well as it raises, in my fevered mind, the possibility we'll go down before the appointed time and in something other than the planned place.

Looking forward to the REST OF THE STORY.

B in T

laurie said...

Thanks all! It was the three hours of uncertainty that got to me as much as the three hours of waiting. Plus being hot and tired. More today.
And I will drop you a line, Michelle.

Chris said...

Well here's my worst weather realted "horror story." But does it count if I adopted a friendly and patient attitude for the whole day, knowing that everything that was bound to happen to me was not in anyone's control?

Many years of air travel have taught me that in a clash between the weather and my thinking, the weather always wins.

laurie said...

Yes, being nice does pay off. I wrote about that in part 2...

Dee said...

Hi Laurie,
The last time I flew, about six weeks ago, I had a hell of a time. I went to Victoria, BC to do an external review of a grad program at Royal Roads University.

Now, I could drive to Victoria in about 8-9 hours. But I decided to fly from Eugene to Seattle and then to Victoria, since flights were short. The drive to Eugene is 45 min. If schedules were amenable, then an hour flight to Seattle, say an hour or so layover, then a 45 min flight to Victoria. Easy, eh?

It took me 14 hours to get to Victoria. FOURTEEN. I left home about 9am for a noon flight to Seattle, then had a 3 1/2 layover before my 45-minute flight to Victoria. I had a beer and lunch and read a book. Then I decided to meander to my gate and discovered that the flight to Victoria had been canceled! So, I went to the desk to reschedule (luckily not a long line - maybe 2 people in front of me) and they said they booked me the next morning and would put me in a hotel. However, I needed to be in Victoria for these meetings about an hour before my flight left Seattle. So, they booked me on a 30-min flight to Vancouver (which left an hour later than the flight to Victoria), where I had a two-hour layover before flying to Victoria (another 30-min flight). While I was waiting in Vancouver, I had a beer and dinner - and a rat ran through the restaurant from one side of the restaurant (one terminal) to the other (another terminal). Too funny! I got to Victoria about 11pm, fourteen hours later. Gak!

I was bushed. Made me very leery about traveling for awhile.

laurie said...

OK Dee. THAT is pretty horrific. Victoria is lovely this time of year, at least. ;-)