Delay Triggers Traveler’s Descent Into Hell

April 7, 2017

in Delay/Cancellation Stories

I guess getting home 26 hours late counts as hell. I had a nice 10 days in California and my United flights out, SCE to ORD to LAX and mid-trip LAX to SFO, were just fine. The return flight SFO to ORD to SCE was a bit of a haul. Share a cab and arrive at SFO early 8AM for a 10:40am flight, eat breakfast with a colleague, and head to the gate. I knew things were a bit wonky because I’d gotten a couple of emails indicating a plane switch and a seat switch. No apparent problems though, we’re scheduled to leave on time. Then it begins.

The flight is delayed an hour, then two. OK. I’m going to miss my connection in Chicago which is the last flight home that evening. Jog over to customer care and wait in line. I try all options (different flight, different arrival airport, etc). The agent plugs away frantically at the keyboard but nothing for me on this Sunday. I bail and call United directly. They’re helpful, but the best they can do is get me on an American Airlines flight that takes off in 35 minutes in another terminal. I’m not going to make that. So, time to make reservations at an O’Hare hotel.

Call the Hilton and it takes two tries to get through their automated menu gauntlet which requires me to type my life story via my phone. I get a room, then get immediately switched to a “promotions agent” who wants to sign me up for Hilton Honors and send me a discount on a vacation hotel of my choice. Eventually I stop her and say I’m not interested. She asks me why I was transferred to her but then says, “Have a good day.” That’s fine, I have emails to make because I have to cancel all my Monday meetings, etc.

Eventually my SFO-ORD flight boards over 4 hours late due to computer problems. I’m in group 5, having been switched from row 29 to row 44. It’s a 777, but the gate agents keep announcing that it’s a 777 with a configuration that has small overhead bins. By the middle of boarding group 3, they insist all remaining carry on bags must be checked. Oh well. I check my bag as I board and once I get back to row 44, I see that there is enough bin space for like 6 or 7 bags above my row. In fact, I’ve been in many 777s and the bins looked as big in this plane as they have in the others I’ve flown in. I rush back to see if I can claim my bag but I’m too late.

Off to Chicago with the in-seat video monitors not functioning (but apparently all the other computer stuff is now OK). It’s hot in the plane so I turn on the air nozzle for my seat. After about 10 minutes the guy next to me stands up and says, “I’m going to turn this off because it’s blowing on me.” I tell him not to turn it off, as it is my seat’s air and I would like it on. He repeats that it is blowing on him. So I say just move it so it’s not. He pushes it all the way forward so it’s not hitting him or me, just the guy in the row in front of us. That’s enough. Glare of death from me. “Do you think that is blowing on me?” I stand up and adjust it and recommend he move over since there is an empty seat in the row (I’m the aisle – 44D). He moves.

Get to ORD around 8:30pm and head to baggage claim. The alternative was waiting for a 777 worth of passengers in line to argue for vouchers. I found out later that folks who waited got $40.00. Skip that, the restaurants at the hotel close at 10PM. Eventually I collect my bag and head to the Hilton. There is one person checking people in and apparently the guests they are serving do not have a reservation and seem to want something that cannot be offered (for 20 minutes). Finally a second person arrives and the two of us in line with reservations get checked in quickly ($290 with tax, etc.). By the time I dumped my bags in my room and am headed for the restaurant, there was a huge line of people from my flight at the front desk. I guess these are the folks that waited in line for $40.00 vouchers. I don’t know how many of them got $290 rooms, or got to eat for that matter. Off to the bar for a nice steak and martini. I am officially out of clean clothes.

The next day my rebooked ORD-SCE flight doesn’t leave until 2:05pm, but I discover the hotel is even pricier than the airport, so I go through security for Terminal 2 around 10AM and aim to get some breakfast. Happily waiting to get home, my flight switches to delayed status around noon due to a late arriving plane. In fact, it’s going to be over 2 hours late. Geez. OK so now we’re scheduled to leave around 4:15pm.

The plane finally arrives, and they board us quickly. The FA announces that there is some routine maintenance (e. g., oil) being completed that would have been done earlier, but they were late and we should be off shortly. Maintenance guy walks down the aisle and into the lavatory. After awhile he walks back up to the cockpit and then exits. FA comes on to announce we need to deplane in order for maintenance to replace a broken lavatory door… if they can find a new one. Fortunately they did and after another 2+ hour delay we board again. I mention to others that “everyone on the plane has to use the bathroom on this flight” which gets a few chuckles. When the pilot comes on he also says, “We have a brand new bathroom door and I invite everyone to check it out.” We finally take off and I get home at 7PM on Monday night. I was originally scheduled to be home at 5PM on Sunday night. Twenty-six hours late and wearing the same clothes for 2 days.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jake April 7, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Hard to follow but sounds like a nightmare!


Albert Trotter April 20, 2017 at 9:09 am

ahhh such a miserable condition you went through..i can totally understand your condition because back in 2009 my flight from chicago to new york was 5 days delayed because of weather is still fresh in my mind


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