Monday, January 5, 2009

We Almost Made It

Before retiring last year my job required that I travel about 50% of the time so travel for me was not exciting. It was in fact a pain. I didn't mind being somewhere out of town, it was the getting there part that I really hated. Yesterday I found out that things haven't changed much and traveling is still a major pain.

The Bride and I left the house at a little after 10 am yesterday on our way to her Great Aunt's funeral in North Carolina. Timing was tight and we bought the best tickets we could on Friday. Those tickets required us to fly through Minneapolis to North Carolina on Northwest Airlines. That would not have been my choice....but we didn't have a choice.

To start things off, since we bought last minute tickets, we were marked for the complete security screening. This included the puffer bomb detector and an intense baggage search. I made it through the puffer ok but the baggage search turned up an unopened toothpaste tube I had bought the day before that was 1 ounce over the limit and was confiscated. Also, since they were last minute tickets both of our seats were center seats and the plane was packed.....I had almost forgotten the joy of feeling like a sardine with a big shouldered stranger on either side of me reducing my seat space to about half of the actual seat.

Even though it was a balmy 3...read three...degrees when we reached Minneapolis we were glad to be able to get out of the sardine can. At least it was clear and not snowing. We were almost looking forward to our 3....read three....hour layover so we could allow our bodies to recover from the first two hour leg.

So, The Bride and I ate a "gourmet" dinner at one of the airport restaurants and watched the Minnesota Viking football game. For my dinner I had the local specialty....Walleye Fingers? I've fished for many years but have never seen fingers on a fish. The Bride stuck to a less adventurous soup. After "dinner" we went to the gate to wait on our next flight which was scheduled for 7:15 pm.

At 7 pm the flight was posted as Cancelled. The Northwest agents couldn't give us a reason although one said something about "weather". Well, we knew the weather in Minneapolis was good enough to fly because we watched about 100 planes take of or land while we were waiting. As I was walking down the concourse just before the flight was cancelled I looked at the Northwest weather map on the TV screen and it showed no severe weather between us and the east coast. We had also talked to The Brides mother who was less than 40 miles from the airport we were supposed to fly into and she said the weather was gorgeous. I suspect the "weather" comment was just a device for them to cancel what was probably an unprofitable flight for them as there were only about 15 people in the gate area.

The agent told us that the earliest flight they could provide for us was the next day (today) at 7:15 pm. The funeral was today at 3 pm. There really wasn't any purpose in spending the night in Minneapolis and getting to North Carolina after the funeral so we asked to be flown back to Denver.

We were lucky that there was one last flight at 10 pm back to Denver and they squeezed us on. Squeezed is appropriate because every seat was full again and again we sat in center seats. This flight was really bad because everyone was carrying on luggage (including myself) and about half way through the loading process they had to start checking baggage because the overheads were full. It was horrendous. The crew offered no help at first and just allowed people to continue to go to the back of the plane with their luggage. That caused a massive jam when everyone tried to bring their bags back forward to check. Then the crew allowed people to put their bags on the jetway for checking and reboard without claim checks......Another jam when people had to come forward, identify their luggage and get a claim check.

We arrived back in Denver a little after 11 pm. I felt like a piece of paper that had been wadded into a spit ball. The Bride had checked her bag so we had to wait on that and wait and wait. Finally a Northwest representative made an announcement that they were understaffed and things were taking a little longer than usual....and oh, by the way, they can't get the cargo door of the plane open to get to the bags.

We made it home a little after 1 am this morning and just went to bed without even unpacking.

This morning I called Northwest to see about getting a refund for the $900 we spent to travel to a funeral and never made it to. I had a lengthy discussion with the agent about the weather. She said the flight was cancelled because of weather but couldn't tell me where the bad weather was. Finally after talking with a supervisor I was told they had requested a refund for me.......they couldn't guarantee that I would get it but I would know in a couple of days.

I'm not holding my breath and I'm trying to figure out what my options are if I don't get the refund.

I feel sorry for those road warriors that have to travel a lot for their jobs. It's a nasty part of today's business.

Thanks for visiting.

1 comment:

Marian Love Phillips said...

Terrible you and the Bride had to go through all of that...but have been there and done that...no fun for sure. Life is an adventure. I do hope you get your refund. $900.00 is a lot of money especially when you did not get to your destination. I would not hold my breath either...but... Good Luck!

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