“Delay, delay...but they got me home.”
Flight from Chicago to Jacksonville
- One Way
- Number of Stops:
- 1 stop in Charlotte, North Carolina
- Date of Flight:
- August 2010
- Seat Class:
When I awoke in my hotel room in downtown Chicago last Wednesday to the sound of thunder, I expected to experience some difficulty getting out of O'Hare that afternoon. O'Hare is a bloody awful airport and rarely have my flights departed on time. As a Chairman's Preferred member of US Airways, I am usually willing to accept a connecting flight and since there aren't many non-stop flights from my home base, I don't have much of a choice. Flying US Airways paid off for me this time.
Thunderstorms in Chicago always cause problems for O'Hare, but today's weather was compounded by Obama's birthday. His arrival at O'Hare at 5pm (just 80 minutes before my scheduled departure) caused a complete shut down of air traffic in the area. As is typical, none of the gate boards showed that my flight was to be delayed. I was connecting into Charlotte with an hour between flights before taking the last flight of the day from CLT to JAX. As my departure time drew near, and no aircraft appeared at the gate, it became apparent that I would not be departing on time.
Fortunately, the US Airways Club membership now garners access to the United Red Carpet Lounges, so I spent my time waiting in the lounge rather than fighting for a seat in the woefully inadequate departure areas of the terminal.
As time passed, I became increasingly aware that I would not make my connecting flight, so I called US Airways. I was immediately told that they had booked me on a non-stop flight on United that was scheduled for a 7:59PM departure but was already delayed until 9-ish.
I gave up my first class seat on US Airways for a coach seat on a United CRJ-700, one of the most uncomfortable jets available. (The Canadaire Regional Jet series as well as the Embraer Regional Jet series have narrow, hard seats with small overheads and are particularly uncomfortable).
I obtained my boarding pass for United but it showed me as being in the 4th boarding group. As a Chairman's Preferred flyer, I should have been in the 1st boarding group. I addressed this with the gate agent who issued the pass as well as the agent in the Red Carpet Lounge, but neither could cause the pass to print properly. I eventually addressed this with the boarding agent who allowed me to board first.
The flight finally departed at 11:30 and we arrived in JAX around 1:40 AM. While this was much later than expected, it was better than being stuck in my connecting city. A coworker also had the same flight itinerary, but he made the mistake of checking his baggage. Doing so made it impossible for him to change from his scheduled flights after check-in and as expected, he missed the connection in Charlotte and had to shell out $200 for a hotel.
The lessons from this trip - 1. US Airways takes care of their preferred travelers when possible. 2. The US Airways Club's reciprocity with United and Continental can provide a welcome respite when delayed. 3. Don't check baggage unless you are certain of your flight.