Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Airport congestion and delays: don't I know it

I don't know that the economy is improving, but I could relate to the rest of it:
Study: Flight delays to get worse as economy improves
(CNN) -- Percy von Lipinski figures he flies about 100,000 miles a year. He knows he's going to see a healthy share of flight delays regardless of where he goes.

But he especially anticipates them at the larger airports, such as Chicago's O'Hare International -- "You can't possibly put that many planes there and not have a delay," he said -- and New York's John F. Kennedy International. So when he has a choice between two connecting cities, he said he'll generally choose the smaller one.

Delays at the larger airports, he said, are compounded by other hassles such as longer distances between terminals.

"There's wear and tear on your travel psyche -- which bus you need, which terminal you should be at," said von Lipinski, a 54-year-old Vancouver, British Columbia, resident who owns businesses around the globe. "By the time you get to your destination, you're bound to come up frazzled." [...]

Well that certainly describes my experience last month when I traveled back east to visit family. I had a stop over in Chicago. I took a night flight in, and was supposed to fly out early that morning. But the airport was fogged in until noon, by which time there was a huge backlog of delays. I overheard one passenger, who lived in Chicago, say that the fog had been like that for the past several days, and often is at this time of year.

Then on my flight back, I had to change planes in Philadelphia. The flight was delayed, so when it arrived in San Francisco, I had only twenty minutes to find the gate of my connecting flight there.

The gate number was not on my ticket. The airline told me to go to another terminal to find out which gate the flight was leaving from. They didn't tell me that the terminal was far away. They just said "follow the signs".

To do that, I had to leave the homeland security barrier, walk a long distance through another terminal, and then, go outside and walk a long way past another terminal that was empty, and closed for construction. Not another person to be seen anywhere, it was creepy. By this time I was running. I get to the next terminal, only to find there are two long hallways I have to run down before I get to the actual terminal.

By now I am wheezing. I get to the homeland security checkpoint, and can hardly speak, but have to try to explain that my flight is leaving. To their credit they put me at the head of the line so I could get through quickly, but they couldn't tell me where my flight was departing from.

By now I'm running around the terminal carrying my shoes, because my flight leaves in 8 minutes. None of the monitors listed the flight, there was no United Airlines help desk in sight, and nobody could tell me where I could find one.

I missed the flight. I never did find out which gate it was leaving from.

To make a long story short, all the flights leaving for my destination had left for the day, and all the flights for the next day were fully booked. So they booked me on a flight that evening to Portland OR, where I could catch a flight to my destination the following morning. They said I should ask U.S. Air for a hotel voucher, since it was their flight that arrived late, causing me to miss my connection.

So before leaving San Francisco, I went to the desk for U.S. Air, where an angel named "Rachel" got me a voucher for a nice room at the Ramada Inn in Portland. She was so nice, and treated me like a first-class passenger. I was very grateful.

In the end, all the airlines involved did right by me. But it sure was a stressful ordeal. I'm glad I didn't collapse from all that running around. If I ever fly again, I'm going to wear slip-on shoes, without shoe laces, so I won't have to run after planes in my socks. ;-)
     

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