Oct 25

Airline Hell

Welcome.  Come sit by the fire right here in airline hell with me and I’ll share my tale.  It’s been told by many but to experience it firsthand is really something else.  And by “something else” I mean it’s like nothing else because the shit that airlines get away with is equal to what some people are locked up in prison for.  Theft. Lies. Nastiness.  Ok, you can’t be incarcerated for nastiness (thank God!) but there was a lot of it, not the least of which was on my part.

It all began with so much promise.  I was flying out to Tucson, AZ for my much anticipated Duathlon National Championship race.  Since I know that getting across the country (especially for a race!) can be a daunting task, I allowed an extra day for travel but never really thought it would be necessary.  The first clue was when the boarding time came and went and was followed by an announcement:

“Going morning folks you may be wondering why we haven’t started boarding yet and the reason is that we have no crew.”

I’m sorry, I thought you just said there was no crew?  As in, no pilot?  No flight attendants?  The actual plane is sitting at the jetway…empty?  Yep.  Ok….where the hell are they?  Apparently they were still at the hotel.  What the what?  Now, if you know me at all, you know I hate to fly.  Hate it.  Any kind of divergence like this from the plan and I immediately start spiraling into crazy town.  I’m now thinking they all went out boozing last night and are hung over somewhere, and I don’t care if they show up, I don’t want to get on that plane!

Moments later, the pilot emerges and promptly gets in line for coffee.  Coffee?  In the morning?  Clearly, the man is hung!  The hubs calms me down and assures me the rest of the crew will surely be along any moment now.  Nope.  Apparently, the flight attendants arrived around midnight the previous evening and are mandated to get eight hours of rest before they can fly again.  This sucks for those of us who are supposed to be on a flight at 7:40am.  And, I don’t want to sound like a complete jerk but do the flight attendants really need all that sleep?  I’ve driven my SUV around for hours with toddlers in the back on less then 3 hours sleep.  A lot. I think they can handle safety drills, drinks and announcements on 6 hours.  But I digress…and I blame the airline.  Is this the best you can do American Airlines?  You only have one crew available at a time?  Turns out, they can do much better then that.  Oh yes sireee.

Around 9:00am the crew shows up – hallelujah!  They start boarding…and then stop.  There’s a mechanical issue!  Of course there is.  We couldn’t figure this out when the plane was sitting on the tarmac for the last two hours…oh no, what fun would that be?  Oh and the mechanics?  They’ll be along in 15 minutes.  Here’s where the nastiness starts.  One guy starts cursing up a storm and another throws his bag on the floor and declares “That plane ‘aint goin’ nowhere!”  All the women remained calm.  I assume they’re moms.

At this point, the hubs and I had to reschedule our connecting flight to Tucson.  We were told another flight left Chicago at 12:30pm.  We were originally slated to leave Chi-town at 9:55am but hey, this is why I booked us a day early because these things happen.  So, after another hour, we miraculously take-off around 10:30am.

View of Chicago when I still thought I was getting on a 12:30 flight to Tucson.

View of Chicago when I still thought I was getting on a 12:30 flight to Tucson.

I don’t cry even once on the flight and that is a victory for everyone.  We get off the plane and look for where our gate is for the 12:30 to Tucson.  12:30 to Tucson?  Tumbleweeds.  There is no 12:30 to Tucson.  There’s a 7:55pm and we’re booked on it.  This is the lying part.  This is also the part where we start to lose our shit.  When you have dreams of being kid-free and sitting in 80 degree temperatures by noon on a Thursday with a cocktail in your hand and are instead stranded at Chicago International Airport for the foreseeable future, things get sour.

This was pretty much my entire day yesterday.  Isn't it interesting?

This was pretty much my entire day yesterday. Isn’t it interesting? This is a view flying into LAX – oh joy.

