Saturday, July 12, 2014

Plane, Trains, Buses and Fireworks II

Part 2

On my way out of Wisconsin, I joked with my colleague that I hated going through Chicago because something terrible always happens. I’ve never had an on time trip coming in or leaving Chicago. Like Ever. Pretty impressive record considering how many times I’ve flown in and out of Chicago. I’ve experienced everything from snow, broken plane toilets, broken plane, plane running into a cart, plane running out of fuel while sitting on tarmac and many other nearly impossible things that’s cause delays in my Chicago flight experience.

When I got to Chicago, I saw that there were some weather issues coming so I thought I’d be smart and change to an earlier flight to stay ahead of it. I thought I was so smart. I got the flight changed and ran to the gate just in time for them to close the door. BTW, don’t laugh at the people hauling ass through the airport. Every second counts so don’t be a dick and clear a path.

I got on the plane and the door was closed and I thought I was all good. What happened next was a fun 2 hour stay on the tarmac. I had actually fallen asleep during part of it and waking up thinking we’ve landed only to find that we haven’t moved. They had held all flights going into LaGuardia due to an impending storm. What’s funny is that the storm is in the path to NY, but both Chicago and NY were sunny and clear.

After 2 hours had passed, the pilots came over the speaker and said that they had been up since 5:30am and by law they’re not allowed to stay on the plane anymore. This was both scary (that our pilots have been up for almost 12 hours) and good because we’d get to go back to the terminal. Just to add a little bit of excitement, the pilot said that they have to leave, but we may not get to due to regulations. Luckily, this wasn’t true as I’m sure there would’ve been a riot. We were able to leave because they had cancelled our flight. The fun never seems to end.

In the announcement that the flight had been cancelled, they also gave out the number to rebook our flights. It was a mad dash for the phones as everyone was trying to get in front of the queue. My phone had died during the 2 hour wait so that was awesome. However, there was one bright spot for me. Tess and I had planned to spend the weekend in Chicago anyway and I would’ve had to fly back the next day. This would actually save me 2 flights. Score.

As I watch the passengers madly dial and put on hold, I was thinking about what some of these passengers’ stories were. Were they going to New York for work, vacation, meeting up with their long lost love or a dirty weekend with someone they’re not supposed to be with? This has always been a good way for me to past time. It’s really fascinating how many different stories there are.

I spoke with the lady sitting next to me during our wait. She was a very nice and friendly older lady from Minnesota. She was on her way to New York where her son lives. Her son was apparently very successful and has lived in several countries, most recently settling down in New York after meeting his girlfriend. The two of them were going to take a flight to London later that night for a vacation together. I was really hoping that she’d be able to make it, but after seeing how all flights were cancelled, I knew there was no way she was going to make it. Hope she was still able to have a good vacation after a delay.

I was lucky that I was on a work trip so I ended up just staying in a hotel in Chicago and it was all paid for. There are so many others not so lucky who either had to stay in crappy airport hotels or just found a corner in the airport. I went and checked with the agent that if I go ahead and cancel, I should be able to get a refund and she said yes because the flight was cancelled and they would not be able to get us out that day. After i got back and called about the refund, they said no, that's not going to happen. I was not able to get a refund because the airline said that the flight wasn’t actually cancelled cancelled. It was just delayed until the same time later so it still went (albeit 48 hours later), so no refund for me. WTF. That’s not a damn delay, that’s just the next scheduled flight, the original one did go away. I’m glad I learned this lesson on the company dollar.

As there were no flights from Chicago to New York, the same was true of flights from New York to Chicago. Tess was supposed to get on a flight the next day to come for our weekend in Chicago. As the storm didn’t move from the day before, the same situation happened with all flights being cancelled between New York and Chicago.

After finding out that she wasn’t going to be able to fly out to Chicago, she was amazingly resourceful in finding ways to get there. After exhausting several options, one finally came up. As is the case for almost anyone using this form of transportation, Greyhound buses was the last resort to get to Chicago now. A red eye bus ride that took 18 hours in cramp uncomfortable seats is more than anyone can ask. Her determination to get to Chicago to spend a weekend with me was simply an amazing feat. On the bright side, she was able to stop in cities that she would have never seen like Cleveland and Toledo. Yes, some bright side that is.

The journey seemed endless, but she finally made it to Chicago and to the hotel where we were staying. While the journey getting there was a massive struggle, we had a great time in Chicago. The weather was wonderful and we had an opportunity to do great Chicago things.

Then there’s the flight back! Just joking. The flight back was fine, just a slight delay. Way to be consistent Chicago.

1 comment:

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