I was all set yesterday to head home to visit my folks, and got to the airport early to see my flight was delayed by 20-minutes. Since my folks live in a small town, I had to switch planes, and was hoping that 40-minutes would be enough to get to the small plane, which was in a terminal clear across the airport. About an hour and half into the flight the pilot came on the intercom and said “Folks — there is some bad weather over the airport, and we are going to have to sit up here for 30- to 60-minutes while the bad weather clears.” I immediately knew my connection was toast, and was just hoping to get a hotel room to relax for the night and start fresh the next day (it was late in the evening). Well, after 30-minutes of flying in circles, the pilot came back on and said “Folks — due to the weather, we are going to re-route the plane to Ohio until the weather passes.”
After we touched down in Ohio, the airline (Northwest) told us we needed to stay on the plane (we were forced to sit on the plane for 3-hours), offered no beverage service, and then said that we would be waiting in Ohio for a “short” period of time while the weather cleared. Well, we never ended up taking off from Ohio, and the folks at Northwest* informed me that the next date they could get me to my destination was Saturday at 7pm. Since I was coming home on Monday, and didn’t want to sit in Ohio for two days, I called Delta to see if they had any flights. They did, and it turns out several other carriers had open seats as well. I was fortunate to be able to make it back to the place I started (at a cost of $250), though numerous other people didn’t fair quite so well. :(
Now I completely understand that the airlines can’t control weather, but I feel they have a responsibility to get people where they need to go (I was told by a Northwest representative that they wouldn’t offer travel on a competitor’s planes since the delay was “weather” related**) in a relatively timely fashion. I wish the airlines could work out a seat transfer system to handle weather related issues, especially when flights are leaving with vacant seats. This would definitely make air travel more bearable, and might get more people to fly.
This flying experience did teach me a few things:
1. Don’t travel on a bankrupt airline (costs are most likely priority #1 for the airline).
2. Use the 800 number and the local ticket agent. Two heads are better than one!
3. Book direct flights, and use a car if you are within 2 – 3 hours of your destination.
4. Never take the last flight offered to a destination on the day of travel.
5. Use frequent flyer miles for upgrades, not free flights.
6. If bad weather occurs, use your cell phone to book a hotel room before they cancel the flight.
For my friends who are reading this, now you know why I hate to fly! ;)
* I was actually amused when the folks at the 800 number told me to talk to a gate agent to fix my debacle, and the gate agent told me to call the 800 number to fix things.
** This statement was somewhat invalid, because the pilot had hit a time restriction which prevented us from taking back off.