It’s not fun to fly anymore

copyright: hpayne, Detroit Press

Sorry I haven’t been posting lately. We flew out* last Sunday morning to go birding in Brownsville, Texas. More on that in a later post. Tonight from my hotel room in Brownsville (I should be home in Wisconsin) I want to reference back to that asterisk.

The night before at 10pm I checked for the third time the flight status of  United from Green Bay to Chicago to make sure it was still a go. Yes, 6am, confirmed. So we dutifully got up at 4am, dressed, loaded up the luggage and drove to the airport. Now our airport is not large so you have to arrive two hours before but we always get there at least an hour if not an hour and a half before flights because Curt always has a bad feeling about flying. No, he’s not afraid of flying, he’s afraid we aren’t going to get to fly. Well, unfortunately he was right again.

We get in line only to find out from the people in front of us that this “god awful time in the morning flight” has been canceled because there is a snowstorm not quite to Chicago yet but because our flight is not full, we are canceled so not to cause more problems in Chicago later when we try to fly out during the storm. Or something like that, I was still asleep.

OK, the helpful desk person taps the keys with her magic fingers and gets us on a 9am flight to Cleveland instead. Four LONG hours later we are in the sky (snore).  We get into Cleveland fine, then get on the flight to Houston with no delays, yippee. Now the last leg of this trip is the crap shoot. We have a 3:15pm flight out of Houston to Brownsville but because of the previous chessboard moves there will be very little time to get to that gate once we land. We have been issued an additional ticket on the 9:30pm flight in case we miss the 3:15 but we are told if we miss it we should get on standby for the 6pm flight. Follow that?  Well don’t worry, with the help of a Houstonite who sat next to us , we got to the airport tram in record time and to our gate with 10 minutes to spare.

Hello. It’s Friday. Our flight out to head back to Green Bay (via Houston and Cleveland) is at 1:04pm. Airport is tiny, close to the hotel but Curt insists we take the 11:15 shuttle. We are happy, we are optimistic, we have tickets in hand, the weather is good.  We don’t have any seats!!!!!  You know something is wrong when the agent is tapping away, looking for your name and says “um, did you have a flight change when you came down?”  Yes, matter of fact we did. Well, when they changed our route through Cleveland instead of Chi-town they canceled the rest of our trip. Can you believe it? I guess if you miss the flight to Chicago you can’t come home from Texas.

So they put us on standby but asked us if we would be willing to stay the night, hotel and dinner on the airline’s tab (plus breakfast and lunch tomorrow), $300 dollar voucher each for a future flight and redoing our tickets for tomorrow, getting us home around 5:45pm? Sure, what the hell!

Since I am writing this from the Brownsville Holiday Inn, I think you know how that scenario is going.

But it could have been worse. There was another young woman waiting for standby as well. She, for whatever reason, missed the 8:45am flight to Dulles. She had a 4 year old and a one month old baby. She did not get the standby seats either. We found out she was trying to get home to Saudi Arabia, so she had to make connections in Washington to a British Airways flight. As the ticket agent was telling her the next flight out of Brownsville to Dulles was on Sunday, the baby started to cry loudly and her phone started ringing. The last we saw of her she was taking a taxi to McAllen, Texas (forty miles away) to get  a 4:45pm  flight.  As I watched the driver load her three suitcases, diaper bag and car seat into the car, I was grateful I only had one more night in Brownsville. I’ll keep you posted.

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