A Flight From Hell In Five Acts

December 31, 2009

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

Prelude

We were scheduled to go to a National meeting in Tampa on 9/16/06. Our flight and hotel arrangements were made months ahead of time.

September 11, 2006
4:30 pm – automated phone call from Delta airlines at work. It was rapidly giving me a lot of information about a schedule change for September 12. The new schedule change involved the cancellation of our flight segment from Atlanta to Tampa. Therefore they were routing us.

Act I

September 12, 2006
I left my house at 4am for a nice leisurely 45 minute drive to the airport where I was to meet my travel partner and we were to catch a flight at 6am. Since the Bloomington airport only requires an hour check in, time was sufficient.

After presenting our valid passports at the ticket counter (at 4:50am), the agent proceeded to type on her keyboard. After several minutes of typing and very peculiar looks on her face, she asked another agent for assistance. When the two of them could not figure out the problem, they phoned for a supervisor to come and assist. This really triggered my curiosity, so I asked if there was a problem with our reservation. The original agent said that there had been a schedule change yesterday. I told her that I was aware of that, not happy about it – but aware of it. She then proceeded to inform us that original schedule change was put into the record incorrectly and that they were unable to issue boarding passes for the (now) 3 segment flights.

At 5:50am, the team of people working on this issue managed to get the boarding passes to print, however mentioning that there was still a problem that needed to be fixed in our record prior to our arrival into Atlanta. Trusting that these agents would do that for us, we took our boarding passes and proceeded to the security check in. Stopping dead in my tracks, I noticed the security line was longer than I had EVER seen at this small airport.

I walked up to the area where the security person was checking boarding passes and I.D.’s and mentioned to her that we had a 6am flight. Her only reply was that we could cut in front of someone if they agreed to it. Fortunately a lady allowed us to enter in front of her, however she made very nasty comments behind us the whole time we were in line.

After finally getting through the security line, we put our shoes back on, collected our belongings and took off running up the escalator to our gate. Upon arriving to the gate area, we notice a lot of passengers sitting in the waiting area. The flight had been delayed. Thinking back on the day, I wish that had been the worst thing that had happened! Eventually the flight takes off and we are on our way to Atlanta.

Act II

The pilot had announced that bad weather had backed up air traffic in Atlanta (like that is something new?), so we were semi-prepared for what came next. We were boarded onto the plane for Greenville. This is a short 27 minute flight, so it is a small plane with no snack or beverage service. After we had been sitting in the plane for quite awhile, the crew announces that we are awaiting a departure slot. The hairs stood up on my arms. This was drastically cutting into the allotted 28 minute connecting time we had in Greenville.

As the natives began to get restless, the flight attendants passed out extra small bottles of warm water. I am guessing that was to be our pacifier. The flight finally managed to take off with a very slim margin to make our connecting flight. I asked the flight attendant if she had any word on connections. She informed us that she did not know, but thought we should be OK since all the flights at Hartsfield and other nearby airports had been delayed all morning.

Act III

Immediately upon getting off the plane at Greenville, we headed as quickly as possible to the gate where we were to depart from. As we approached the gate, I noticed there was absolutely no one anywhere – no passengers, gate attendants or even a janitor. Glancing up to the screen, the flight was listed as “Deployed.” Go figure, it would be the only flight leaving on time today.

One redeeming quality of this episode was that the airline had already re-protected us on another flight. Since the flight we had just missed was the only direct flight to Tampa, we would have to route back through Atlanta again. Joy filled my heart… Hartsfield twice in the same day! (Now does that sound sarcastic?!?)

Obviously we were not going to make the 1pm meeting. There’s still the nice dinner and cocktail party at 6pm.

By this time, we were past the aggravated stage and all we could do is laugh hysterically! After all, what else could happen?!?

 Act IV

I had to ask, didn’t I ?!? We had a wait for our next flight back to Atlanta. After locating our next departure gate, we headed off to use the restrooms, get a cold drink, etc. then found a nice comfortable spot to sit down.

Our next flight boarded close to on-time, but of course, the flight had to be delayed. The bad weather had backed up traffic in and out of Hartsfield and the pilot announced that we had to wait to for an available slot in Atlanta. Repeat course – after a long wait on the plane, the flight attendants served us a small bottle of very warm water.

Our flight eventually took off and landed uneventfully in Atlanta with time to spare for another restroom break and a quick cold drink.

 Act V

Anyone that has ever traveled through Hartsfield Airport knows what is coming next. Has there EVER been a flight (connecting or otherwise) out of Atlanta that was not delayed or cancelled?!?

By the time our flight actually got taken off for Tampa, we were so grateful that we were on the way that we were not even sad that we were also going to miss the dinner. The WHOLE meeting day was shot anyway!

