Yesterday I got up at 4 a.m. to get ready for my flight to Texas. The news showed a picture of the U.S. with Oregon/Washington and Texas covered with rain clouds. "Great," I thought. "The two places where I'll be today." Well, not so fast. After 90 minutes on the airplane, they kicked us off saying they had canceled the flight: tornadoes in Texas had shut down the Dallas airport. I was now in a queue of hundreds of others trying to make alternative arrangements. American Airlines had no other flights, but after 90 minutes on the phone, I'd managed to get booked on an overnight Delta flight to Atlanta with a connection to Austin (my destination). The Delta flight was leaving San Francisco at 10 p.m. so I flew down there (having to go through Portland security a second time, this time getting a special "extended check") and arrived at 8 p.m. After waiting in the Delta queue, I was told they had my reservation, but needed an actual ticket voucher from American -- so I had to walk 10 minutes to the American queue (two terminals away). When I finally got to a rep there, they gave me a ticket and I went all the way back to Delta, only to have them tell that despite my confirmed reservation, the flight was overbooked my 18 people and there was no way I was getting on that flight. Delta blamed American, American blamed Delta. What a mess!
I had to go all the way back to the American desk, only to find it now swamped with people, where I had to wait in line for an hour to talk to someone. Nice. I'd only been waiting for American reps about four hours all day so far, why not longer? The American rep was nice but couldn't do much: she couldn't even comp me a hotel as supposedly my whole reason for the missed flight was "weather." (I don't agree: they flew me to San Francisco where I would need a hotel when I could have stayed at home for free.) I was booked on a 10 a.m. flight to Chicago today. I made reservations at a local hotel but the free shuttle never arrived. I'd also called a friend who lived nearby -- he was going to meet me at my hotel but since the shuttle wasn't there, he picked me up instead. After checking in to my room, we went out for a late dinner (it was eleven p.m. but he hadn't eaten yet either). I went to bed at midnight quite exhausted.
I arrived in Chicago at five with the anticipation of a four+ hour wait for my 9:30 flight. But looking at the board I saw there was a 5:45 flight to Austin so I wondered if I couldn't be bumped up. I hurried to the gate where the flight was just starting to board. Unfortunately, the standby list for the flight had 40 people on it! I gave up that dream. (There were still 35 on standby for my flight. I overheard someone say it was because so many people were still trying to make up for missed connections due to the original weather delays and cancelations.) So, to end a long adventure, I arrived in Austin at nearly 1 a.m. (our departure from Chicago was delayed by 30 minutes the flight crew was late).
I missed the whole first day of the conference, though it was kinda neat to be able to keep up with news from the conference via twitter and blog and forum posts with my iPhone.