My original plans were to fly from Islip (Long Island) to Philly at 4:09 Wednesday and then from Philly to Denver that evening, but the Islip plane was delayed about 3 hours such that the 6:20 plane to Philly arrived before the 4:09 plane. The following is how I was entertained between 3:00pm on 3/10/10 and 8:00am on 3/11/10 in Islip and Philly:
- I waited for my plane at the gate in Islip until past the normal flight time at the gate hoping a gate agent would appear. None did, so I went back out through security to see the ticketing agent. I went back out because (a) there was nobody to ask at the gate and (b) there were no flight status or times posted at the gate. The ticketing agent informed me that the plane had been delayed 1 hour but that I would be fine as my Philly-to-Denver connection was also delayed.
- When the second hour delay was posted (not anywhere around the gate, of course), I checked with the gate agent (as one had arrived at the end of this initial hour delay). It was the same lady that was working ticketing when I checked an hour earlier. She then informed me I would still easily make my connection because it was now also very delayed.
- During the third hour delay, 6:20 plane came in, but this agent refused to book any of the 4:09 passengers on this flight. There was room, but I heard her tell someone on the phone she was just not going to do it. She said she had "had enough."
- Another US Airways agent arrived once the 6:20 flight started to board to see if she could get any of us on that flight. The Philly to Denver connection was now the latest flight (direct or indirect) to get us to Denver that night, and it would be very close. The new agent booked those of us with close connections on that flight while the other lady groused and told the new agent to ignore me because I had been up to see her “82 times.” (Even though there had been 3 delays, I only approached her once at the ticket counter and once at the gate, so hearing her complain about the “82 times” I had been up there was ... entertaining -- or something.) Another passenger did not board when called (he did not hear the initial boarding announcement) and the agent loudly remarked that he should be “punished” and not let on the plane because he missed the original boarding announcement. The other agent let him board.
- Eventually I got on the plane and it flew to Philly. We (I and another passenger also trying to get to Denver) were given a gate on the C concourse as our connection and told we could probably make it if we ran. Since the flight came into concourse F (which is disconnected from the "real" airport), we ran to the shuttle and took it to the stop for the C concourse. While running down the C concourse we saw a departures board that listed our Denver flight as now leaving out of A6. We could have taken the shuttle all the way to concourse A, but since we didn’t have the right gate information, we now had to run through the airport to gate A6.
- (As an aside, while charging through the airport I was sure that I was racing ahead of the nice lady also trying to get to Denver that night. I wasn't. She was on my heels the whole way. I was going to be all gallant and ask that they hold the plane for her when I got there. But damn! I could not shake her. Later I find out the bitch is a marathon runner.)
- After running all the way to A6, we arrived (drenched with sweat) to see the door being closed. When we got to the gate we were told the plane had already left ... even though it was sitting right there. Pointing this out I was told, “you will not be allowed to board.” This was a big problem for me because I needed to host an important meeting the next morning in Colorado Springs. It was clearly not a big problem for them.
- I asked what we were to do next, and we were sent to yet another part of the airport to get rebooked.
- Once we got there, there was 1 customer being served and 3 agents, but the agents were busy talking and trying to not look at the forming line of customers. After another long delay (maybe another 40 minutes), one of the other agents finally agreed to talk with us.
- She told us we would have to fly out the next morning. After another 20 minutes I was (supposedly) rebooked on what the agent said was a 6:00am flight.
- Since our initial Islip delay was caused by mechanical problems, she offered a voucher for a hotel room about a hour away from the airport at a Days Inn with no indication of how we were to get there and back. It was now very late and I was very tired and frustrated. If I could have figured out how to get to and from the Days Inn, I would have gotten less than 3 hours of sleep, so I chose to stay the night at the Marriott at the airport. I needed more than 3 hours of sleep; I was a wreck.
- After sleeping at the Marriott (which cost me $275.33 for less than 5 hours of sleep), I arose and went back in to the airport for my 6:00am flight. But it wasn’t a 6:00am flight; it was actually a 7:50am flight (maybe I could have done the Days Inn after all). THis was frustrating, but at least I had a boarding pass for the next US Airways flight to Denver. (I was told I could not utilize a different airline to get an earlier flight.)
- When boarding commenced and I tried to board with my group I was told there was a problem with my ticket. It took the gate agent a while, but eventually she told me that my ticket “had no value on it” and that I would not be able to fly on the 7:50 flight. I asked what I should do, and I was told it “wasn’t her problem” and that I needed to talk to United as my tickets were originally through them (even though it was actually a US Airways flight). Now the plane was mostly boarded and approaching its departure time. I asked for my boarding pass back (as I needed it for my company, CA, to reimburse me for the cost of the flight per corporate policy) and was told I was not getting them back.
- At this point I exploded with a cry of agony (but I did not swear or issue any threats). I know I should not have done this, but I was going crazy, so I cried out, took a breath and went back at the challenge with which I was confronted. When this happened, the 2nd gate agent told the first to “call the police” and that I would not be flying anywhere. (Now I am picturing myself on some kind of a national no-fly, no public library privileges, terrorist watch list for my troubles. Excellent!) Eventually the first agent I was working with called a manager (instead of the police). The manager was able to straighten things out after the plane had been otherwise boarded so I could actually get on the flight. In this time my originally assigned isle seat had been given to someone else, but I was just glad to get on the plane.
So, on the good side:
- I did get home on Thursday.
- I did not physically harm any of the various (hopefully endangered) US Airways employees that deserved it ('cuz that would just be bad karma).
- I was not clubbed to death by Philly's Finest for being a terrorist and library book abuser.
All-in-all a very successful trip. Can't wait for the next one.