We were redirected at least three times because apparently American Eagle has nothing to do with American Airlines (why would they really, it’s just the same damn company!) and had to walk to what they call the “re-booking phones” which we all know should be call the pick-me-up-and-bitch phones because that’s what everyone on them was doing.  Including me!  Then my husband.

For our troubles, we were re-booked on a lovely trip around the country.  First stop – Los Angeles!  Sure…why the hell not?  We’re in Chicago, coming from Connecticut and going to Tucson.  Makes perfect sense.  Assholes!  Oh and why not stay at LAX for six hours until the next flight out to Tucson?  Sounds fun, right?  It wasn’t.  Next stop –  Tucson?  YOU WISH!  Our final flight out to Tucson after 12 hours of traveling was delayed another hour. 

I will probably just sleep until the race because I feel like a beaten dog.

Here’s a re-cap with some totals just for fun:

Total travel time: 12 hours

Number of planes: 3

Number of major cities airports visited: 2 (Chicago and LAX)

Number of times we were booked on different flights: 4

Number of people at AA I “talked” to: 8

Amount spent on baggage check and wi-fi: $90 (I’m never not flying Southwest again!)

Number of on-board cocktails had: 57 (kidding! not even one.  why?  I don’t know!?)

Number of swears by us and others: countless

Chances of this happening on our return flight: obviously excellent

I hope to God that this is no indication of how this race is going to go!  I want to come home (at some point?) and say “wow the trip out was the hardest part!”  If that’s not the case, we may just ship the kids out here and move in with Melissa from The Valentine RD who I was actively tweeting with in-flight to LAX.  Thank you Melissa!  Don’t worry, it will only be temporary and then I can go to all those awesome classes you get to experience!

I should note that for all this BS we were “given” $100 flying vouchers from American Airlines.  If those morons actually think I want to ever fly with them again, I clearly did not make my point over the phone!

What’s the worst travel experience you’ve ever had?  What’s the best way to deal with awful airlines?  


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  1. Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness

    Thankfully the couple of times I did fly went pretty smoothly. I anticipate my luck running out at some point however. Shake it off girl! Have an amazing race and I hope your flight back will be better!
    Kristina Walters @ Kris On Fitness recently posted…The Hills… Indoor Edition & Energy Bits GiveawayMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks Kris! I’m already feeling better this morning and getting excited!!

  2. Janine Huldie

    Omg, that sounded absolutely awful and this is why I try so hard not to fly anywhere if I don’t have to, especially having my kids with me. Wishing you tons of luck with the race and the trip home now, too!
    Janine Huldie recently posted…Halloween Memories For Me Over The Years~FTSF 41My Profile

    1. vita88

      Thank you! The only saving grace was NOT having the kids with us – OMG, can you imagine? We probably would have had to just stay over in Chicago or LA! Thanks for showing me a bright spot:-)

  3. Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama

    Allie, just take out all of your frustrations at the incompetent AA on the bike. Use that frustration to churn your way down the course. I see a new age group, hell, a new course record, in your future! So sorry you had to deal with all of that crap. Shake it off, get some rest, and own that race!!
    Nicole @ Work in Sweats Mama recently posted…20 Reasons to Be ThankfulMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Thanks so much Nicole! I’m feeling a lot better after a good night sleep and a great breakfast. I’m getting excited seeing all the other athletes here. It’s going to be good and FUN!

  4. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance

    I am so sorry you experienced this! Flying is the absolute worst. They are really terrible. When we were coming back from California we missed our flight because they had moved the time up since our booking and we didn’t know about it and the lady at the counter was a total b*tch like it was our fault. The only thing that makes it better is when you have status with them. They are marginally nicer to you only because you spend a bizillion dollars with them and you are actually entitled to things as a result. Actually American was very snotty with me when we flew to Hawaii for our wedding. The lady at the counter told me we might have to check my wedding dress (over my dead body b*tch, this dress costs more than you! Not really but I felt that way). And then another American lady loudly announced to the incredibly long line we were in that we were not entitled to enter the first class lounge because our first class tickets were not full fare. Yep and the honeymoon was over…

