The sad sad tale of today’s flights

Well, I’m stuck in Dallas for about six hours, and possibly overnight. I have to sit in the airport til 8, when I find out if there’s magically room on this flight for which I’m on standby. If I’m stuck, AA (in theory) should pay for my hotel room.

But if you saw my twitter, I am infuriated about this–not so much about the delays, because these things happen. This isn’t even the worst thing that’s ever happened to my travel. (That was my multi-day flight to Moscow which included an extra country along the way.) This is, however, possibly the STUPIDEST thing that has happened in my travels.

Shannon and I got up at 4:45 AM and caught our shuttle for a too-early flight. We were supposed to go San Francisco/Dallas/Madison, arriving at 5 PM. We had a 90 minute layover. Our flight boarded normally, then sat on the tarmac for 70 minutes from mechanical failures (a cascading series of messes and paperwork). They kept promising we’d “be moving in a few minutes,” which I stopped believing.

So once we’re in the air and approaching Dallas, it’s pretty clear that we will be landing with 20 minutes to make our connecting flight. I’m a fairly experienced traveler and reasonably able-bodied. I knew I could make a 20 minute connection, even across the airport… except I was sitting in the back of the plane.

I went to have a long, long talk with the stewardesses. I told them that on several other airlines (Alaska and Southwest come to mind), I have heard them issue a request when we deplane, along these lines: “We have six passengers with a connection of less than 30 minutes. Please allow those six to deplane first, and then the rest of you can go.” I have seen this, and everyone respects it.

The stewardesses argued with me: no, that would never work, no one will listen. I said, I have SEEN THIS and it works. This polite discussion went on for a long time, because there were 10 people in my same situation and I really wanted us all to make the connections. Eventually I had to give up, because they refused to believe this might be possible.

So, when we landed, it went like I expected; by the time I got off the plane, I had 7 minutes to make my connection. At this point, I assumed I’d missed it. But just in case, I rushed up to the gate agent and said, “We’re making the Madison connection–have we been rebooked, or should I run?” She looked at her paper and said, “Run. They know you’re coming.” I said, “Are they holding the plane?” and she said, “They know you’re coming.”

So we ran, as well as one can do while laden with luggage. We took the skytrain and then sprinted toward our gate.

And found out they left one minute before we arrived. Why the HELL did they tell us to run if they weren’t going to hold the thing?

So there I am, exhausted and sweating, listening to them saying they’ve put us standby on the only other flight to Madison, six hours later. And now we’re in Chili’s and I have a margarita and things are sort of better. If we’re stuck here, the agent already promised to cover a hotel (we’ll see if that happens.)

But COME ON. There were several ways this could have been solved. If the stewardesses had only listened to me and just made that announcement, the 10 of us who had a chance of making connections (us to Madison, eight people to Jacksonville) would have made them! But okay, let’s say that was an unreasonable request, even though other airlines do it and it works. They could have possibly held our plane five minutes, if that would not have delayed other connections. (I mean, they “knew we were coming.”) Sure, that might be unreasonable too.

But the real stupidity here was telling us to run for it when they weren’t actually helping us in any way. That. Was. Stupid. I almost hurt myself trying to get through the airport with all this luggage–and there wasn’t even any goddamn reason, since they were going to shut the doors in my face if they had to.

I mean, I was going to let all the stupidity about repacking our bag slide (they made us move a bunch of stuff from checked to carryon)… I expect that crap from airlines.

Well, later tonight I get to find out whether I get into Madison tonight or not, and whether I have to cancel my fun touristy plans tomorrow or not. Now on my second margarita.

ETA: I am touched by the people who’ve offered help. Thanks, but I don’t think there’s anyone who can help. I would need a hotel most likely anyway, due to allergies. At least AA should pay for it (in theory), and there’s a chance I can get to Madison tonight still.

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