Thursday, November 30, 2006

Murphy And His Law Can Kiss My Ass

Hi everyone. I am back. I know that you missed me. I have a lot to tell you and I will do that over the next couple of weeks.
Today I want to tell you about my trip back.
My parents live approximately 45 minutes from Sea-Tac airport. Due to the crazy weather we left 3 ½ hours before my flight so that I could get there on time. My flight was at 10:55 in the morning and we arrived at the airport at 9:15. I got my boarding pass, checked my luggage and went through security. I was in the actual terminal heading for my gate around 10:10 in the morning.
I glanced at the monitors that display the flights and notice that my flight has been pushed back 5 minutes to 11:00 am. I was feeling pretty good about that until I got to the gate. From the time that I had looked at the monitor until I arrived at the gate they had delayed the flight and did not have the updated flight time posted yet. There were no seats available in the gate area so D and I sat on the floor waiting to see when our flight would be.
Around 11:00 they posted the updated flight time. We would be taking off at 11:40 and arriving in Chicago at 5:26pm. My flight to Grand Rapids, MI was set to take off from Chicago at 5:50 so I knew that it would be a close call and that we would basically be running to catch our connection since we had to go from one terminal to another and anyone who has ever been to the Chicago airport will know that it is a good distance from one terminal to another.
We take off on time and I am sandwiched in between a beefy gentleman on my right and D on my left who has the window seat. I try to relax and get a nap during the flight. Every time I would start to nod off D would start wiggling around, elbowing me or talking nonstop for a good 20 minutes. After the first 2 hours of the flight I pretty much abandon my plans to get some rest and I read my book.
We were about 30 minutes from Chicago when the pilot informs us that due to gusty winds in Chicago that we will be in a holding pattern over Chicago for approximately 30 minutes and that we will be landing around 6:10 pm. I think to myself that maybe the flight to Grand Rapids would be delayed as well and that I might still make my flight. Then we get pushed back another 20 minutes in a holding pattern.
I deplane around 6:24 and go straight to the monitors. Sure enough, my flight is long gone. I notice that there is one flight to Grand Rapids at 9:50 pm and another to Kalamazoo at 6:55. I go to the counter and talk to the lady and discover that the flight to Grand Rapids at 9:50 is overbooked to the point where they are not even allowing additional standby. I inquire about the flight to Kalamazoo hoping that I can get boarding passes and arrive at the gate towards the final boarding time. I guess that American Airlines doesn’t really give a crap about customer service as I was informed that to modify my flight that I have to go to the rebooking center which is in another terminal.
D and I power walk about 1/3 of a mile to gate H7 where the rebooking center is. We discover that it is a bank of 3 phones and of course they are all occupied. I stand in line for 10 minutes waiting for a woman who keeps asking the rebooking agent where her gate is. Why she couldn’t use the information booth about 20 feet away I will never know. I finally get a phone and am on hold for another 5 minutes before I reach an operator. I explain my situation and she lets me know that I have been rebooked for a flight that is leaving the next morning at 7:40 the next morning. I let her know that I have to be at work the next morning and that the flight will not work for me. I inquire about the Kalamazoo flight and at this point we both realize that it is too late to make that flight since it is taking off in about 5 minutes (thanks to the woman who wouldn’t help me at the counter). I tell her that I will take any flight to Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Kalamazoo or Lansing. I didn’t care what time or what airline. She tells me that there are no other flights to any of those airports on any airline tonight except for the 9:50 flight that I can’t get on.
I am getting agitated at this point and although the woman was very nice I start to get audibly upset. I ask if the airline will provide a rental car for me so that I can drive the 200 miles home but am told that because the delays were weather related that the airline will not pay for a rental car or a hotel room. I am pissed at this point but I calmly thank the lady and hang up.
I whip out my cell phone, call Funny Girl and let her know not to pick me up at the airport and then I start to cry. D is mimicking my frustration and anger and repeatedly says “Stupid Alaskan Airlines” (American had placed us on an Alaskan Airline flight for this one leg of the trip).
I explain to Funny Girl what is going on and by the time I get off the phone I am feeling a bit more calm. I call my mom and tell her what is happening. She goes online to see which rental car company has the best rate. It turns out that the rental car companies like to financially rape customers that are in need and the least expensive car we could find was the economy car through Alamo for $125.00. She tells me that she has reserved a car for me so I tell her that I am going to figure out how to get my luggage.
I head toward the information booth that I saw on my way to the rebooking center and talk to a very nice, elderly gentleman who tells me that I need to go to baggage claim #10 to ask for my luggage. He tells me that it is a 50/50 prospect that I will actually get my luggage. I head towards baggage claim 10 lugging my carry on a small cooler and my purse. D has his rolling backpack. I arrive at baggage claim 10 and there is no one there. I make some kind of snide comment about the fact that American/Alaskan airlines can kiss my ass and a man about 5 feet away turns around, smiles in sympathy and tells me that the counter agent went to make a phone call and that he would be right back.
I wait another 5 minutes for the baggage agent to return. I walk up to the counter and tell him that I am very upset but that I will try and remain calm. I tell him that I need my luggage. He asks for my luggage claim tickets, types them into the computer and then directs me towards baggage claim #3 as that is American Eagle’s storage place.
Feeling utterly defeated and exhausted I trudge down to baggage claim #3. There was a bit of a line so I sat down on my little mini-cooler waiting my turn. I hand the gentleman my claim tickets and about 10 minutes later I receive my checked luggage. All four of them. I give D my debit card and he runs over and gets me a smart card to load my mountain of bags. I turn back the other way and head back down by baggage claim #10 where the rental car busses are.
I exit the airport and wait for about 4 minutes for the National/Alamo bus to arrive. The bus driver was extremely kind, loaded all of my luggage and then we boarded the bus. Within 5 minutes I was off of the bus and he unloaded my luggage, told me to pick out a vehicle, put in my luggage and that they would take care of everything at the exit.
I pick out a little blue, 2 door Pontiac G-6, load up everything and head to the exit. I hand the woman my confirmation number that my mother had given me and she tells me that it isn’t a valid number. I have to turn around and go to the actual office.
I walk into the office, stand in another line and wait my turn. I get to the counter, hand my confirmation number to the woman and she tells me in a quite snotty voice that it isn’t a confirmation number. I tell her that my mother told me that she booked it online and that was the number that she gave me. The woman snatches my driver’s license out of my hand and types in my name. She tells me that to rent a car for a one way trip you have to use a credit card that matches the driver’s license information or have a return plane ticket. I hand her my ticket showing that I had a flight from Chicago to Grand Rapids and my debit card with a credit card logo. She tells me that this isn’t acceptable. I finally ask to speak to the manager who isn’t much friendlier than the woman at the counter.
I finally am informed that a debit card isn’t acceptable. They need a credit card. I hand her my credit card, sign the paperwork and leave.
I sit in the car for a few minutes calming down and then figure out how to get from the airport heading towards home. I get on the freeway and drive for an hour. We stop, get some fast food and get back on the road.
Originally I was supposed to arrive in Grand Rapids at 7:45 and should have been home by 9:00 so that I had time to get settled in and get some sleep so that I could be at work on Wednesday morning. Instead I get home at 1:00 am after driving 200 miles, stagger into my house and fall into bed within 20 minutes of getting home and then after what seemed like 5 minutes my alarm goes off and I stumble out of bed and go to work bleary eyed and exhausted.
I am still trying to recover.


