US Airways Debacle
Here's one time when our route was completely out of whack.
This was the first and only time we flew US Airways. Incidentally, it was also the most expensive. It was 2007, Heidi and I were traveling with our friend Colleen. The trip got off to a bad start, when an idiot light had to be replaced in the cockpit of our plane before we even left Buffalo. Do planes even have idiot lights? That's disconcerting.
Anyway, after an hour delay we were on our way to Charlotte. Yes, North Carolina. I know it's south. Upon arriving there, we discovered to our relief that we had not missed our connection. But, we needed to go ASAP if we were going to make our Noon connection in Las Vegas. Judging by the number of people at the gate, this was going to be a full flight. The ticket agent came on the loudspeaker about a half hour later, and I figured to myself that if we boarded now we'd have our last chance to make our next connection. Instead of calling for boarding, she started calling the names of people waiting standby. Uh oh. She must've called 40 names, which was the reason the gate area was so crowded.
Coincidently, this was also the weekend of the NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas. There are a lot of basketball fans in Charlotte. Finally, about 15 minutes later we were in our seats as the standbys started filtering in to fill whatever seats were left. I'm getting antsy because this process is really dragging, due to the fact no one can find seats with their homies. The Flight Attendants are now getting irritated as these people keep walking up and down the aisle, ignoring their pleas to just sit down because the plane is behind schedule. "We're screwed," I said to Heidi.
Vegas was going to be a tight connection to begin with. Now it seemed impossible. I wouldn't have cared so much, but I knew the next flight out of Vegas for Maui wasn't until 9pm. Figure the time difference and you're landing on the island at 4:30am HST. That's like losing an entire day. Let alone we would've increased our travel time to 27 hours!
In the air, the Pilot came on the overhead to give us our status. (In typical pilot voice) "Uhhhh, good morning folks. Uhhhh, we've reached our cruising altitude of 32,000 feet. Uhhh, were gonna head north for just a bit to avoid the jet stream and make up a little time. Ennnjoy your flight." Okay. But, there's still no way we're making it. I get into my crossword, and it isn't until about an hour and a half later the plane starts to bank left. I think to myself, "A bit to the north?" As we're now finally moving in the direction of our final destination, the pilot comes back on. "Uhhh, if you look out the right side of the plane, folks, you'll see the windy city of Chicago." CHICAGO!? Now I'm just laughing to myself.
3 hours later, about noon, we're making our descent into Vegas. That was the time our original connection was supposed to take off for Maui. As it seemed all hope was lost, one of the Flight Attendants leaned over us and asked if we were going to Maui. Hopefully, I said , "Yeeesss." "Well, they're holding your flight and they want you off this plane first," she said. Elation. As we rolled up to the gate, I had my hand poised on my seatbelt clasp so I could spring into action the second the Flight Attendant gave the command. Evidently, so did everyone else as they all leaped up to grab their carry on bags. I said to Heidi, "Stay with me!" I then started less than courteously forcing my way to the front of the plane, plowing a path for Heidi. "They want us first," I said to the other annoyed looking passengers. As we got to the exit, there was a gentleman standing on the jetway asking if we were going to Maui. Yes! In chorus. "Okay, when you get out of this gate turn left. Then leave this terminal and head for Terminal C, past the Burger King and the Jamba Juice. Go all the way to the end and your plane is at gate 29," he excitedly said. Adding, "Hurry, they're waiting for you."
It was on. We started sprinting through the airport, bags in tow, like O.J. Simpson in a rental car commercial. I noticed another couple with us who were obviously under the same plight. Except, the guy had a huge knee brace on and was carrying crutches. I later found out, he had had knee surgery just three days prior. But, there he was trying to keep up the pace as we passed the Jamba Juice. As we approached our gate, I could see a plane sitting there. Woo Hoo! We're gonna make it!
As I panted my way up to the ticket counter, I noticed all the seats at the gate were full. Huh? I asked the smiling Ticket Agent, "I this the plane to Maui?" "Yes, Sir," she answered. "It's been delayed." WHAT!!!??? "They told us you were holding the plane for us and made us sprint here from Reno!", I exasperatingly explained to the woman. As if that would end the delay. "I'm sorry sir, the plane is delayed at least 3 hours, it's missing a hubcap and we have to wait for it to arrive on another flight from Chicago," she said. Are you fucking kidding me? I don't remember if I just thought that or said it out loud.
I didn't even know airplanes had hubcaps or couldn't fly without them. Or, she was bullshitting me. Either way, we were stuck in McCarren Airport for a few hours. It ended up being almost 4 hours of wasting money in the slot machines, playing with the laptop and staring into space. So, arriving long after dark, we missed out on the thrill of seeing the islands come into view. I felt bad for Colleen because it her first time there. We finally ended up at Kahului Airport at 9:30pm HST. Weary, but still happy. I haven't taken US Airways out there since. Surprised?