Airlines

3 Cancelled/Delayed Flights, Same Arrival Time

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I found a cheap last minute flight and decided to meet up with Jeanne this weekend in Chicago. My flight left early AM on Saturday, and I decided right before going to bed on Friday night to see if the upgrade on my return flight had cleared yet.

I log in to discover that my outbound flight had been changed from 7:53AM to 5:25PM. That wasn’t going to work, so I called the 1K line immediately. They inform me that the original flight had been cancelled and all earlier flights were sold out, but they could try to put me on a 6AM flight connecting in Houston and getting in 2 1/2 hrs later. Fine.

Lesson learned: Check itinerary before bed/before leaving for the airport in case of changes post-check in.

However, when checking my itinerary after I get off the phone, I discover the woman accidentally deleted my return flight. Panic. At midnight I’m on the phone again getting it straightened out. Phew. Was so glad that I had thought to check my reservation. Especially since I would have showed up at the airport at 6:30AM to discover my flight wasn’t until evening, and at that point all earlier options would have been completely gone.

Lesson learned: Check your reservation online after they make changes to make sure they haven’t deleted flights.

So I show up at the airport at 4:30AM for my 6AM flight to Houston which has a 30 min connection time to my ORD flight. The check in counters already had lines snaking around the terminal and I learn that dozens of flights across the east coast had been cancelled the night before due to weather.

Make it through really bad security lines (my new laptop case made it much easier though!) and and get to the gate in time to hear them announce the flight to Houston is delayed by 2 hours.

That means I won’t make my connection, or even the next flight to ORD after that which landed at 1:05PM. I see my vacation time slipping away from me.

Get in line for the gate agent, get on the phone to the 1K desk, pull out my laptop and bring up matrix.itasoftware.com to start viewing my options, and wait. 30 minutes later I get an agent on the phone who thinks I should try to make a 2 minute connection in Houston, “you might make up time in-air,” and if not, wait 4 hours in the Houston airport for the 2PM flight that gets me in at 5PM. Ugh.

I decide the original non-stop they scheduled me on that arrives at 6:30PM is better than spending the day in-transit hoping flights in/out Houston work out. What I really wanted was for them to try to get me on the direct American Airlines flights leaving at 8 & 10AM, but I was informed only a representative at the airport could do that.

Lesson Remembered: Get in line, get on the phone, and do lots of research yourself.

An hour has passed and the gate agent has only processed 2 of the 13 people in front of me. I know the reservations agents at checkin upstairs are going to be even more swamped. I decide to head for the lounge and see what they can do. Except, since my BMI gold status has expired and I failed to get a status match with Aegean, I don’t have lounge access any more.

So I fire up my laptop again and quickly purchase the 19.99 membership to SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club so I can be reimbursed for the $50 day pass I’ll need to buy to gain access. Sweet.

Except then I realize I’m in Terminal B, the United lounge is in Terminal BC and as far as I know, there’s no bus between the two so I’ll need to go through long security lines again. At this point I decide to give up and accept my evening departure fate.

Lesson Learned: Make sure you’re going to use it before you purchase SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club.

On the way out, I decide to check in for my 5:25PM flight at one of the kiosks so I can just go straight to security when I get back. At this point the in-person check in lines are out the door. The line for the kiosk is about 3 people. I pull up my record and it says other flight options might be available. HA!

On a lark, I want to see what they suggest, and select “See options”.

“Do you want to be on the 6AM flight that has been delayed to 7:44AM?” (It’s 6:30AM at this point)

YES!! YES!!!!

It even gives me an aisle seat near the front (which turns out not to be economy plus, but who cares). I head to security and this time get a line that isn’t using Nude-o-scopes. One less pat down. Yay!

Lesson Learned: Check in for flights before you leave the airport!

Our flight was further delayed but still landed at 8:45, a few minutes earlier than the original flight I’d booked. I couldn’t believe it. Of course I was dopey from only 2 hours of sleep, having stayed up til 1AM trying to get my flight fixed and then getting up at 3:30 to get to the airport in time. But still. Incredible, incredible luck!

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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

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