Our flight into Tampa landed and we departed the plane at 7:45pm. The last transfer to the resort departed at 8pm. Our only hope was that our checked bags made it to Tampa on an earlier flight.

My travel companion went to the baggage carousel and I headed to the airline office. Finally, a stroke of luck ??? Our bags were sitting right outside the office. I grabbed them and we headed for the door to ground transportation. We both needed to use the restroom, so my travel companion headed that way while I went outside to look for our transportation. I found the rep just as my partner came out the door. I told the Carlson lady that I needed to run to use the restroom, but she said there was not time for that. She shooed us to the bus and it immediately departed for the resort. It still was not 8pm, but I guess they were wanting to go home.

After a 20 minute bumpy bus ride, we arrived at the Saddlebrook Resort. Because the discounted rate at Saddlebrook was 190.00 plus tax per night, we had made reservations to stay at the Best Western just up the road. We were either going to catch a ride with the other office manager, who had rented a car – or just take a cab to the other hotel. However I was still needing to use a restroom, so I went up to the desk at Saddlebrook and asked where the nearest restroom was. The desk clerk suggested that I go ahead and get registered first. I really did not want to let her know that I was not staying at their resort, so I just told her that it was imperative I use the restroom first.

While we were in the restroom, we called the cell phone of the other office manager. They were just at the exit of the resort and were turning around immediately to pick us up. Ten minutes later, they pulled up to the front door. We loaded our bags in the trunk and took refuge in the cool air conditioned car.

On the way to the Best Western, our rescuers wanted to stop somewhere so we could get something to eat. We both graciously declined. More than anything, we just wanted to get checked into our hotel, shower and go to bed.

Check in at the Best Western could not have went any smoother. The desk clerk was extremely friendly and efficient, so we were in our room in just a few minutes. After getting off our feet for a few minutes, we decided to call out for a pizza. It took only four phone calls to find a pizza place that would deliver to the area we were in. “45 minutes for delivery” is what we were quoted – plenty of time to unpack and get a quick shower in.

I was the first to open my suitcase. As usual, things were in a big disarray – but as I started looking through the clothes to find my pajamas, I realized there was a much bigger issue at hand. Everything in the bag was wet. At first I thought it was from the gels, liquids and pastes that we can no longer tote in our carry on bag. But closer examination proved that to be inaccurate. It appeared that the bag had been sat in water – possibly on one of the tarmacs or torrential downpours they had seen today? Out of curiosity, we had to check my travel partners bag as well – same as mine – everything was wet.

We hurriedly starting hanging everything up – on hangers, backs of chairs, light fixtures and anything else we could use. The next day’s meeting began bright and early and it would be nice to have dry clothes when we left.

I found one long sleeved sweatshirt (that I had brought to wear back home on the return flight) that was a little dryer than most of the other clothes. So even though it was very hot and humid, I put it on to sleep in.

In the meantime, no pizza delivery. Still no pizza delivery. And STILL no pizza delivery.

Finally at 10:30 pm a little knock at the door – it was our pizza. By this time, we are too tired to think about eating much of anything. We each had a slice and a half of cold pizza, then tucked in for the night.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Jane December 31, 2009 at 4:48 pm

Dayum. Trying to be the next Shakespeare?

Reply

Beans December 31, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I hope you didn't have to pay for the cold pizza.

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Ben December 31, 2009 at 11:21 pm

Goodness you are a boring person. The site is "Flights from hell", not "long boring stories encompassing an entire day's journey including outside the airport from purgatory".

Reply

TheBigM January 1, 2010 at 1:18 am

I enjoyed it, a good story with an amazing number of bad things happening. Happy New Year.

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Aaron January 1, 2010 at 4:34 am

I think this is indeed a flight from hell.

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The Other Aaron January 1, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Long, and confusing. If this "National" meeting was scheduled for 9/16/06, why were you concerned to arrive in time for events on the 12th? Who is the "other office manager"? (Or the original office manager, for that matter) What do cold pizza and expensive hotel rooms have to do with flights from hell? Have you never had a flight affected by bad weather before?

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TheBigM January 2, 2010 at 8:13 am

Some people think they're damned columnists or special reviewers. Just enjoy the story, don't nit-pick. If something is definitely bogus then yes, point it out but otherwise just enjoy the stories. This is not 'Pick a story apart dot com'.

Happy New Year anyway.

Reply

wodoggie January 2, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I enjoyed not reading the story because it was too long and the first paragraph was boring.

Reply

Max January 3, 2010 at 8:27 am

I enjoyed wodoggie not complaining that they didn't like the story and just reading something else. (hint, hint.)

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life can suck, live February 5, 2010 at 2:02 am

BEN SHUT THE F****ing UP !

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