Saturday, May 16, 2009

Flying Travails...

So I'm now at the point where I travel 55% of the time. How do I know this? My coworker came up to me sometime two weeks ago and said, "Hey, I think you travel more than all of us do. I wanna see...(sound of clicking on the computer looking up calendars)... 55%!! Sheesh."

I'm not sure how to feel about it. On the one hand, it really shows just how much idle time I'm spending on airplanes. On the other hand, it feels like 75%.

This most recent time, I had an experience I had never had before. My coworker and I boarded a plane going from Denver to Chicago. We were each connecting to a different city from that point on. I had gotten all settled into my seat, with pen and crossword puzzle in hand. Then I saw him coming back my way.

"Hey, I just got a message from United saying that they booked me on another plane that is going to Dulles, and then to Greensboro. Do you think I need to get off this plane?"

"I don't know. I've never gotten off one plane and then gotten on another."

"I know... hm. I think I'll go back there and ask the flight attendant."

He came back and said he was getting his stuff and going. Apparently, the weather in Chicago was disintegrating quickly, and his flight to Greensboro was canceled. Great.

"Uh. See ya. Have a great flight!"

And then I sat there, looking at my crossword puzzle clues, but not registering, because I was thinking about my own flight. I started checking flight stati (plural for status?) on my Blackberry. And then I saw it. Another route displayed beneath my original flight plan.

I also got up. "Excuse me," I interrupted two flight attendants bantering with each other, "I think I may have to also get off this plane." I showed her my blackberry display and she said,

"Take all your stuff and get off this plane. Chicago has bad weather and things are getting canceled. I would take that flight, if I were you." Enough said. As I gathered all my belongings, I could see the concern on the other passengers' faces. One guy had already up and left, and now someone else was actually getting off the plane.

"What's going on?!?!" They cried.

"I don't know, but I know I won't be getting out of Chicago tonight!" Perhaps a poor choice of words. I left behind me a sea of panic.

I walked out with an agent who offered to escort me and see me through. As the gate agent was checking my flight and status, he said, "Boy, it's a good thing you didn't stay on that plane. You would have been stuck in Chicago! Your connection got canceled!!" He almost said it a little too gleefully...

I walked over down to the other gate. There, my coworker was listening to his iPod and waiting for the plane to board. He turned his head. "Hey, what are you doing here?!?"

"I decided I needed to check after you deplaned. I'm in the same situation with you. If you hadn't said anything, I would have just kept on my merry way."

The first thing I did upon my return, after kissing my husband hello, was to log on my computer and sign up for email alerts on my flights. It seems that flying 55% of the time is not enough to protect you from impending bad travel experiences. I wonder what does...

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