Monday, August 13, 2007

The American Way....American Airlines, that is.

Unfortunately, the days of swearing off a particular airline are in the past. They all suck equally anymore. If I didn't have enough airline miles for a round trip with American I'd attempt to swear them off (until they offered me the cheapest tickets for my next trip, of course).

Before I take any more trips I'll need to first get my suitcase back and that's looking less and less likely by the day. Where's my suitcase, you ask? Let's start at the beginning.


I had planned a lovely extended weekend to Pittsburgh to visit a couple of friends. I intentionally booked a Thursday departure and Sunday return to try and leave as much time as possible to play in Pittsburgh. See, I'm a good planner! The travel gods were not on my side and decided I'd certainly enjoy several hours in Chicago O'Hare much more than seeing the sights of an historic city. Sorry Pittsburgh, you were deprived of my presence this time.

I made it to Chicago from Des Moines with no problems at all. After a 2 hour layover I waited patiently at gate G8 for my plane to board. I knew that there had been weather problems in Pittsburgh earlier that day, but the weather was clear there at boarding time so I was fairly certain I'd get to my destination. Not so!

After trying to get people off the plane for 45 minutes because it was overbooked by eight with an additional three people on standby, we finally got on the plane. The captain came on to let us know that another weather system was on its way to Pittsburgh and if we left now we'd run right into it so we were going to sit on the ground (in the plane) for an hour and then take off to avoid it. 1.5 recycled air hours later we were again visited by the lovely voice of the captain only this time he was telling us that due to sky congestion over Pittsburgh all flights there were cancelled. Oh yes, let the fun begin!

The soonest the rebooking agent was able to get me on a flight to Pittsburgh was at 8pm the next day, a full 28 hours later than my original flight. Given that my flight back to Des Moines was scheduled for 7am on Sunday I'd have very little time to actually do anything by the time I got into Pittsburgh and to my hotel. So, I told them to just ship my ass back to Des Moines (at 6:30am the next morning....) and reroute my bag bag home, too. Of course, they were completely out of "distress vouchers" for hotels so I used my handy iPhone to find a room online. The only thing left was a rather sketchy Days Inn but it had a 24 hour courtesy shuttle which was important given my early morning flight.

My iPhone saved the day because there were a few women that weren't able to get a room and would have had to stay in the airport. But, being the social butterfly that I am, I had bonded with them during our airline debacle and offered them space in my room. It made the price tag easier to swallow and even though they were strangers I still preferred having them in the room with me. Turns out, one was a nudist...go figure! She was cool though, I liked her!

Remember that whole rerouting of the bag thing? Yeah, that didn't happen. It's now day 4.5 and I'm still waiting on my bag. If not for the asinine rules around what you can and cannot carry on a plane I would have carried the whole damn bag with me. My need for more than 3oz of sunscreen for a weekend of walking around town was my downfall as it was the main reason I checked my bag. Now, I may never see that sunscreen (or my Sonicare, makeup, bikini, etc) ever again. How hard is it to find a bag that's purple with white squares on it (see picture on right) amongst the piles of navy, green, maroon, and black bags out there? Please, oh, please let them locate my bag! *sigh*

Keep your fingers crossed for me as I fight for my bag and a refund on my $275 trip to O'Hare and back! I'll keep you posted!


Thanks for listening....I feel better. Interestingly enough, MSNBC had a very appropriate article online today about improving travel customer service. If we continue to bend over and take it nothing will ever improve! If anything someone will find this blog and relate to my pain or it'll get logged in the annals of online airline complaints. Rest assured that I've complained via official channels as well.

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