We are easing into summer with a slower month of client events. As far as travel goes, however it has come with its own share of adventures. On June 15th I was scheduled to leave Portland Maine, bound for San Francisco via Charlotte on American Airlines. Those of you who have been following me know I am no fan of the airlines and have a lot of experience with delays, changes and the vast number of travel issues that occur. Even by my already low airline standards, this month wins the award for BAD.
|Speaking at the Building Owners and Managers Association International(BOMA). What a fabulous group!|
I was flying to San Francisco to speak at the National Apartment Association conference on the 16th. Before we left Portland the pilot warned us that there was weather near Charlotte but said it was safe to leave anyway. We were in range of Charlotte when they put us in a holding pattern. They needed us to circle for 30 more minutes but our plane did not have enough fuel so we were told they were diverting us to Tri Cities airport in Tennessee to refuel and then fly to Charlotte. I alerted Jane to my change in plans and she called AA to see if I were to miss my connection if they could add me to the list of the later San Francisco flight. The phone agent said she had no knowledge of our diversion, the system was not current and until it showed our diversion they couldn’t add me to any back up lists.
We arrived in Tri Cities and sat on the plane on the ground for an hour. Jane again called and they still didn’t show any diversion so still would not help us come up with a back-up plan. I checked the status of my original connection to SFO and even though the inbound showed it wouldn’t be in until our departure time, my connection was still “on time." Finally, a ground agent in Tri Cities came on board and told us that we would not be going to Charlotte NC, instead we were going to Knoxville TN. Anyone who wanted to go to Charlotte could take a 3-hour bus ride they would provide. Otherwise, there were flights for us in Knoxville to Charlotte, Dallas or Chicago. They gave us a phone number to call to make changes, but closed the door and told us to turn phones off so there wasn’t any time to do anything. We finally arrived in Knoxville (5 hours after we boarded the plane in Maine) and the last flights of the night were all preparing to board. Ironically, the plane I had just come in on was turning around and going to Charlotte but none of us were offered seats on it. And none of us were offered seats on the Dallas or Chicago flights either even though all three flights had empty seats, because “they didn’t have time to print the tickets for us without delaying the flights.”
After a virtual mob scene ensued, the gate supervisor made an announcement that Knoxville had told Tri Cities that they could only accommodate 20 passengers, but Tri Cities sent 62 instead, which meant no one was accommodated. A classic example of pass the buck. I called the special 800 number they gave us and spoke to a nice lady who said, “You are all set, we have rebooked you from Tri Cities to Charlotte, and on the later flight to San Francisco that gets in at 2am.” I said, “That would be great but I am not in Tri Cities. I am in Knoxville.” She said, “I show you are in Tri Cities. We have no information about you being flown to Knoxville.” Serenity now.
As you can probably guess, I was stranded in Knoxville for the night (at my own expense), I missed the speaking engagement the next day and American sent me 15,000 miles for my “inconvenience." I have a different word for it, but whatever.