Thursday, June 30, 2011

Airports are noisy

And I should know. It's 3:30 am and I'm lying flat on my back listening to the racket. Yet I can't hear any voices. No announcements. Strange-- there was a "report any suspicious baggage" announcement about 10 minutes ago, but otherwise I haven't heard any loud speaker announcements nor music in hours.
Yet the sounds are crazy loud. It's all the people mover things clanging and grinding with the occasional cleaning machine that provides quite the din.
I had an amazing long trip yesterday that turned into 2 days.
This time my third flight was whacked. Chicago: not my home town. A bummer with thousands of people. Huge lines. Stupid check-in kiosks placed in front of counters so you have to get in long lines to use them. (United is going to get quite a response to their survey.)
The sequence:

  • Sitting on a plane with the doors "secured" yet we remain at the gate. 
  • Precious minutes tick by and at last we are I informed of an electrical problem. 
  • I can almost anticipate what's next: waiting for someone to come check it out. 
  • Waiting. Waiting. Yep, there's a problem. 
  • Is there a quick solution or do they have to go looking for a part? 
  • Times for possible departures are given for several scenarios. 
  • And at last, take everything with you; we are switching to another aircraft.

Arrived late in Denver causing 75% of the flyers to miss a connecting flight. Me included. Only there are no more flights until the next morning. Some people were told the July Fourth weekend had started and they might be stranded-errr, for awhile.
So I go to customer service to politely request a hotel voucher to be told that they didn't have any more rooms to give out. Ok I'll get reimbursed instead, however, there are no rooms available this side of the Continental Divide. Masses of people were picking up and putting down phones at the hotel call center. No one was getting anywhere. Then I called my hub and told him I'd be spending some time on the floor tonight and minutes later my phone rang with a agent booking me in to a hotel a mere 12 miles away. I was off. All I needed was transportation and a very nice Iranian man gave me a price and said, "We go now." I climbed into his 12 seater van and off we went. (Boy, did that thing need shocks!)  At 65 mph he was tapping various addresses into his gps. And when we arrived at said hotel, guess what? He says, "I wait to make sure this is the one.". I'm glad he did because there was no reservation for me and no room.* We spent the next hour at other prospective lodgings with the same result. I admitted defeat and told him to take me back to the airport. "Why? What would you do there?"  Spend the night? He hesitated, then asked if I would like to stay at his home. What a dear man. Really there was no proposition, just that he was appalled that there were no rooms. And he did his best to get one for me. I declined and we chatted on the way back. He had a great story, works hard and has a young family. I felt sorry for him having to take me back to the airport at midnight when I knew his shift was over hours ago and the airport is definitely in the opposite direction from home. I probably would have been treated nicely, returned to the airport the next day with a boat load of experiences and money in his pocket.
But instead I'm lying here flat on my back.
My corner at the airport.

 I expect that by 5 am the airport will be bustling, but for now I'm pretending to be a homeless person, huddling among my meager possessions with my jacket over my head--and my iPod plugged into the nearest outlet.
Sent from my iPod
The train at 5:30 AM immediately refunded my money.  While I was on the phone they called the motel and verified that they didn't have a reservation and didn't get paid.
No compensation yet from United;  I can claim up to $100 in accommodation costs... but I'm going to try to get reimbursed for the limo/van.

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