another misAdventure

"We are all of us living in the shadow of Manhattan."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cancellation Shuffle

In which, I arrive home just a little late.

Tuesday morning, I did two conference calls from my hotel room as I'm finishing packing, check out which still on the second call, then work in the lobby for a while (WiFi in the lobby). Then I grabbed a late lunch (California Pizza Kitchen) and started driving to the airport for my 6:30 flight.

I got only about a mile down the highway when I got a call - automated alert from United that they'd canceled my flight.

So, I find an exit and a spot to park as quickly as I could, then called home to talk to Kalen. I'd missed the customer service phone number on the message, but I knew that the same message would have come in at home (if I'd thought about it, the message was also on my voice mail at work).

I called customer service, and they could get me booked on the 5:03 flight. Huh? My flight was canceled, but an earlier one was available?

Anyway, could I get to the airport in time for the 5:03 flight, they asked. It was 3:01, I was a half hour from the airport, had to return a rental car, and I knew I'd have to have my bag checked about an hour before the flight time or they might bump me. It would be close, but ... sure ... I can just make it.

Avis was a bit slower checking in than normal because lots of people wound up returning their cars at the same time. And, I hate the rental car set-up in Philadelphia for Avis. The bus had to go all the way back out of the airport area to get turned around back to the terminal, and then I had to get to the fourth stop to get off for United. I kept checking my watch as the time ticked closer.

When I got to the terminal, though, there was zero wait for United check-in, so I was safe. I got checked in with a few minutes to spare, and already knew the flight was sure to be delayed anyway.

The 5:03 flight got delayed to a 7:00 take-off, so only about a half-hour later than my original flight. So, I didn't even really have to hang around the terminal more than I'd figured on anyway, and we got into Chicago at about 8:30, only about 20 minutes late all told.

The 2:30 flight Philly to Chicago took off at 6:15 from Philly, and got in about 15 minutes before my flight. And I'm sure that some people that were booked on the 5:03 flight hopped over to that 2:30 flight on standby, as the 5:03 flight I took wound up with some empty seats. Right after their flight boarded I realized they took several standbys, so I went over to the automated kiosk, checked seats and was able to move from a middle seat in the last row to the window seat further forward. And, the seat next to me wound up empty. So, not only was I barely late, but I was in more comfort than expected.

The vagarities of why my flight was canceled and the other flights let through are beyond mortal ken. The reason seemed to be that United got a few landing slots trimmed in Chicago due to weather problems much earlier in the day. Why my original flight rather than one of those others -- who knows.

Anyway, I'm home again. Yay!


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