Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I genuinely believe I have given up flying forever...

I will take "alternate" transportation from now on...

This Romanticon was the first time I have ever flown Frontier Airlines...and the first time in over 20 airplane trips that I have had nearly more trouble than the plane trip was worth. My trip had been planned since July. Reservations made. Hotel all set up. Electronic tickets...the works. In all the times I have flown before, the planes have been on time...the connecting flights have been on time...and the whole ball of wax.

I should have realized that things would go haywire when we were informed that the plane that I expected to fly out to Denver on was nearly an hour late. Because they had to switch planes in Seattle. Because of mechanical problems.  But it would be just fine, they said, "because the connecting flight I was to catch in Denver would be an hour and a half late." Because they had to switch out planes. Because of mechanical problems.

That made me feel safe and secure as all git out. 

Well, That put me two and a half hours behind schedule to catch the last hotel shuttle from the airport to the McKinley Grand Hotel, which was a free service. The result? I had to find a cab at 1:45 a.m. and pay $70.00 to get myself to the hotel. Instead of getting a good eight hours of sleep before having to get up and start motivating, I got exactly three.

Dragging my fanny out of bed and crawling downstairs to breakfast was a real joy. Ahhhh...the free breakfast buffet. I was hungry enough to eat a cardboard horse that morning, so it tasted fantastic.  Of course, nobody told me that I could order anything off the hotel breakfast menu that I wanted (for free) so I settled for the reconstituted scrambled eggs and hashbrowns, some cut up cantaloupe and tons of crisp bacon or sausage every morning. When I could have had eggs benedict...or waffles...or....sigh.

LOL! I guess I should have asked, right? No big deal, because it was free food and I was on a budget (especially after that $70 taxi ride). Besides...I'm used to my own cooking, and can't say that I'm a gourmet chef.

The hotel was great...the convention was fabulous. A wonderful time was had by all. I hated to leave. Then I took the free hotel shuttle back to the airport...only to find that my plane was late.  Because they had to switch out the planes. Because of mechanical problems.

Sigh.

Because my connecting flight in Denver would be taking off about an hour BEFORE my delayed flight would land, they scrambled to find me another flight from Denver to Utah. They got me on a United Airlines flight that was to leave Denver at 10:05 p.m....making it necessary to call my son to pick me up four hours later than I had asked at first. So I looked at the scrolling flight boards in Denver to find my flight out, and it said that flight 6314 would leave from gate 33A at exactly 10:05 p.m.

YAY!  I had time to get a bite to eat and I found a McDonald's about one football field away from gate 33A and had a leisurely meal. After gobbling my meal and dragging my 70 pounds of carry-on luggage back to gate 33A, figuring that I would relax until the flight boarded at 9:39 p.m., I opened a book and read for a couple of hours.  After a while I began to notice that there was no one joining me for the next flight from gate 33A, and the scrolling sign over the podium said "Montreal 11:15 p.m."

Ummmm...

So I got up and walked over (dragging my friggin' two-ton luggage filled with books and junk from the convention) and found a gate attendant and asked if I was in the right place for flight 6314 to SLC. She hit a few dozen keys and replied laconically, "You are at the wrong gate. Flight 6314 has been changed...uh-huh...because we had to switch out the plane." Because of mechanical problems. Uh-huh. So where was I suppose to be to catch flight 6314 now? Ummm...where the hell is gate 90B? Ummm...whatdya mean, it's about five miles that-a-way?

 Thank God there were four people movers that covered 40 of the gates in between...but that left this tired, frustrated, old lady humping her five-ton luggage through two full concourses, over the river and through the woods, down to another level, then back up and back down again. I finally sank into a chair at gate 85A because I was about to fall on my face. (The altitude change from 1100 feet to 5600 feet didn't help my blood pressure).

After huffing and puffing until my heart rate lowered to a safe 120 bpm, and getting my second wind, I crawled out of that lovely chair and managed to drag the ten-ton luggage to gate 90A, where I collapsed and waited anxiously for them to announce that my gate had been changed back to 33B!

Then came the ominous announcement that they were asking for "volunteers" to take a flight the following morning because the smaller plane was seriously oversold...no friggin' way! I am here...you WILL take me home TONIGHT!!!

I was fully ready to fight my way into the damn plane if need be, and didn't mind one damn bit having to check my carry on bag at the gate because the overhead area was "too small" for roll alongs. I was finally on the plane...the oversold one...when a commotion broke out at the front. There was a slightly over-Xantaxed passenger who was talking too loudly about the last time she flew and how she had started screaming "OH GOD WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE!"

