Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Horrors of Air Travel

If this story were told to me, I don’t know if I would believe it.  But since this really happened to me and Todd this past weekend… it truly was an air travel nightmare. 

On Thursday 9/19, Todd and I embarked on our trip to Ohio.  We got to the San Diego airport with plenty of time to park in remote parking and shuttle to the newly renovated Terminal 2.

The new Terminal 2 is beautiful!  Now the shuttles drop you off upstairs to get to your flight.  Downstairs is for arrivals.  We went through security without a hitch, although they still make you take off your shoes.

Once inside security, we found our way to Phil’s BBQ for some lunch.  Yes, our favorite BBQ in San Diego now has a restaurant inside the airport!  And it wasn’t even crowded!

So awesome.

Stone Brewery, Pannikin Coffee, and quite a few other San Diego home-grown favorite foods are now in the new Terminal 2.  They’ve replaced the run of the mill chain fast food like McDonalds, La Salsa, etc. with local fares.  I love that.

We boarded our flight from San Diego to Dallas with no delays.  On the flight, I read my book “Divergent” by Veronica Roth.  I read all kinds of magazines in my iPad using Next Issue.  (I’m trying it out for free for 30 days.  Over 100 magazines with backissues even.  All you can read!)  And I listened to music using my Ludacris noise-cancelling headphones!  Man, it really works to cancel out all the plane engine noise, even crying babies!  And I took a nap.

Todd also has a pair of the headphones.

Before we knew it, we landed in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport.  This is where everything went wrong and the nightmare began.  We landed at 7pm Dallas time, and our connecting flight to Cleveland was scheduled for 8pm.  Upon landing, we found out that the flight was delayed to 9pm.  OK, no biggie.  We grabbed dinner at TGIFridays.

After eating dinner, we went back to the gate and the flight was further delayed to 9:15, then 9:30, then 9:45.  Then there was a gate change, so we had to haul ass to the new gate.  Then the flight was delayed to 10pm for a brief few minutes before the screen suddenly flashed CANCELLED.

That was the last flight to Cleveland for the night.  At this point the crowd jammed into line at the counter.  The line was super-long and barely moved.  We were given an American Airlines 800 number to call to re-arrange our flight.  Todd and I both called on our cell phones, but he got through to an agent before I did.  I also got through shortly after that, but decided to tell her that my husband already reached an agent and we’ll let that agent handle the two of us together.  Big mistake, as you will see later.  (Foreshadowing…)

Todd’s AA phone agent told him that she booked us on a 6am flight the next day from Dallas to La Guardia (New York), then connecting to Cleveland and arriving at 1:40pm.  (Seriously?  We had to fly all the way south to Dallas, then all the way northeast to New York, to get to Ohio???)  But what choice did we have, so we accepted it.  Todd told the agent to make sure I was also booked on the flight, and she confirmed we were both on the 6am flight.  After that, we stayed in the long line to get our new boarding passes printed out, and to ask the agents about booking a hotel for the night.  When we finally got up to the agent at the counter (at least an hour later), he looked up our record locator numbers and said that Todd is booked on the 6am flight, but not me.  He said now that flight is full, so he would have to book both of us on a later flight from La Guardia to Cleveland, arriving at 3:30pm instead of 1:40pm the next day.  We were livid.  How could the agent on the phone have screwed that up??! 

Our plans for Friday was to drive down with Todd’s parents from their house in Akron to Columbus.  By the time we arrived at 3:30pm to Cleveland,  we would have been driving to Columbus already.  So we asked if there were any flights to Columbus.  The gate agent said yes, there was an 8am direct flight from Dallas to Columbus, arriving at 11am.  We told them to book that flight for us.  Arriving early to Columbus would be ok.  We will find something to do at Ohio State.  Then we asked about hotels, and the American Airlines agent said that since the flight cancellation was WEATHER-RELATED, they would not be compensating us for the hotel.  They didn’t even give us any information about which hotels by the airport have shuttles, and which have good rates for those in distress.  NOTHING.  So we called a couple of nearby hotels after searching for them on our phones.  We decided on the Days Inn.  We waited in the rain outside the terminal for the hotel shuttle, but it never came.  Finally we got fed up and talked to a shuttle driver for Sleep Inn.  He told us they would give us a good rate, around $70.  So we jumped into the shuttle.  By this time we were so tired and stressed out.

The shuttle had to pick up people from all the other terminals in Dallas.  I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to leave the Dallas airport before.  It is so ginormous that you can literally drive for 10 minutes and still be inside the airport.  It took us probably 40 minutes to get to the Sleep Inn that was only TWO miles away.

We went inside the hotel and asked the front desk guy what the rate was for the night.  He said he would give us “the best rate”, then proceeded to tell us it was $99.  Bullshit!  We told him the driver told us we could stay there for $70.  So what was his comeback?  $88.  Um, if the $88 was available, then why the hell was $99 the “best rate” before?  This guy is unethical!  At that point it was late and we were stressed and tired, so we said fine.  Give us the keys and we’ll go sleep.  We get up to our room, and login to their WiFi on our phone.  As soon as we logged in, this Sleep Inn page came up and right there on the page was a $69 rate for this very location.  We wanted to scream.  They were scamming us!

