Monday, April 14, 2008


When I got to O'Hare there were two lines in the United terminal; one was long and one was short.

The ridiculously long one was for MD-80 passengees from American Airlines.

I got in the line.

I waited.

I looked at my watch.

There was no way I was going to make my 2PM flight.

Everyone in the line was annoyed; their flights had been cancelled.

We waited.

And waited.

From time to time the line actually moved.

A few people - those whose tickets had the correct type of confirmation number - were plucked from the line and ushered to self check-in kiosks.

Not I.

When I finally got to the front of the line they could not find my name on the 2PM flight.

They couldn't find me on the 5PM flight, either.

Apparently there was a problem on American's end.

The screwup was so unusual that customer service agent, who was incredibly efficient, had to leave her post and ask her superior what to do.

In the meantime I started dialing American. They still weren't taking calls.

After some time the woman returned. She had two receipts in her hand.

One was for standby on the 2PM flight.

One was for a confirmed seat on the 5PM flight.

Both were covered with a line of S's.


She handed them to me and pointed towards the security gate. "I think you'll make it," she said.

How, I wondered, could I do that if I had to go through the high-security frisking and suitcase-sifting.

Apparently she knew what she was doing.

Because the TSA person saw my ticket, he whisked me and another woman to the nearly-empty high-security area.

We made it through in three minutes flat.

I arrived at my gate panting.

The flight was still boarding.

I had time to fill my water bottle.

I had time to get a little something at Wolfgang Puck's.

Then I went back to the gate.

And waited.

And waited.

My name was too far down the list to make standby.

So I skulked away.

I drank my water.

I ate my little something from Wolfgang Puck's.

I wandered around the airport.

I found a quiet corner and took a good long nap in the sun.

And I finally flew out at 5PM.

I was in the last row, in the very last seat.

But I was in very good company.

The entire back row was filled with American passengees.

It was a very exlusive club.

And each and every ne of us felt lucky to be there.

Very lucky indeed.

* * *

On the way home my flight actually left on time - for the first time since I started going back-and-forth to the teacher training in February.

The problem was with the CTA (subway or metro).

After two stops we all had to disembark and take a bus for a few miles, before we were let back on the train.

It took forever.

It was exhausting.

But at least it was over fairly quickly.

* * *

Long before the problem with the MD-80's I booked my next trip to NYC on my home town airline - United (which, incidentally, flies bigger planes (757s) with TVs on the ORD-LGA route, and serves the drinks shortly after takeoff rather than withholding them until mid-flight, when you've already given up).

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:16 AM

    wow what an incredible set of travel pains in the ass. you should get a medal for being sucha good sport, i reckon.