playtah said...

You are good at retaining your sanity. I would have started stabbing people after the flight-rescheduling fiasco.

I wonder how feasible it would be to eventually have covered runways for weather emergencies. That way, planes could at least land and take off. It'd be expensive and kind of out-there, but kind of cool.

minijonb said...

I've been in the same boat trying to get from Chicago O'Hare to Grand Rapids and needing to rent a car. It sucks. Murphy and his law can eat a dick. Glad you and D made it home in one piece. Can't wait to read the fun stories now that you have the planes, trains and automobiles post out here.

l.b. said...

Wow, that is a story where Murphy and his law just kicked your @$$ royally! I know the vacation proceeding this had to have been fabulous for you to be able to keep you head from exploding while all this was going on.

Tara said...

I have so much admiration for your stamina and patience during all of this. Holy crap, Rachel, you went through hell! The airline could've done so much to ease the burden, but they didn't. I was reading your post and getting all upset for you. How did D handle all this? Did he go to bed easily?

Well welcome back! You were definitely missed!

Eric said...

There isn't much chance I would've remained even remotely calm in that situation. I probably would've been flying off the handle at everyone and by the time a got to the rental car office and she started being bitchy she would've gotten the berating of a lifetime.

ElRanito said...

Wow, what an effort. You seem to have handled yourself well. I know that sprint through the O'Hare airport better than I would like. I have a feeling I will be making it about 4 times in the next month. Not fun.

Rachel said...

Playtah ~ I was tempted a couple of times to stab someone but they don't allow knives in the terminal so I was stuck.

MJB ~ I hope that you experience was better than mine was. To be honest most people were helpful or at least told me where I needed to go to get help but I would have happily drawn and quarted a couple of biatches!

l.b. ~ Yes, Murphy and his law wiped the floor with me.

Tara ~ Now that I look back on the whole ordeal it was pretty messed up. While I was in it I just wanted it to be over and you get a sort of tunnel vision.
D was VERY upset after I got off the phone with the rebooking agent. He was angry because he saw how upset I was. After that he calmed down and he fell asleep about 2 hours before we got home.

Eric ~ I was so tempted to go off on the Alamo chick (I refuse to call her a lady) but I figured that I wouldn't get my car rental so I bit my tongue and was tolerably pleasant.

Elranito ~ Good luck on your flights. They have scaled back the amount of flights that they offer to such a degree that if you miss your flight you will be luck to get another one the same day. Unless you are going to a major hub most of the flights are completely booked.

Erica said...

Rachel, what a nightmare! I can't believe the airline and the Alamo woman!
I have never been in a situation as bad as that, but I know what you mean about the tunnel vision. I think you just go in automatic pilot and get on with it, otherwise you would explode or give up. Is there any chance of a refund for the missed flight or the rental car? After all it was not your fault you missed the connecting flight.

Babybull40 said...

it's too bad that people who work in the airline business/car rental have such snotty attitudes, like they are too good to serve you..That drives me mad.. it's been many yrs since I was on a plane. but when I did and being a Canadian in a different country was quite intimidating for me.. cause you don't know where you are and you only want to go home.Having 4 hr layovers was the worst experience I ever had.. weather had delayed the flight from St. Louis to Toronto.. and it was very lonely.. the smoking section was packed to the roof.. and so was the bar...Glad you made back in one piece... look forward to hearing more....

Babybull40 said...

I was on my way back from Florida around Christmas of 96.

reformattingmybrain said...

Holy crap Rachel! Glad you finally made it home - but dang - wish it woulda been easier! You have far more patience that I do.

Rachelle said...

I feel for you… been there, done that. Because I live in Chicago and am from Lansing/GR, I frequently find myself hosting overnight guests in this very same situation since, as you know, the airline won’t pay for a hotel if the delay is weather-related. And in Chicago, it’s ALWAYS weather related. But at least you were within driving distance!!

Wanderlusting said...

OMG I have my own Alaska Airlines gripe I'm gonna post about sometime this week. ARRRRRRRGGGG! It was HELL getting back from Mexico with them.

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