Thirteen Year Old Learns The Complexities Of Flying

August 29, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

About 3 years ago, I flew on a major US airline from Chicago-O’Hare to Sacramento by myself at the age of 13. I was going to see relatives and stay with them for a week.

After checking in at ORD (and passing security with a 12 oz bottle of liquid- it was after the “liquid scare”, but that’s a different story =).

The flight to Sacramento was uneventful. I had an awesome time on the flight (I love flying =)

The flight home was a different story. My trip home was supposed to be Sacramento – Denver – Chicago. Departing at 11:30 am. When I got to the airport, the check-in counters were full for the airline I was flying. Apparently, this airline had a major computer crash on the east coast and that had a ripple effect on all of the flights (guess which airline it is now). I was booked on the flight to Denver, which was running late. There were thunderstorms in Denver. The flight was delayed.

By the time I got to the counter, my Denver flight departed. Thus, I missed my connection onward to Chicago. The agent at the counter presented me with two options:

1) Same trip (Sacramento-Denver-Chicago), departing at 6:30 am and arriving in Chicago later in the day.

2) Fly to LAX, catch red-eye to ORD, get into Chicago at 2am.

After calling my parents and discussing the matter with them, I opted to go with the first option. So the agent changed my booking, and gave me my boarding passed (I had to be at the airport by 3am, to go through security). To my surprise, I was handed two FIRST CLASS tickets!!! A 13 year old in First Class by himself!!! Unheard of!!!

So, I went back to my relative’s house to sleep. At about 2am, my uncle and I left for Sacramento Intl. I was one of the first ones in the security line. I passed through security… only to have my bag searched. That 12oz bottle of liquid was removed.

I went to the gate for my Denver flight and waited. I noticed that there was a non-stop to ORD, and I wondered why I wasn’t booked on that. Turns out it was overbooked.

At about 5:50am or so, the gate agent came to the gate for my flight. Then…. a DELAYED sign was posted on my flight. After debating whether or not to go and check on my flight, I ended up going up to the desk and stating my situation. She explained that the flight HAD NO CREW because of the computer crash the previous day. She went and booked me on the non-stop, in the exit row (I was 13, remember). Turns out it wasn’t overbooked.

So, after about 18 hours, I was on a flight home. I got into Chicago around 3pm local time. And I barely had enough minutes to call my mom (I had a prepaid phone at the time) to pick me up at ORD.

So, the whole experience hasn’t dampened my flying spirit. I would fly again at any time. (I’m going to Nicaragua with my youth group this summer… should be interesting =)


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Demotage August 29, 2009 at 11:00 pm

I guess: United!


DSD August 30, 2009 at 5:52 am

I'm going with Frontier; I have seen several east coast computer crashes when sending my step son to see his father. He flys Continential, and we laugh at the chaos over at Frontier.

Why couldn't all travelers be as calm and understanding as this kid…


saw August 31, 2009 at 8:52 am

Sounds like an ordinary day flying into or through ORD…


Daphne3620 September 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm

Wow, R.K. .. you sound like you have it all together! At 13 I would have lost my mind in the middle of the airport and just freaked out! Kids are so much more mature than when I was a youngster! Or .. maybe I was just a frail flying flower! Or .. it could have been the time that I was 8, flying alone from MSP to ORD and NWA failed to put me on a plane and I lost my mind as I saw the tail of the DC-10 disappearing in the high window of the waiting area and I was still seated in the same. Ya .. I think that kinda shot my confidence in flying, airlines and me flying alone! : D – LOL!! I did get over it eventually .. well.. the flying alone bit anyway! ; )


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