When your trip goes awry – Part 2

by Steve Brock on January 10, 2013

Departing Flight

You never want to see your departing flight from outside the aircraft...

Here I am, waiting for my new flight after my original flight to Orlando via Atlanta was cancelled.

So what’s going through my mind as I wait for a second time?

  • An irrational need to try and find an outlet and make sure my laptop, phone and tablet are all charged. This day has offered up too many surprises already. I need to be prepared for anything, or so I think.
  • A hyper-focus on how I’m feeling. Sure, I’ve felt better and not being able to talk isn’t fun, but why do I keep thinking I’m going to feel worse than I do because of a longer trip?
  • A question: Why did the Southwest Airlines plane I see out the window just do a loopty loop on the tarmac? It made a full 360 degree turn and now it is stopped 150 yards from the terminal, waiting much more patiently than I am.
  • Stress about what seats I’ll have on these new flights.
  • Control. Why such an obsession with control?

The latter two points cause me to head to the gate for my new flight and hang around for the non-existent representative so I can nail down my seat and get my boarding pass. After 15 minutes here pondering the above thoughts with no gate agent in sight, I get an email from my travel person.

She’s booked me the exit row and I’m all set to go. Yay! Since I still have an hour until departure, I decide to hunt down an electrical outlet (see the first point above). I finally find one several gates down from mine where I am now typing all this.

I look at my watch. Time to head to the gate for boarding. I get to the gate and wait and wait in front of the desk in a line that has formed in the few minutes I’ve been away. I finally talk to the representative, but by now the plane is halfway boarded. I tell her I need my boarding pass because I was rebooked on this flight.

She looks on the computer then tells me I’m not on this flight.

She says has no confirmation and informs me the flight is full. “All fifty seats are taken,” she adds for emphasis as if “full” wasn’t clear enough.

I’m stunned but explain the first flight’s cancellation and how they rebooked me just an hour ago. She finds the reservation but repeats more firmly this time that it wasn’t confirmed (her emphasis) and there are no seats available on the flight. She’s not only dismissive, she’s borderline rude. She informs me it is all Delta’s fault and I need to go back to Delta.

I mumble a less-than-genuine “thank you” as I walk away, a bit incensed. I call my travel person who reminds me that she has emailed me the confirmation and even reserved the seats so how could I not be confirmed in the system? She’s no happier with American at this point than I am.

I go back to the counter and show the rep my email confirmation, all to no avail. She tells me again that Delta should have called her at the desk earlier to confirm. I refrain from noting that no one was at the desk earlier nor do I point out that airlines use these things called computers for a reason.

Instead, I just look at her like a lost puppy, both of us knowing there’s nothing she can do at this point as another American employee closes the boarding door behind her.

She lets slip a perfunctory “I’m sorry.” Maybe she means it, but I’ve already moved away from the counter, thanking her but not sure what for.

I want to cry.

I know that sounds pathetic, but with this cold and being tired from a long week so far of travel and meetings, that’s how I feel. I call my travel person who is graciousness personified. Again, I’m back to waiting for someone else to solve my problems, all eventualities out of my control.

I will soon discover just how out of control they are.

To be continued…

If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out Part 1

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