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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Weekend that Almost Wasn't: My Nightmare at O'Hare

Last week, this girl:

got on a plane to go see this girl:

Lis, my FLL.

We drank lots of wine

and ate lots of delicious food
like this awesome cheesecake.

We watched movies

like this
and otherwise had a wonderful time.

But first... I had to get there, and so began the worst experience I've ever had traveling.

I never fly American Airlines, but I'm all about saving money, so I decided to fly with them since they were cheaper this time around. Bad, bad, horribly bad idea.

My flight out of Arkansas was scheduled to leave at 2:30pm. At 2:40pm, we were all still standing around, waiting to go. Everything still said we were leaving on time, even the gate attendant. Turns out... not so much. They "forgot" to let us know our flight was delayed over an hour.

Ay yi yi.

We finally got on board about 4:10pm, and I thought, "That wasn't so bad!"

Pfft. After puttering around on the tarmac for half an hour while they tried to decide whether or not to cancel our flight, we finally took off to Chicago. 10 minutes before landing, the flight attendant told those of us with a connecting flight which gates we were leaving from and our new flight times, because apparently all AA flights in and out of Chicago had been delayed.

We land.. and spend another 45 minutes cruising around the tarmac in the plane while the Captain tries to figure out which gate they want us at. We finally rush off the plane to our next gates... only to be told, "Oh, that flight was cancelled. But here's a voucher for a discounted hotel rate, and if you call this number, they'll get you booked on a flight out tomorrow."

I call the number provided and beg and plead for a flight out that night to no avail. They book me on a flight at 1:20 the next afternoon and tell me it's a "guaranteed flight".

So, I panic. I've never gone anywhere by myself for reasons no important here. And here I am, stuck in Chicago O'Hare with no clue where this hotel is, how to get there, or how to even find the dang airport exit. I call my husband freaking out.

He and my dad finally get me calmed down and on my way to the shuttle... and then I find out the hotel they gave me the voucher for is already completely booked.

So far, this is not going well at all. I'm freaking out again, and swearing I'm never ever going anywhere by myself again... like ever. My husband gets me sorted out with a new hotel and lets me know the shuttle is coming to get me. I wait for half an hour or so, and then hop on the shuttle. I have no bags, no clue where the 'eff I am or if this hotel is in a safe area, but it's nearly midnight by this point and I just want to sleep.

Get to the hotel and they can't find my reservation.


Fifteen minutes later, the manager on duty finds it and apologizes profusely. They load me up with essenstials I don't have since AA made me check my bag, and get me on my way to my room. I sleep on and off, and am up and ready to head back to the airport the next morning.

At 1:00pm, we're informed our flight has been delayed an hour. Lovely.

At 1:20, the gate attendant asks for 7 volunteers to stay behind because they overbooked the flight. In exchange, they'll pay for our meals, hotel, and give us a $500 travel voucher.

At 1:45, no one has volunteered. We've all be stuck in Chicago for the last 16 hours or so. We just want to get where we're going and get the heck out of O'Hare. Not to mention, we're all having serious reservations about ever flying with AA ever again.

At 1:50, the gate attendant informs us that if 7 people don't volunteer, the "last 7 booked onto the flight will not be allowed to board". They will then "be responsible for their own hotel room and meals." I think, "Well, crap. I better go see if I'm one of the last seven."

Turns out...I am. The gate attendant informs me that I can either "volunteer now" or they will "refuse to let me board and I can sort out arrangements for my overnight stay" on my own.

I argue because I've already been told my seat on this flight is "guaranteed", and I have absolutely no desire whatsoever to spend another night of my vacation without clean clothes, in Chicago.

The gate attendant tells me the flight isn't guaranteed, and blah, blah, blah.

I have another mini-meltdown because I am so tired of O'Hare, I'm scared, and I'm alone. The husband tells me to go ahead and volunteer, but to demand they get me on a flight out that night and change my flight back to Monday instead of Sunday. I do, and they promise me I will be on the flight out at 9:50 that night, and if I call their Customer Service line, they will get my flight home bumped back a day for no charge.

I spend the next 8 hours of my vacation roaming around O'Hare. I see a monk using a payphone, help a poor elderly man who tripped and fell face first in the floor, read The Hobbit, and curse AA for being jerks. I'm so upset at this point, I just want to go home. I've spent over 24 hours in Chicago, most of them in the stupid airport, and the AA people have been horrid. No apologies. Nothing. They're rude, abrupt, and otherwise don't really seem to give a shit. The meal voucher they gave me doesn't even cover one meal at the airport (a burger and fries), so I shell out more cash.

My flight out at 9:50 is delayed, and I'm ready to scream. We FINALLY get in the air about 45 minutes late. I make it to my destination a few minutes after midnight, tired, dirty, and air sick. I still need to call the CS department and get my flight home changed, but if I have to deal with AA again, I may actually leap through the phone and begin strangling them, so I wait until I feel rational (a day later) to deal with them again... at which point Mario promises to get me "taken care of". He gives me information about my new flight out, and asks if that's acceptable. I say yes, and then he says, "And that'll be $194.00".

I tell him there is no way I am paying $194. We argue for a few minutes, I hit my bs limit, and tell him to use the stupid travel voucher they gave me. He says no, they can only use that for a new flight.

What the crap?!

I've officially had enough. I tell him where AA can stick that particular flight out because there is no 'effing way I'm ever 'effing flying with them again. Granted, it's not a particularly polite comment, but I'm furious! I've spent the first half of my vacation in an airport because they screwed up, and now they want to charge me $200 more out of pocket for something the gate attendant promised I wouldn't have to pay for?

Um... no.

I call the husband and tell him if he doesn't deal with this jackasses, I'm going to climb through the phone and start putting feet in body parts. It's ugly, y'all.

He tells me to drink wine with FLL and let him deal with it, so I do.

45 minutes later, he calls back with my new flight information. Thank god! I relax and commence with enjoying the rest of my vacation with my FLL, which was fabulous. But I'm honestly horrified at how awful the entire flight experience was. Everyone I spoke to was incredibly rude. Had even one person said, "I'm sorry," I probably wouldn't have been so upset. As of today... I still haven't heard an apology or anything remotely close to it.

So I still think AA can take that travel voucher and shove it because I will never, ever fly with them again.

When I got back, Odin and the husband met me at the airport with lots of love. And yesterday, this little guy:

brought me this:

donut delivery!

to welcome me back.

Which leads to this: even if AA sucks, I can safely say I'm incredibly fortunate to have really amazing people in my life who look out for me, take care of me, and turn really bad situations around when nothing else does. I'm blessed, and that makes me happy.

American Airlines can still stick it though.

Never again!

What's the worst travel experience you've ever had?

Fade - The Ragnarok Prophesies: Book One - On Sale at: Amazon US | UK | DE | FR | IT | ES | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Books-a-Million

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