When Life's the Pits, There's a Cherry Somewhere
Friday, November 12, 2010
This is an email I wrote to a friend. She was very concerned about my day of travel when I had sent her a quick email earlier in the day Thursday, that 5 hours after I was to be in the air I was still sitting in the Denver airport. While it would make a great comedy shtick now that it's over, it made me very frustrated and angry at the time......
Hi from Outer Banks. Made it here, tired but alive. Karen it's a long story....
Flight #1 - was to leave at 6a to Cincinnati and after my layover I'd make it into Norfolk at 1p. Then I'd be able to drive down to Outer Banks in the lovely daylight hours.
The Delta gate attendant announces about 10 minutes before the flight should be leaving that plane has a mechanical issue, but the repair crew is on the way. Delayed an hour, then 2, then "they are having to fly the part in from Atlanta and it will arrive at 12:30, so we are figuring on a 1:00p departure," with a "the flight isn't cancelled but we are booking everyone on other flights to their destination. Wait until you are called up to the podium." So I wait. They call up all these other final destinations, but not Norfolk. After awhile a mom & daughter who are also going to Norfolk, head up anyway. When they are done, the mom tells me they got the last 2 seats on the flight to Atlanta with a connection to Norfolk arriving at 5p. OH GREAT! Then the gate attendant starts talking about the people only going to Cincinnati. Wait, what about me!!! So I head up. "Do you have a question?" in a how dare you come up before I call you. I tell her I'm supposed to be going to Norfolk, and haven't been called up. "Oh." She turns to her computer and tickety tick, tickety tick, tickety tick. Finally, she finds me a United flight that I can "fly standby" that will arrive in Cincinnati with 35 minutes to make my connection to Norfolk (back on Delta). But if I can't get on, she has confirmed me on another set of flights through Cincinnati that will leave Denver at 1:45 and Cincinnati at 7p and get me "to Norfolk at 9p". Not my ideal arrival time, but at least an alternative if I can't get on the United flight, so cool, frustrating but cool. She prints out a "flight coupon (aka ticket voucher)" and the info sheet and I head over to the B concourse from concourse C.
Of course the United gate is all the way at the far end, gate #91.
Flight #2 - I get to the United gate and am put on the standby list (I'm #2 so maybe I'll get a seat) but she stresses that the flight is over-sold. All I can do is wait until 30 to 45 minutes before flight time. So I wait. Finally, I hear my name called, she asks for the flight coupon and voila I have a boarding pass and seat for the United flight. Now I'll soon be on my way, I just have to wait to board. Right? Wrong! About 30 minutes before the flight they announce that there is a mechanical problem with the plane, but the repair crew is on board. 15 minutes later another announcement... They can't get this plane fixed so they are bringing in another plane, everyone head down to gate 88; mass migration. Now I'm a bit concerned because my Delta connection was going to leave only 35 minutes after the United flight was to land. I head to the gate attendant and talk to him. Low and behold the pilot comes up and I get to talk to him directly. I ask him if I will make my connection. His response, "only if Murphy's Law doesn't kick in and the Delta flight is delayed, kind of a reverse Murphy for me." I had looked online and it was scheduled as "on time." So as we are talking, he informs me that even if the United flight had been on time, I probably would have missed the connection anyway because I would have to get off the plane, walk all the way down the concourse, walk the connector between concourses (Delta is on a different one than United) and be to the gate before they pull back the jet bridge 10 minutes before the flight. He says, "No Way would that be possible." Great! Just Great! But I thought I could catch the 7p flight at least.
Flight #3 (the alternative) - So the United gate attendant does some checking to see when the next flight to Norfolk is from Cincinnati, while I'm talking with the pilot. He informs me there isn't one, that I'd be stranded in Cincinnati. I tell him that the Delta attendant said there was one that would leave around 7. Nope, the last one from any airline leaves at 3:35 (the Delta connection). So I go get the printout the Delta attendant gave me and with a little more critical eye we discover that she had sent me to Detroit from Cincinnati, not Norfolk. The United attendant does find me a flight from Denver to D.C. arriving in Norfolk at 12:30a. I figure I need to talk to Delta, so I call them. They can't help me over the phone (I won't go there), I have to go talk to a gate attendant. Back to the United guy, I tell him and he says that if they can't help me he will make sure I get to Dulles and through to Norfolk, just come see him. Thank you, United!!!
