Travel Voucher Bait Turns Into Big Bust

February 13, 2010

in Weather Stories

In the winter of 2000, my mom, dad, sister, and I flew from San Diego back to Michigan, where most of my extended family lives. My parents were raised in Michigan and this winter was the most snow they had seen ever. The day it stopped was the day we were going to leave, flying out of Grand Rapids to DFW and on back to San Diego.

We get to the airport for a late afternoon flight to DFW. Right at the gate, they are offering travel vouchers plus $200. My sister wanted to fly back to Michigan that summer with her best gal-pal, so the offer piqued the interest of my sister and mom. My dad and I had tickets the next night to the Holiday Bowl, and did not need the vouchers, so we were flying no matter what. They raised the dollar amount a little bit more, and my mom and sister were hooked when it reached $400 plus the vouchers. They would not fly that night, but go the next night into O’Hare and fly first class from O’Hare to San Diego. My aunt came and picked them up as my dad and I flew on to San Diego, flying in a sardine can (we are both 6’5″) from Grand Rapids, MI to DFW.

So my sister and my mom arrive the next afternoon at Grand Rapids and as they take off, in another sardine can, snow begins to fall. They get into Chicago without delay but the snow is coming down hard.

They board at the normal time and are sitting in first class and ordering the drinks. They watch the plane get de-iced three times and finally the FAA comes aboard saying that the flight was cancelled because the flight crew would be up in the air past the amount of time they were legally able to be. At that same moment, O’Hare closed due to weather. Because it was the airline’s fault that the flight was canceled, my mom and sister got put up in a nice hotel… with no luggage. The luggage had traveled with my dad and me.

Fast forward to the next day and my sister and my mom board their flight to San Diego, not in first class, in the back of the plane, in their same clothes from the night before (after some bath tub cleaning in the hotel room).

Their flight was supposed to come in at 8:30pm and I started tracking it online around 7:30 to be able to tell my dad when to go pick them up (we do the circle the drop off and pick up, we don’t do parking lots.). I tell my dad to leave about a half hour before. Right as the garage door closes, the flight path does a quick curve up to Los Angeles, not the gradual slope down from Chicago to San Diego. This was the era before cell phones, so I could not call my dad back.

Probably at the same time, on the flight, the pilot comes over the PA to say, “We’ve been fogged out of San Diego, we are being diverted to Ontario!” My sister (15 years old) yells out, “We’re going to Canada?!” to the amusement of those sitting around her, including my mom. (Just in case you are still confused like my sister, there is an Ontario, CA that is about a 38 miles inland from LAX.) They would not wait the fog out, but take buses down from Ontario, a 3 hour tour.

So my mom and sister arrived 2 days after my dad and I did, for travel vouchers and cash, but not riding first class.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

david February 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm

2000 not a cell phone era? well umm yeah it was, i remember every kid at the malls going oooooo look at what my phone does!! i can play snake wooooo

2000, people had cell phones, maybe not in the isolated areas but everyone in big cities does


poco February 14, 2010 at 9:54 am

Meh. They gambled and lost.


MF February 15, 2010 at 1:32 am

why has it taken you 10 years to tell this quite frankly – very boring story?


Amber May 20, 2016 at 4:03 pm

What's your point? They got $400, travel vouchers, a free night in a hotel and a couple extra days away from home. Unless they had to be somewhere in that time, sounds like they ultimately got a good bargain. Also, people should learn to pack a light back-up outfit in their carry-on, that way if luggage is lost you have at least 1 change of clothes to last until you can get more.


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