Wednesday, April 27, 2011

California--Flight Saga

My trip was great, framed by unfortunate and frustrating travel interruptions. On the way out, I had to change planes in Dallas and as I had a 90+ minute layover, I'd planned lunch. As a former Texas resident, I knew DFW had decent food, including local eateries. It would take some time to find but even in such a huge airport, I knew I had time to seek out food, eat it, and board my flight. I was actually looking forward to my layover. Such is my work schedule that I rarely have time for a proper lunch (like most people today), so it would be dead time I'd use wisely.

Given my plans for lunch, I nearly skipped getting something to eat at La Guardia. I'd packed organic grapes and crackers, eaten a banana for breakfast, so it seemed like overkill. But then part of me thought better and I bought two (mediocre) eggs on a (terrible, white) roll. It was just as well. Our sold out flight was evidently turned away from DFW due to tornados north of the airport and because La Guardia limits the amount of fuel a plane can carry, we had to divert to Oklahoma City and refuel as we didn't have sufficient fuel to circle at Dallas. So my layover (and carefully planned lunch) time was spent in the middle of the tarmac (we didn't pull into a gate or deplane). We arrived at DFW just in time for me to miss my flight which took off on time as it seemed like our plane was one of the few that day to be delayed. As appears to be typical of the airline industry today, American had fully booked all other planes to LA and Santa Barbara and I had, of course, missed all my connections. I spoke to a rep on the phone for 40 minutes but she wasn't given consent to sign my ticket over to United (to get in about 7 hours after I'd planned). But I did manage to persuade a gate attendant to let me on the next LA flight as soon as a seat emerged. It wouldn't get me to Santa Barbara but I'd deal with that when I arrived.

It turned out all flights for Santa Barbara that day were overbooked so I got the bus instead. I arrived three hours late and none too happy.

On the way back, everything was going well. Santa Barbara flight left on time and I arrived so early at LAX that I tried to get on one of the two NYC flights that left before mine. Alas, everything was overbooked so I ended up on my flight. It left on time. Then it returned to the gate after an hour or so in the air after a technical malfunction 35 minutes into our trip. We had to deplane, wait, reboard, by which time our 12.40 am arrival time (as late as I wanted to get in, indeed a little later than I'd hoped) was history. Sometime after 3 am we landed. I was in bed by 3.45 after finding a kindly cab driver (and spending money I'd hoped to save by using public transit). With teaching the next day, this was not the end to the weekend I'd planned. American did gift passengers with 3,000 miles for the flight interruption on the way back but my anger at the way the first set of flight snafus was handled remains. I learned a lesson though. As my dear friend Chris told me, never fly through Dallas in the spring because of the unpredictable weather.

Pictures and posts from Santa Barbara, the wedding, and the surrounding events will follow.

1 comment:

jennifer said...

oh my goodness, what a nightmare! i'll have to remember to avoid dallas in the spring, the same way i avoid chicago and other northern cities during the winter.