Freeway Accident Leads To Missed Flight

May 2, 2010

in Airport Stories

I was traveling from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Ontario, California, to visit my family. United Airlines had the best bang for the buck at the time, but it meant a stop-over in San Francisco. I was OK with that.

Usually I give myself a good hour or more to get to the airport and get checked in. In past experience, I’ve always been way too early, and always had to sit around for a good hour or so. Check-in and going through security at the Salt Lake International Airport usually goes very quickly. This time, however, turned out to be a different story!

On my way to the airport, there was a bad accident on the freeway, and traffic was slowed to a crawl. By the time I got to the airport, I had 15 minutes to check my bag before the cut-off time. When I got to the counter, there was a long line of people waiting to be checked in, but there was only one agent working the counter! And sure enough, by the time she got to me, it was past the cut-off time. Ugh!

The only other flight was a non-stop flight from Salt Lake to LAX. Ugh! My parents absolutely HATE driving to LAX! I had joked with my parents a few days before and told them, “Just wait! With my luck I’ll be routed to LAX!” My mom said, “You better NOT be!” I found a payphone and called my folks. They thought I was joking! “Oh you’re kidding! You know how much we hate going there! (sigh) alright…. we’ll pick you up there.”

I got put on an itty bitty Learjet plane. I sat next to a very sharp-looking young man named Phillip, who was traveling from Idaho down to San Diego to meet up with his wife. We had an enjoyable and lively conversation, chatting about crazy customers we’ve dealt with while doing inbound phone support for IT jobs.

It turns out that the detour to LAX was actually a blessing in disguise, because that evening, there was a major meltdown with air traffic control, which would have delayed the flight coming in from San Francisco!

The return trip was interesting. I didn’t know this, but apparently if you miss your initial flight, your entire reservation, including the return trip gets cancelled! Imagine my surprise when I went to check in at ONT for the trip back to Salt Lake, only to discover I had no reservation! United was very accommodating though. They found me a seat. Once again I was on an itty bitty Learjet. I sat next to a very delightful woman who was a nurse at a hospital in San Francisco. She looked a lot like Polly Holiday (Flo from the sitcom Alice)! We had an enjoyable conversation; she talked about her job and how much she loved being a nurse.

I’ve often wondered whatever became of some of the interesting people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting while on a plane.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Julie May 2, 2010 at 7:37 am

I wonder if taking a picture of the ticket counter with your cell phone when you arrive (maybe get a shot of a clock) would help to show that you were there in time.

If the airline didn't exchange your ticket right it will cause the system to cancel the return. Glad that UA fixed it for you since it was their mistake.


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