We set our alarm for 5:30am so we can get back to the airport for our 8am flight to Columbus.  Upon waking up at 5:30am, I had a voicemail from American Airlines.  They had cancelled our 8am flight to Columbus, due to WEATHER.  They rebooked us on the 5:30pm flight to Columbus, arriving at 9pm.  We were livid.  SERIOUSLY??  We got up at 5:30am for nothing.  Now we were stuck in Dallas without a car.  And it rained the whole day so walking anywhere wasn’t an option.  We decided to go downstairs and eat breakfast.  They had a waffle maker that made waffles in the shape of Texas.  I wanted to punch Texas in the gut.

After breakfast we went back to our room and slept.  Then it was lunch time, so we checked out of the hotel and took the shuttle back to the DFW airport.  We had lunch at Chili’s inside the airport.  Then we sat outside Starbucks and read our books.  For like 5 hours.  At least there was Pumpkin Spice Latte.


Then guess what?  Our 5:30pm flight to Columbus got delayed to 6:28pm.  At that point, I didn’t even have the energy to get mad.  If flights were cancelled on Friday and we couldn’t make it to Columbus on Friday night, then our whole trip is ruined.  We were supposed to be at Ohio State on Saturday morning, for the Ohio State vs Florida A&M game at noon.  There was no way we could make it if we had to fly Saturday morning. 

Thankfully, we got on the 6:28pm flight to Columbus, and made it to Columbus at 10pm.  This was the sweetest sight ever.

I wanted to kiss the ground.  Todd’s dad Tim picked us up at the airport and took us to the Holiday Inn Express at Polaris, where they had booked rooms for all of us.  We arrived to Ohio a full 24 hours later than we were supposed to.  A whole day was wasted and we were out $100 (with taxes) for the stupid hotel room.  This was definitely the biggest air travel nightmare I have ever experienced.  You feel angry and helpless at the same time.  I don’t even know the proper words to  describe how frustrating it was. 

Stay tuned for my post tomorrow about the only good day this past weekend.  Saturday at Ohio State with Todd’s family.

Edited to add:  I tweeted my blog post at American Airlines.  I think they found my misery humorous.  Their flippant comments made me angrier than ever.  Besides the fact that they clearly didn’t read my post and just looked at the photos.  Their tweets speak for themselves.



  1. Blah! I'm sorry you had such a sucky experience!

  2. So sorry to hear about your terrible travel ordeal. Weather delays really suck. The airlines aren't very helpful when there is a weather delay as they just blame it on mother nature. We've been stuck a couple times. One time I missed a craft fair that I was supposed to sell at due to thunderstorms and missing connections. Sleeping at LAX was kind of spooky. It gets really quiet.

  3. Ugggh. What a nightmare. That really sucks. Hope all goes well on your way back!!

  4. We pretty much had the same issue going to London a few weeks ago but we used United which I loved (notice the ed at the end). Sked flt was leave SD 9:30 to SFO and then SFO to Heathrow... Leaving SD was delayed 2 hours - leading to missing our connector, which we were guaranteed we wouldn't miss it and they also told us the flt to London would be delayed also so we were not to worry. As we got to our gate in SFO to hop our London flt, our plane was already on the tarmac... Long story short, they rebooked us for next day which meant we'd be getting to London two days later than planned... I didn't have it and I MADE them find us another flt leaving that day. I wouldn't let up until they did and they did so we arrived in London a few hrs later than our orig flt. They too weren't planning on compensating us for hotel and I demanded they get us onto something. They knew we weren't going to make it but they said that out of everyone on our SD flt, there were only a few of us they knew was going to miss our flts and they chose the lesser of the two. Great, that's showing you United's loyalty. BTW, my husband is 100K and they still treated us like this... We are now trying to figure out what airlines we will be using from now on. I guess American is outta the questions...

    1. The problem with airline consolidations is that there are so few airlines left that fly to the destinations you want to go. So to eliminate both United and American, that would leave us with almost no viable options. US Airways? Personally I think all the airlines treat their customers like shit nowadays because they can get away with it. Not enough competition and flights to be choosy. Sad but true.

    2. I agree with you 100%!!! I'm gonna try Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic...crossing my fingers, maybe they'll be better!

  5. Ugh, I hate flying, airlines are all miserable. I definitely believe this story, I have some other insane ones I could tell! Good thing you didn't end up going through LaGuardia, not only is that way out of your way it is the worst airport ever. [I lived in NYC and it took me like 5 times before I remembered to never book flights from there, they don't even have a starbucks, just a very disgusting overpriced "mexican" restaurant and a mini-mart, being stranded there is the worst!!] I think all Texas hotels must have those same waffles because we got those when I was in San Antonio from our hotel. I have to go to DC next week for business + was so happy when I found out I could take AmTrak [though they are notoriously bad also], but no airport security/no Laguardia for me. At least you made it to the game!

  6. Ugh what an awful trip! I'm so sorry you had to go through with that. :o( I think a % of all travel gets screwed up so at the very least if you dont fly often you dont have to go through that as often. A friend of mine that I worked with through zimmer seemed to have the worst luck traveling ever. It seemed like every other week her flights got screwed up. She attributed it to flying about 100,000 miles a year though.. its bound to happen and more often the more you fly. Yuck yuck yuck! well I'm glad you were able to make the game!


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