Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Horrors of Airline Travel

I can still remember when flying somewhere was fun and exotic. Boy, those days are long gone. My latest trip to Kentucky is a classic example.

First of all, there is the situation with the carry-on bags. What with the airlines charging for checked bags, it is just kind of disgusting to watch. Dave says that when the airlines treat people like cattle, they in turn act like cattle. Everybody rushes on the plane and tries to jam their overstuffed bags into the bins or under the seats. I watched this go on as I left Denver to fly to Chicago and then on to my destination of Evansville, where my parents would pick me up and bring me on to Owensboro.

I made it to Chicago with time to spare and felt pretty good as I got off the plane and started toward my connecting gate. Things fell out of place when I paused to look at one of the directories of departing flights. My flight to Evansville was listed as CANCELLED. I couldn't believe it.

I made my way to the gate that I would have departed from and stood in line to talk to the agent there. He said the flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems. Further, there were two more flights later in the day to Evansville; both were already overbooked. The best he could do for me, short of sending me to a different airport, was to book me on a flight the next day. He offered me vouchers to stay in a hotel and for food. I was incredulous.

I had him go ahead and book me for that flight while I tried to figure out my next move. The good news was that I had more options than a lot of people. My sister, Leslie, lives in Chicago. I called her and we talked about my situation. Of course, I could stay at her house if I was stuck in Chicago for a night.

I flagged down my parents (figuratively) to keep them from going to the Evansville airport and then spoke with my Kentucky sister, Karen, about my status. I called David and asked his advice, and also how far he thought the Louisville, Kentucky airport was from my sister's house in Calhoun. I called Karen back and asked if she wanted to come and get me in Louisville if I flew on the next flight. "Of course!" she said.

So, I rebooked my flight to Louisville, and let Karen know when I would be in late afternoon. I worked with the American Airlines agent to try to get my bag rerouted to Louisville. The agent worked hard at it, but I could tell that she was pretty doubtful that my bag would go to Louisville. I suspected it was going to end up in Evansville.

Then, when all that was taken care of, Leslie came and picked me up and we went and had lunch with Kevin. What a treat! We went to a little sandwich shop close to Kevin's work that he likes. It was really fun.

After Leslie dropped me back off at O'Hare, I went straight to my flight, and didn't really have any time to waste. I landed in Louisville much sooner than I expected because I had forgotten about the time change. I found Karen right away and she and her husband, Steve, and I waited for my bag that didn't ever come. When I went into the baggage office, they called and found it was in Evansville (what a surprise!) and arranged to have it delivered to Karen's house.

Karen and Steve and I went and had dinner and started to make our way to Calhoun. When I called about my bag and there was no movement to get it delivered, we decided to detour to Evansville to get it. When I went in, the agent handed it to me and didn't ask me to sign for it or check my I.D. Finally I made it home to Calhoun. What a relief.

The next day, and for three more days afterwards, I got automated messages from American Airlines saying that they were very sorry but they had not yet located my bag--which of course, I had possession of. Thank goodness.

The picture above is of my sister Leslie, and her husband, Kevin, in the sandwich shop in Chicago.

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