Saturday, August 10th…
I’m definitely jinxed!
I can’t actually remember the last time I traveled when all flights went on time and were hassle-free. Our last jaunt was shaping up well – we were on our way to the US south west – Phoenix via London and back via Chicago. The outward trip was fine and after a great vacation, we were heading home.
The connection was always going to be a bit tight – about 90 minutes – but the flight left Phoenix on time and we weren’t changing terminals in Chicago. We were, as usual, seated near the back but fellow travelers were very obliging and we got off the plane quickly. A brisk walk brought us to our new gate. They hadn’t started loading so we even had time to go and buy a coffee before our 10.15pm flight.
Ladies and gentlemen, there will be a slight delay, the maintenance team have not yet cleared the flight for take off.
At about 12.30am the flight was cancelled. Then the fun began – hotels, taxi vouchers, food vouchers, rescheduling…..
The American Airlines staff were actually impressive – I can’t fault them. Extra ground staff appeared at nearby gates to help with the queues. Of course, they tried to put everyone on their own carrier so while we were being redirected to Dallas the following evening, the guy beside us was being sent to Dublin via Madrid.
We weren’t under any huge pressure to get home. Off we went to the local Best Western for the night and got the shuttle back to the airport on Sunday. Our Dallas flight was at 6.50pm and on to Dublin at 11.00pm.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this flight will now depart at 7.20pm.
A bit tight but we should be all right.
Email from American Airlines:
Flight delayed until 7.45pm
We didn’t hang around – we went straight to customer services. The staff here were a tougher bunch than from the night before – I suppose if you’re dealing with stressed customers all day long it takes its toll!
A.A. No – You won’t make your connection in Dallas. I need passports and baggage receipts.
Within about 5 minutes, there was a massive queue behind us. We recognised several faces from the previous night – others redirected to Dublin via Dallas and now not going to make it.
There were several phone calls, disagreements about what was and wasn’t still available, mumblings and rattling of papers.
M. About our bags?
A.A. I can’t talk to you – if I talk it’ll slow me down.
Ok. So we shut up and wait… and wait… we whisper about whether we’d opt for a different hotel and if anything had to be cancelled at home on Tuesday.
At 6.47pm, she was off the phone but hassled.
A.A. You’ve seats with Aer Lingus tonight but its tight. You have to go now. Straight away.
M/T. Go where?
A.A. The fight is boarding at 7.35. I can’t give you boarding passes. You have to check in with Aer Lingus.
M/T. We still have to check in!! Where’s the desk?
A.A. Terminal 5. You need to get the shuttle. You really have to hurry!
M/T. About our bags?
A.A. Your bags went to Dallas – they’re fine. You really have to move now.
So off we run …. I’m getting too old for this!!!
We run to the exit and find the shuttle stop as the bus pulls away. The nicest employee ever was directing the shuttle service and took us under his wing. The next bus arrived within minutes.
No – You 2 don’t get on yet.
He let everyone else on ahead of us.
Now get on and stay at the door – Terminal 5 is the next stop – you’ll be there in about 15 minutes darlin and you’ll be first off the bus.
The driver got in on the act:
How much pressure we under?
M. A lot – its not looking good.
OK – We’ll make it. Hang on everyone!
I don’t want to get anyone into trouble but we must have reached Terminal 5 in about 5 minutes. Most passengers just closed their eyes and hung on for dear life. He was brilliant!
Of course there was no one still queuing at the Aer Lingus desk so we were sorted straight away.
M/T Don’t suppose we have seats together by any chance?
We tried not to look too hassled as we went through security. No delays. On we go. Its 7.30. We’re actually going to make it!
M. I need the loo
T. I need the loo
M. Well I’m going first – you go to the gate and try and get us seats together.
I know my luck has changed when there’s no queue for the women’s loo – how often does that happen!
The door jambs and I’m locked in the cubicle!
I’m not making it up!
Of course the place is empty because everyone is ready to board the plane.
There’s about an 9/10 inch gap under the door. Never going to fit under that – not after 2 weeks in the US! The side partitions reach the ceiling. No escape there.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
M. Hello – Anyone there?
Yes I’m here.
A lovely northern Irish accent to the rescue!
M. I’m stuck. I’m having a very bad day and I’m on the Dublin flight.
Me too – Hang on.
We both bang the door and jiggle with the lock. Nothing.
I’ll get somebody.
Off she goes.
M. Please tell them at Gate 3 not to leave without me!
Back with another voice – female member of the security team.
Is the door locked?
M. Eh Yeah!!
Was it locked when you went in?
With the intercom blaring announcements and my stress level peaking, I give her the benefit of the doubt and assume I’ve misheard what she’s said!
A bit more jiggling and banging.
I’m going to come in under the door – you all right with that?
Well! Under different circumstances, this could be interesting!
M. Yes. That’s fine. Look, will someone go to gate 3 and tell….
New footsteps. Something is wedged into the lock.
Thank yous have to be brief.
T. Where were you! (not his exact words!!!)
M. You wont believe what happened to….
For some reason he’s not interested in my story! He throws me the new boarding passes and dashes for the loo!
The plane was half empty so we could spread out over 4 seats. In Dublin, there was confusion at the help desk as to whether our bags had gone to Dallas or Miami (but they were delivered 8 hours later so all’s good). We came out of the airport into a lovely sunny morning. What’s not to love about travel!! Can’t wait for the next trip!