Posted by: mdmusingsie | October 29, 2012

Travel is an Adventure

If you don’t view travel as an adventure, you’re bound to be frustrated at some point in your trip.  After two international and two United States (US) domestic flights on my recent journey, I would have been shocked if all of them had been trouble free and without delay.  Had that been the case, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.  🙂

My first adventure occurred on my first US domestic flight.  Diligently checking the status online the morning of departure, I discovered a delay which lengthened as time went on.  O’Hare airport in Chicago is notorious for delays and as I boarded the bus from Milwaukee for the 90 minute journey south I could only hope the flight wouldn’t be cancelled by the time I arrived.

After a 5 hour delay, most of which I spent alternately wandering the corridors of the H, J, K and L gates we finally boarded the plane.  It wasn’t until we were on board that they explained the reason.  The aircraft that was supposed to go from San Diego to Portland (OR) and onto Chicago to take us back to Portland had a mechanical issue and they didn’t have a part available.  Spare planes are a thing of the past, it seems, and the only extra one available was in Oklahoma getting a new paint job.  Fortunately for us, the painting was complete and the plane could be substituted for the broken aircraft.  They never actually said whether the plane went from Oklahoma to San Diego and Portland before arriving in Chicago or just went directly to Portland, but I suppose it didn’t matter as long as I was safely on my way.

I’ve had a trip delayed by a volcano and now I can add hurricane to my repertoire.  Hurricane Sandy (you know it’s a bad year when they make it to the S’s in tropical storm/hurricane naming) was making its way up the East Coast of the US causing my Chicago to Washington, DC to Dublin flights to be cancelled.  Based on the news reports, I had been expecting this news and wondered whether I would be stranded in Chicago or Washington, DC.  Oh, and for how long.

The cryptic cancellation email made no mention of any automatic rescheduling, so as I sat in my hotel room, contemplating whether to go to O’Hare and stand in line to find out my options or phone first, I decided to check the computer.   Having arrived in Chicago from Dublin on a direct flight, I checked the Aer Lingus site to see if the return flight was still operating.  (For those wondering why I hadn’t booked the direct flight back in the first place, the answer is the most obvious – cost.  Until my Lotto tickets pay off or my wealthy knight in shining armor shows up, I will be relegated to the cattle car section of the least cost, most reasonable route option.)  Beannacht to the gods and Aer Lingus that this particular flight was still scheduled for departure.  As it travels toward Toronto and through Eastern Canada, it was able to bypass the bulk of the massive weather system.  Now the trick was, could I get on that flight.

Having done my research, I was able to have a pleasant phone conversation with the United Airlines representative about available options.  When he suggested a Chicago to London to Dublin alternative I politely asked about the Aer Lingus flight.  Assuming he would be dealing with a large number of harried, stranded passengers over the next several days, when he asked if I would prefer the direct flight over the one hop I resisted the urge to reply, “DUH!” and merely said, “Yes, please.”

Despite the delays and the fact that I had to wait two hours to check in for the new flight (I had to check out of my hotel by 1 pm and the Aer Lingus counter only opens 3 ½ hrs before the flight), plus another half hour while they verified my ticket (technically I only had a confirmation number from United, not a proper ticket) then another few hours wandering International Terminal 5 at O’Hare waiting for my flight, my blood pressure remained at a reasonable level.  I was returning to the land that calls to my heart and soul and would actually arrive an hour earlier than originally planned.

I can’t end this saga without giving my kudos to Aer Lingus for actually checking seat numbers during boarding and turning away people who’s seat number had not been called.   Finally, someone has decided to end the insanity of cutting in line.  Now if only they could get people to place their luggage properly in the overhead bins…I guess that’s asking a little too much for one journey.

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