The flight attendants asked her take a later flight that wasn't so crowded, and her two adult kids (who shared my three-seat row) decided they would not fly out without Mom.  So I was able to stretch out over three seats and watch a free in-flight movie because...uh huh...the flight was so late.

So next year I believe I will drive...or take a train...or maybe catch a ride on Shadowfax. Any of those options seems to be better than flying the friendly skies.  

Tell me...have you ever had this type of travel nightmares?  Please share.

Hugs!

Fran

20 comments:

  1. Holy crap, Fran. What a friggin' nightmare. I'd never fly with them again. I've only flown Southwest and haven't had issues to date. Though I HATE to fly regardless of the company. I drove 10 hrs last time I went to RomantiCon all to avoid flying.

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    1. Truly was a nightmare. I have always used other airlines before this. But when Frontier had FOUR problems, I decided not to even try them in future. I only selected them this trip because the other airlines here take about 2,000 miles out of my way...dragging me down to Houston or Atlanta for connections to Ohio. A short stop in Denver wasn't so bad, and it took four hours less flight time...but now I think driving will be best.

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  2. I'm with you on the alternative Shadowfax solution, lol! I haven't flown in years because the aggravation just isn't worth it. Next year RT is in Kansas City, so that's only a two hour drive and I plan on being there, how about you saddle up the critter and come say hi:)

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    1. Love to, sweet stuff, but Kansas City is over 2,000 miles from me, too...

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  3. I feel for you, Fran. It's no fun getting to the back of beyond dragging so much luggage. Hope you make it next year without a problem!

    I had one such incident, waaaay back when DH and I took a belated honeymoon to northern Italy. We got to the international Milan airport to discover that no planes had been flying OUT of JFK for the past 24 hours because of extreme flooding in NYC (no pilots or crew could get there), so there were no big planes to fly BACK to JFK. That meant no planes flying out of London, Madrid, Munich, Lisbon, or any of the international airports in Europe, because none of the planes took off from JFK. DH finally snagged us a flight from London Heathrow 3 days later, which meant we had to take a train to Bonn and a connecting puddle-jumper from there to London.

    The good part? The flight was half empty and I could stretch out over all 3 seats and snooze all the way home. BUT, the telegram we sent to arrange pickup didn't get to its intended target and we had to take a cab from JFK to Smithtown at the equivalent (in 1985 dollars) of your $70 fare.

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    1. Yours topped mine. Thanks for sharing, love. Traveling anywhere by plane nowadays is scary. I can't afford $1,000 for a first class ticket, and sitting crammed in with two or three others in 24 inch wide seats is the pits. I always ask for a window seat so I can lean against the wall and avoid knocking elbows with my neighbors.

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  4. I've quite flying, and I won't go into the horrendous details of some of my overseas flight. But my son comes to visit from New York on Jet Blue and swears it is like flying used to be. They actually treat him like a person.

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    1. Jet Blue seems to be far better, but their flights don't go where I need to get From here. I tried booking a flight to Ohio but it connected in Miami? There are just so few flights out of here that are non-stop or reasonable connections. Sigh.

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  5. One of my "favorite" bad flying experiences is when we flew from Detroit to Tampa for my son's wedding. We were delayed on the freeway so we had to dash through the airport - of course we were at the farthest gate possible. The staff at the desk gave us attitude over our lateness. It was in July and over 100 degrees. They finished boarding the plane around 3:30, we were supposed to leave at 4pm. Inside the plane was like an oven. We sat and sat and sat. Smoke started coming from numerous air vents follwed by a very suspicious odor. People got nervous. We sat for a while longer. Men with tool belts came on the plane. They banged and clanged and conferred with each other. Then the flight attendants went around and said everything was just fine. We sat for a while longer. Passengers, myself included, became extremely grumpy. We hadn't been allowed anything to drink, or allowed to use the bathroom, or allowed to leave the now extremely stinky sweatbox! Three and a half hours had passed!! In what I'm sure they thought was an announcement that would help diffuse the situation, they announced over the speaker that we'd be leaving as soon as they found a pilot!!!!!! We sat for almost an hour longer.

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    1. OMG! Okay...your was worse than mine! LOL!

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  6. I'm glad RomantiCon is in driving range for me. My biggest flying adventure was back in college when stupid me decided to fly standby during spring break. I barely made the last flight out of my home state only to end up in Atlanta where I had to spend the night in the airport. My family, expecting me in Florida, showed up to find my luggage arrived but not me. I finally made it the next morning and spent the first day of my vacation sleeping.

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    1. Ouch! Maybe they thought aliens had abducted you mid-flight! How awful!

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  7. Geez...I'm glad you enjoyed the conference! The flight sagas sound like a nightmare...all of them!

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    1. The convention was marvelous! The sucked truly sucked! LOL!