    Anyway, I really hope that your flight doesn’t mess with your mojo. I know you’ll do great because you are an amazing athlete! AND I am so happy that despite this horrible experience you didn’t have much trouble with the actual flight! Good luck!
    FitBritt@MyOwnBalance recently posted…Friday’s Food and Fitness: The Fall EditionMy Profile

    1. vita88

      OMG Britt, that is awful! The snottiness just added to the aggregation. Aren’t they supposed to be trained in customer service? When you work for an airline isn’t 80% of your job dealing with miserable travelers? It would have made it 90% better if someone acted like they gave a shit. So awful!
      I’m feeling better now and I’m going to be so ready to race in the morning!! Thank you!

  5. The Dose of Reality

    I cannot BELIEVE this happened to you. It is a NIGHTMARE. You are so smart to have built that extra day into your travels. SO SMART!!
    Here’s the thing…I think this bodes well for your race. I think you’ve already experienced whatever shenanigans you are going to experience with the planes. From here on out, it’s smooth sailing. (If your flight had gone perfectly, you’d still have shenanigans in store for you…but not now!!)

    Good luck with your race. I know you are going to ROCK IT!! Show those pointy helmeted people how it’s done, Allie!!

    Ps. Your “the women remained calm. I assume they’re moms” made me LAUGH OUT LOUD. That was the best laugh I’ve had all day. hahahahaha SO TRUE!!
    The Dose of Reality recently posted…Pinterest Nightmare #488: Baby BangsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I like your logic!! I’m going with that. So far so good because my bike is here with two new tires and looking ready to speed down that course.
      SO happy I could make you LOL! That truly makes my day since I LOL *every* time I read one of your posts. Thanks again for the confidence boost!!

  6. Tamara

    Oh geez. American is the worst! Southwest and Jet Blue are awesome. Of course my worst experience was during a blizzard from Vermont to NYC. A lot of the other passengers were barfing into their barf bags. I turned up the volume extra loud on my ipod (this was clearly years ago) and huddled against the window.
    Tamara recently posted…Anything Can Happen On Halloween.My Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh wow – that sounds horrible!! Yes, I absolutely love Southwest and I’m considering writing them a love letter.

  7. Dana

    Ugh! We had some issues on our flight to CA this summer – all flights to SF cancelled. We had to fly from Baltimore to Phoenix to LA to Oakland and drive to SF – but our luggage went to SF and we got it the next day. Now that all this crap happened, the rest of your weekend will be smooth sailing!
    Dana recently posted…More treat than trickMy Profile

    1. vita88

      OMG that is horrible!! I actually thought we would be driving at some point. I’m still in shock that we made it. The only saving grace was that our luggage was actually there when we arrived. A small light at the end of the tunnel!

  8. Kate

    Oh goodness! Totally need more than $100 voucher. Air travel always has its issues! Enjoy your trip!!
    Kate recently posted…7 Deadly SinsMy Profile

    1. vita88

      It really does! Anytime I can fly direct, I do just for that reason. Thanks Kate!

  9. Kim

    YIKES!!! So not cool. I was telling Chris and he said that from the get-go they should have just called in another crew. And, I cannot believe that through all of that you didn’t have any on-flight (or airport) cocktails. I would have told American that I would use my voucher to buy drinks for the day!!!
    Yep, all of this will make the race that much more fun!!
    Kim recently posted…Proud MamaMy Profile

    1. vita88

      That’s what we were thinking about the crew! Is there really only one? Of course not, just another example of how they just don’t care.
      I did have two drinks at the 6 hour layover at LAX but it barely made a dent in my frustration. Oh well. Onward!

  10. Karen @BakingInATornado

    Been there, done that and oh, so much more. I’m sorry, I totally feel your pain. And I hope you use it to fuel you in the race.

