Adventures in Air Travel

So the travel day went pretty poorly. The storms shut down the runways in Dulles for 90 minutes. This is a problem, because the plane I was supposed to get on was flying from DC to MB and back. So, I was supposed to fly out at 2:30 PM and then leave DC for Portland at 5:50 PM. At 4:15 PM, my plane finally left DC for MB. I made it to Washington at 7, and had been rebooked for a two hops, to O’Hare and then to Portland. Now, with a big chunk of the east coast grounded part of the arfternoon, it was a fiasco. There were several hundred people in the customer service line. It took people hours to get to the counter. I waited in the line, but noticed this kiosk that said “If you missed these connection, call from here.” I went and picked up the phone, on which no ever came. However, there was the same self-service checkin kiosk like you get when you first get there. I used it, and saw that I had been rebooked to fly to Chicago at 8 am and leave for Portland at 11, getting to PDX around 1:30 PM. I was able to choose an eariler itinerary, leaving Dulles at 6 AM.

Here’s where it got interesting. I went to the gate I thought my flight was leaving from. I found a lot of people trying to get to Chicago, several of whom were booked on a flight that was like 6 hours late at the time and still not flying. They were trying to standby on the flight that was soon to leave. This gave me the idea to try to standby on their flight (they all got on the other flight) and lo and behold, it worked! That meant sleeping in Chicago rather than DC. The plan was to try to stay at the Hilton hooked on to O’Hare, but they are full. So, I’m about to try to get the horrible kind of sleep you get camped out at a gate. Here’s a hint to airport officials – turn the damn PA down at 2 AM. Anyone in the airport at that time isn’t listening to smooth jazz and doesn’t care about the TSA announcements. We’re stranded and trying to fricking sleep, dudes. I know we are on orange goddamn alert. Why does that thing have to be at 120 dB every 7 minutes?

Overall, I was one of the least upset people at Dulles. Although I wanted to be in PDX tonight, I’m not missing anyone’s wedding or funeral or anything. I won’t even miss my first panel tomorrow if this flight leaves on time. A lot of people were red-eyed and weeping, so I got off better than them. I got to hang out and talk to interesting people (Hi Helen and Kelsey and the older couple from Puerto Rico.) I bought a dozen donuts at a stand and handed them out to my fellow stranded travelers. They came in handy later on when I used them as bribes for gate agents to help me out. I learned from that A&E Airline TV show that you do better creating co-conspirators than yelling at gate agents. It worked for me, at least.

The only thing that pissed me off was that the gate agents in Myrtle Beach couldn’t reroute me or tell me anything about my situation. “Fly to Dulles, and those people have more resources than us.” That’s pretty thin, I don’t want to have to fly to another city to get a question answered. As it turns out, if I was flying MYR->ORD->PDX, I probably could have slept in my own bed and taken the 5:30 AM flight to Chicago, the same one I used to take when I was telecommuting. Not having those kinds of options presented to me really sucked.

Goodnight, inkernets that I paid $7 for. I’ll try to sleep, although I doubt that it will much happen. Did you know we are on orange alert?

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father. Member of the Podcast Hall of Fame class of 2022.

2 thoughts on “Adventures in Air Travel”

  1. I guess you’ve discovered one of the downsides of not living in a major market, hmmm? 🙂

    All my flights out of Atlanta go straight to where I need to go. In 20+ years of flying I can’t recall EVER having to make a connection in another city, except for overseas travel …

    Re public address system: the last time I was stuck in an airport for a few hours, I had to hear “caution! the moving sidewalk is ending!” every 20 seconds. It’s kind of interesting what kind of low-grade psychosis that kind of constant stimulus puts you into.

  2. If the cost of living in the Grand Strand vs ATL is spending a night in O’Hare every so often, I’ll pay it.

    Honestly, I think the time periods when there are no scheduled flights they should lower the PA for music and non-operational announcements. Anyway spending the night in the airport is not there because they want to be, so give them a break and make sleep possible.

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