Trip back to concourse C and Delta to find out what the f*k is going on. I get back to the Delta gate, and the girl there asks if she can help me, and I tell her she probably doesn't "want" to talk with me. Just then the one that sent me to United comes back. She's like, "oh, I remember you," but not in the nicest way. So I tell her about the United flight being delayed and that I'd miss the connection. She's like (I'm using "like" because that donates to me a snooty tone), "well I told you you could catch one that would get you in at 9." Ok, I'm so pissed by this time the it's all I can do to hold it together. I tell her that United checked and there is NOT another flight to Norfolk and... she starts to interrupt me... and the flight she was talking about, went to Detroit, NOT Norfolk, and I show her the flight list. Boy did that catch her off guard. She starts tickety ticking her computer and she finally says, "Oh, you'd have to fly from Cincinnati to Detroit, then to Norfolk arriving at 11:30p. She says it as though it was all the computer's fault, and she had actually only confirmed seats for me through Detroit. So can you see me deep breathing so a not to strangle her???!!!! More tickety ticking.
Flight #4 - Now she comes up with a flight leaving Denver at 1:22p through Minneapolis arriving in Norfolk at 10:30p. Whatever! I'll take it. She then asks me for the green paper. Green paper? I didn't take a color survey when she gave me the papers earlier. I tell her all I have is the list of flights she gave me and the boarding pass from United. "Oh, in order to take this flight I need the GREEN paper. The first United person kept the flight coupon when she gave me my boarding pass. Well, I have to go get it, I won't be allowed to board without it. She prints out the boarding pass for both flights and the flight coupon and she's like, "this is a green paper" showing it to me like I'm a major idiot. Strangle her, don't strangle her!!!! She then prints out a meal voucher like she was doing me a favor. $7... $7 that's it, where in DIA can you get a good lunch for $7? I guess all my hassles were worth only $7 to Delta.
Trip back to United and the B concourse, all the way down to gate 88. Yeah, friendly United guy is still there! I tell him what's up. He doesn't have the paperwork from the flight, but instead of sending me off to gate 91 to check there, he calls. No she doesn't have it either, the supervisor picked up already. Frustration rate continues to climb!!! He tells me where to find the supervisor and I head up to the supervisor desk. She is on the phone and she has to get to an out going plane right away, but she will get someone to help me. She gets off the phone and calls over another supervisor right away. At this point I lose it, and have a little cry. She is very understanding and waits patiently until I can pull it together. I explain the whole thing in a much shortened version, stressing that I've gotten more and much nicer help from the United guy than any Delta people. She looks in her envelope pile and can't find the envelope from that flight. Of course I'm envisioning having to go somewhere else now, but no she gets on the phone and asks where it might be. She opens the mail out drawer and pulls out a bag, goes through it and finds the envelope and my flight coupon ugh, GREEN paper. She happily hands it to me and wishes me much better luck with the rest of my day.
I trek back to concourse C to my new Delta gate after stopping by McD's and getting fruit & walnuts (beware there's nuts in it), small fries and a coffee, total $6.49. Guess you can eat for under $7, just not much.
We boarded on time, but then sat at de-icing for 30 minutes before taking off. Arrival to Minneapolis and then to Norfolk were uneventful. Same with getting the car and my 90 mile drive to Outer Banks, my "nagrivator" Simon to keeping me company. Got into the hotel at 1:00 a.m., only 10 hours later than I should have. After a couple texts to my kids, it was bed time.
Today on the other hand was awesome! Slept until 10:00, showered, sent out my "arrived alive" email, stopped at CVS to get a snack and drink then went to the expo. I worked a 4 hour shift handing out race bibs and had the best time. One of my work mates even shared her homemade turkey sandwich with me. I met amazing, sweet, personable people and really enjoyed the day. Afterward, I got my race stuff, shopped the expo, hit the grocery store where I got some stuff for dinner & the upcoming races then went back to the hotel. Nuked my TV dinner and spent the rest of the time on this email. Now it's time to get my stuff ready for tomorrow, put up my feet and veg. While the "good" had a shorter write-up, it had a much larger impact and turned what was starting out as a crappy weekend into a weekend that, hopefully will be just like today, wonderful!