Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Delayed into oblivion 2

My last, incredible, blog post about being stuck at the Houston airport was written in the middle of the day. What I didn't expect was that the worst of it was still in the future, and I am, right now, still in Houston. I have been delayed in Houston for about 10 days now, waiting on a flight back to LaGuardia.

Parts of that story are false.

Although I did eventually make it back home, it wasn't for another 12 hours. That flight I had had from Houston to LaGuardia was delayed two more times until around 6pm.




At 6pm, I was sitting in the red carpet club, purposefully one or two feet away from the United agents when I got the text that my flight was cancelled. I jumped up with excellent form and gusto and somehow ended up only being second in line for the gate agent (should have been first grrrrr). I was already booked on a flight to LaGuardia the next morning at 7am, but that type of stuff is for the weak and stupid. I asked the gate agent if I could instead get onto the LaGuardia flight that was leaving at 7pm. I was bummed that I was giving up my first class seat, but at this point, I just wanted to get back to my giant mansion that I live in with all my money.

So I exit the lounge and head towards the opposite end of the terminal to wait for this flight. One of those little carts was driving by so, for the first time in my life, I jumped on and asked the guy if get could take me to concourse E. Have you ever ridden on one of those carts? They're surprisingly satisfying. And I always wondered how they pick the people that get to ride on them. Sometimes they are elderly, other times they're not. But never in my life have I ever been presented with a cart ride. So there's that.

I got to the E gate and was playing around with the United app on my telephone when I noticed something really neat. You can actually look at the upgrade list! First you open the app, then you press on some buttons and enter in some information, then you do this thing where you press additional buttons and.... you can figure it out on your own.

Anyway, I noticed that I was the top of the list for upgrades, and sure enough I got my first class seat back. But, was it all for naught? Scientists say "yes... and also, please let me get back to my important research and stop asking incredibly inane and stupid..." that specific scientist abruptly stopped talking at that point when I punched him in the neck.

So I was sitting on this gate, irritated that I was going to get home so late, but glad that I was getting home at all. "Oh is that gladness in your heart dear sir? Please allow us to clear that right up with some ULTRADESPAIR™"! This is what I picture United saying to its passengers at Houston that day.

The flight was about to board when the gate agent announced that they didn't have a pilot or co-pilot for this flight and that United was sending some at 9pm. So the flight was delayed to 9pm. Despondent and irritated, I went to a different United Club and got drunk.

Finally 9pm rolled around just in time for me to get a text from United stating that the flight was cancelled.



I get to the gate agent at the carpet club and ask them if there is anymore flights to LaGuardia that evening. I knew the answer would be no. So my follow up request was to be flown to Newark. As much as the airport sucks at life for being so inconvenient to get to and from for New Yorkers, it was better in my mind than getting in the next morning to LaGuardia. So the agent booked me on the last flight out of Houston to Newark.

Again, I was loathed to give up my first class seat, but sometimes a guy just has to get home to his mansion and moneys.

Waiting at the gate for the Newark flight, I nearly started laughing hysterically when that flight was delayed as well due to "computer problems". Are they running Windows ME? Just board and fly the plane for Rom's sake! I was number 1 on the upgrade list again, but there were no empty seats in first class. When they eventually started boarding, I was naturally the first in line. I walked on the plane and the flight attendant looked at me, then turned to the pilot in the cockpit and said "We have our first passenger!". I'm not sure what that meant but it didn't matter. I walked humbly to my coach seat in the economy plus cabin; my place of birth as it were.

I put my bags in overhead bins and what not, took out my book and waiting for the rest of the riff raff to board the plane. After about 20 minutes the plane was full and bustling.

But then a flight attendant came down the aisle, right to my row, turned to me and asked me if I'd like to sit in first class. I said "..........................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................ok".

The man next to me said "its your lucky day". That was incorrect.

I grabbed my bag from the overheard bin in coach and marched up to first. The bins were all closed, and I began to panic. I can't have my bags so far back in the plane, when the plane lands and deboards, I'd have to sit there and wait for everyone to get off before I could deplane. That would not do. So I started trying to jam my suitcase into the overheard bin in first class when a flight attendant approached me with an attitude saying "sir, sir, excuse me sir, that won't fit". Instead of fighting with him, which I almost did, I just sighed and leaned my head against the bin for a minute, just to take in the ridiculousness of it all. The flight attendant must have seen or understood my despair because he then found another bin in first class, asking another passenger if he could move their bag, just so he could fit mine in. I was very grateful.

I did eventually make it home to Newark... by 1:30am. Got into my bed by 3am. And wrote a nasty letter to United by 10am.

A nice epilogue to this story is that United eventually wrote me back and deposited 10,000 miles into my account. Thats not a terribly large amount but its not terribly small either.

My advice to you if you find yourself in a similar situation is the following:

1) Have a club pass to the elite lounge, the agents in there are much more helpful and you don't have to wait in any line to get their help.
2) Don't fly ever, at all, on any airline, for any reason... especially if the flight involves LaGuardia.


Enjoy.


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