I hate flying

Yesterday was one of the longest days ever spent travelling, and makes me remember why I hate flying so much.

I had a 7 AM flight into SFO, and had to catch a 4:30 AM 28X. Therefore I decided not to sleep the night of the 22nd, because it was easier, and I was getting into SFO at 1 PM and had plenty of time to sleep anyway. Big mistake.

Got to the airport around 5:30 (took Supershuttle instead because I didn’t want to walk 30 minutes to campus at 4 AM). There was a huge line to check bags (about 20 minutes) and a huge line for security (even at the alternate checkpoint; about 45 minutes). I had less time than I wanted to get food and eat at the gate, but it worked out in the end since I always budget so much extra time at the airport for myself.

The flight started out fine. We were in one of the new Southwest 737s (larger, longer, more open, more comfortable) for the PIT -> LAS leg, which was a nice experience. Got into LAS around 9:30 only to find that my connecting flight (scheduled for 11:30) into SFO was delayed until 12:30 due to weather conditions.

The delays were extended twice (finally scheduled for a 4 PM departure) before they cancelled the flight. There was no announcement to go up to the podium to be reticketed (rather, there was an announcement NOT to go to the podium while the agents tried to work out alternatives), so I ended up near the end of a very long line and therefore had very few options by the time it got to me. With no more seats on SFO-bound flights, I was instead reticketed onto a plane for OAK, leaving after 10 PM.

So I got to spend 12 hours in the Las Vegas airport trying to find things to do and wanting desperately to sleep. That was not fun.

At least the salad I had for dinner was tasty, even if I was so stressed out by that point that it took me over 90 minutes to eat it. (And I’m normally a really fast eater.)

So I eventually make it into OAK after 11:30 PM, and go to the baggage office to deal with my checked bag. No one there seemed the least interested in helping me, only telling me repeatedly to check the carousel that did not contain my bag. (Which was surprising given it’s Southwest, that I usually have nothing but good experiences with.) Eventually the agent at the carousel tried looking up the bag tag and told me to call the SFO baggage office. Who confirmed that they had the bag (not unexpected) but that I would have to go get it at my own expense due to “voluntary separation”.

So yeah, that was pretty ridiculous. They had over 8 hours from the flight cancellation to retag my bag to Oakland. Failing that, I would have expected some effort on their part to reunite me with it. Failing that, I would have expected at least some compassion or interest in my situation from the people working. I know it’s been a long day for everyone, but you could at least try to help confused, tired, and cranky passengers. This was made worse by the fact that I was dumb and didn’t carry on any clothes (never had checked bag issues before) and it was after midnight by that point (so I couldn’t make it down to SFO to get the bag).

So I couldn’t really sleep last night, and ended up waking up at 6 AM and being unable to fall back asleep. Which means I’ve had a total of 5 hours of sleep in the past two days. Went to SFO this morning at 7 AM to get it, so now I have clothing, and feel more reasonable. But still really, really tired.

On the plus side, the hotel I’m staying in is pretty awesome.

Edit: Whoa, this hotel has free wine every night. It took me 3 chardonnays before I discovered they had sangria (so tasty!). Best hotel ever.

Edit edit: My hotel apparently has chair massages (like, sit-down massages with a professional masseuse) on Fridays. My back feels much looser now.
Also Southwest responded to my complaint letter (I complained only about the baggage and not the delay, since weather delays aren’t their fault), and wants to make things right. They’re offering a voucher (that I haven’t received yet), which is really awesome of them, given I wasn’t expecting anything at all.

2 thoughts on “I hate flying

  1. I’ve gotten to the point where if there is any conceivable way to avoid connecting flights and checked luggage I avoid them. Sometimes to the tune of an extra $200 dollars. Or flying to an airport that is farther away renting a car and driving for two hours. I’ve spent just enough time stuck in airports I now am just willing to solve the problem via more money.

    The other big tip I have is if you think a flight might be canceled find someway to get the phone number for ticketing with the airline. As soon as they change the status to canceled unless you are already talking to a gate agent. Get in line, call the ticketing number and ask if they can help get you on a flight. Get out of line as soon as they tell you they can help. You can get your ticket re-printed by the gate agent at the new flight.

  2. Have you left a note of complaint for Southwest customer service? I hear that you can get good results at a lot of companies if you post something on e.g. Twitter saying you had a crappy experience. Your case seems pretty good: (1) If there were no flights to SFO, going to OAK doesn’t sound so much like “voluntary” separation to me so much as doing the only thing possible to not stay in Las Vegas indefinitely. (2) Voluntary separation or not, airline officials you talk to shouldn’t treat you rudely when you ask them for help.

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