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  8. I will never fly Northwest Airlines again, after what they put me through in 2004. Our flight from Indpls to Detroit was fine, but after first losing my 12 y/o in the airport (he took the escalator instead of sticking with Mom and the stroller in the elevator) and frantically searching for a kid who didn't think to TELL me he had popped into the bathroom, our flight was delayed five hours. Not a problem; I had plenty of formula for the 10 month old, and bought some games for the tweens, plus a book for myself and settled down to wait. About two hours go by, and I heard over the loudspeaker that our connecting flight was now at gate so-and-so. I hustled everyone to the new gate and we stood in line to board. We finally get to our seats, and the oldest kid and I frantically gulp our Sudafed, to help with our ears, which don't like take offs or landings. Fifteen minutes, we're told to get off the plane; an hour later, we get back on the same plane. Which is good, right? The decongestant has had time to work, and I won't be in pain.

    We land in Ottawa several hours behind schedule. My baby has exploded his diaper; our luggage is missing; and I'm praying my father is behind the opaque glass as I fill out the forms, try to console two tired kids, not to mention realizing I'm now down to two diapers and one change of clothing for the baby. And there are NO bathrooms until we pass through Customs.

    We finally get through Customs, and there is my dad, who was praying we would eventually appear:) I head for the bathroom and clean up my child, giving up about cleaning his onezie and just threw the sopping mess away.

    I checked back every day, and no sign of our missing luggage. Thankfully, the reason for our trip was a family Christmas get-together, so clothing was received and very much appreciated!

    Five days later, the kids and I tried to return home. Flight was cancelled, because the pilot failed to show up for work. Airline put us up in the same hotel for another night. As I'm waiting for my sister to come back to the airport to get us, one of the skycaps recognized me and asked if we'd ever gotten our luggage. I said no; he told me to wait. My sister arrives; the skycap returns WITH OUR MISSING SUITCASES!! I'm so thrilled I hugged and kissed him! I could finally hand out my Christmas presents to everyone:)

    The next day, our flight is cancelled AGAIN. My family has all left the hotel; I demand they find me a flight home. First they offer me a route through NY, but I'd have to change airports. I told him no way. So he finds us a flight on Delta, sending us to Atlanta for 6 hours. I took it.

    We arrived in Atlanta, and settle in at our gate on concourse G. I sent the tweens off for food, and when they returned, I went. And happened to look at the flight board....our flight has been moved to concourse E. I turned around and moved us, then found myself some food. Another hour goes by; I decide to check the board again. Yup; we've been moved to concourse C. We move again, and as it gets closer to departure time, I realize we're the only ones at that gate. So I check again, and we're at the wrong gate. Same concourse; just need to move down 100 yards. And finally arrived back in Indpls, WITH our luggage! And fired off a very unhappy note to NW Airlines. We were supposed to be reimbursed for our five non-luggage days, but never received it.

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    1. It's enough to make people go back to rental cars and long drives...especially with kids! Or maybe we could all pitch in and rent a whole plane with a good pilot and have a party!

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  9. Goodness! All those delays because of a mechanical issue. That does make one feel sooooo safe. I don't fly much, but when we had the ceramic shop I flew to Orlando every February for one of the biggest ceramic shows around. My parents would drive down the Friday before and visit with friends who lived on the coast. Then they would head to Orlando. I would arrive on Wednesday, the show started on Thursday. The Orlando airport is so beautiful. I remember the first time I got there, ooohhh and aaahhhing over all the pretty plants and layout of the airport. Most of the time the flights were just delayed because they were just late. One was delayed in DC because of ice on the wings. With my parents waiting at the airport to pick me up, I had no way of contacting them. This was before cell phones
    were popular. I was told I would have to take a flight in the morning. I had no way of getting myself to the airport the next day. Husband would be at work, parents were already in Florida, and a cab ride would cost me a house payment or my second born child. The airlines did give me a pass for the cab ride. The flight did get to Orlando eventually but without making the stop in Columbus to pick up those who were going to Orlando. When the flight landed and I didn't get off the plane, my parents were very worried and didn't know what had happened. All the airlines would tell them was I hadn't got on the plane in Columbus. I finally was able to reach them by a message I left at the hotel. I called them the next morning from a payphone in the airport to let them I was going to be able to get on the flight and be there in a couple hours. I got to ride in first class. Oooohhh boy, oooohhhh joy. The guy beside me was used to flying first class, I could tell by his actions. First class was ok, but it's not worth paying extra for.
    My experience was no way as horrific as yours, Frannie, but at the time it seemed liked the end of the world being delayed like that.

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    1. I think it equaled mine, love! LOL! I don't think I want to fly again...ever.

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