Is there anyone who doesn't think flying has become a hassle?
In a few days I'll be traveling from Los Angeles to New York, and I'm already dreading it. I hate flying!
As a former travel writer, I used to love flying. I would get excited to sit on a plane for hours, watch movies, read, nap and even eat some airline chicken (it wasn't that bad, was it?). But years later, every part of flying has become a hassle—figuring out the best airfare, booking the flight, checking in on line, paying for baggage, going through security, boarding the plane, disembarking and waiting for baggage that may never come.
There's no way all these aspects of flight will go smoothly. Most likely several will be a disaster. I have a theory—if an outbound flight goes well, the flight home will be hell. A good flight that arrives on time has become such an anomaly that I know it can't possibly happen twice. It barely happens at all. But twice? Forget it. No way. Recently, I had an amazingly flawless flight. When I arrived at my destination I said to a friend that this just meant my return flight will be a nightmare. She thought I was joking. A few days later, I was stranded in Philadelphia overnight, thanks to a missed connection.
Here are some of the things that have gone wrong for me. Perhaps you can learn from my mistakes:
Last year, I booked a flight online for Virgin America. Their online booking system had a bug and somehow switched the dates. Of course I didn't check their confirmation e-mail until nearly the date I thought I was flying—and that's when I learned my ticket was for a week later! When I called, Virgin said it was my fault for not checking the confirmation as soon as I received it. I had to re-book the flights for hundreds of dollar more. When I returned from the trip, I wrote a letter to someone in charge explaining what happened. After again being admonished for not checking the confirmation e-mail, I was eventually reimbursed.
Lesson: Always write letters to complain when there is a problem. And check your e-mail confirmation the minute it arrives!
My husband's luggage was lost on a Christmas Eve flight, which really stunk since it was filled with presents. To make matters worse, the airline called our home at three in the morning to tell us that they still hadn't found the luggage. Thanks for the info and thanks for waking everyone in the house up too! Luckily the luggage eventually arrived. Unfortunately, it was several days after Christmas. So much for surprising the kids with Tickle Me Elmo.
Lesson: Try to travel with only carry-ons.
A few months ago, I attended my college reunion in upstate New York. I flew US Airways out of Rochester, New York and had a stop in Philadelphia.
Of course, the Rochester flight was delayed. When I arrived in Philly, I only had minutes to make my connecting flight to Los Angeles. Of course, the connecting flight was in another terminal. But I raced through the airport and arrived at my gate with ten minutes to spare. I took a deep breath, amazed I'd made it....until I looked up and saw that the plane had left TEN MINUTES EARLY! And stranded about ten of us who'd come in from Rochester!
When I complained at the gate, the airline representative shrugged her shoulders and said that boarding the flight was a half hour ago. But boarding doesn't mean departing, right?
She said yes it did and the plane had to leave because passengers had to make their connections in Los Angeles. But what about passengers making connections in Philly? We somehow didn't matter! It was the last flight of the day. I had to stay overnight.
Lesson: Try to take direct flights. If you can't, make sure you have some overnight things in your carry-on. You may have an unexpected hotel stay (and make sure you get a special distressed passenger hotel rate from the airlines!)
Bon Voyage. And wish me luck! I'm sure I'll have more stories next week. What are some of your airplane horror stories?