    BTW, don’t worry about not wanting to use the vouchers, I guarantee that any time you tried to cash them in you’d be told that particular flight is not eligible for voucher use.

    Hope your trip back is less painful.
    Karen @BakingInATornado recently posted…Scaring MomMy Profile

    1. vita88

      OMG you are so right about using the vouchers! So frustrating. Thanks Karen!!

  11. Clarinda

    Wow. Certainly hope your race goes better than that! Yikes.
    Clarinda recently posted…Happy Friday + One Crazy Weekend aheadMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Me too!! Thank you!

  12. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

    Your flight sounds alarmingly similar to my parents recent trip. Although they were on Delta and didn’t even get vouchers. Use all that frustration at your race. Leave it all on the road! Good luck!
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted…I Think I’m An AddictMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I will! Thank you, and sorry your parents had to go through something similar. It’s an epidemic!

  13. Noel-Marie

    Allie –

    Being the Queen and President of the Society of Incredible and Stunningly Attractive Douchebags of America, when my time has been wasted (not to mention my patience) I would love to offer my services to you and be the one to write a strongly worded letter to American Airlines on your behalf. I’ll take those *fantabulous” $100 vouchers you received, enclose a American Airlines cocktail napkin that I lovingly used on myself after a particularly disturbing bathroom visit after eating 24.5 pounds of Velveeta cheese dip without taking my lactose intolerant medication and mail it back to the powers that be at good old AA and tell them, “Thanks for the vouchers sweet cheeks but the next time I fly on your God foresaken, shit for brains, complete and utter clusterf*ck of an airlines, will be when Flavor Flav is in the White House and the first lady is Vanilla Ice.

    Let me know when you want the first draft.



    1. vita88

      I couldn’t love you any more then I do at this moment. Please start writing!!

  14. Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama

    Omg Allie, this was really really bad. You are good for having no cocktails. I had a similar experience coming back from Atlanta a few weeks ago and 90 minute trip turned into 9 hours. but mine was weather related…it is NOT fun being stuck in the air for such a long time unable to do anything—at least you had wifi. I flew American as well, maybe you can donate your voucher to someone travelling? Good luck on your race my friend, we are all cheering loud and proud for you!
    Nellie @ Brooklyn Active Mama recently posted…ELM Baby – Awesome Organic & All Natural Products for Mommy & BabyMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I would LOVE to give them to someone else but, of course, they’re not transferable!
      Thanks Nellie!!

  15. Carla

    Ugh! I do a lot of traveling planning at work and I don’t think anyone has had this horrible of an experience. And we fly AA a lot. Of course, they are all platinum members or whatever AA calls it. I guess the rest of the folks just get screwed.

    How horrible! I hope you can relax and forget about it before the race. Hopefully writing about it helped.
    Carla recently posted…Real Into Reads No. 31: Boobies & SunshineMy Profile

    1. vita88

      I’m sure they take care of their “platinum” peeps but sadly that does nothing for us. I can only hope the trip home goes smoothly!

  16. Michelle

    Wow. That is just awful Allie! I am so sorry. What a nightmare! I hope the race is awesome! Can’t wait to hear about it!

    If it makes you feel any better, my 13 year old daughter who was flying by herself for the first time last year was bumped (who bumps a kid?) and then re-routed her into Newark (instead of Bradley) coming in at 1:30 am. I was a wreck, but she handled it quite well.
    Michelle recently posted…Getting Spooky with our Halloween Bash {Ladies Only Blog Share}My Profile

    1. vita88

      OMG!! Seriously, who bumps a kid? That is very scary. Glad she was able to handle it. I would have been a mess right along with you!

  17. Ilene

    Oh honey! Feeling your pain the biggest way ever! I have always taken the first flight of the day out of Newark when I loved in NJ – especially if transfers were involved – because I knew that I could get delayed anywhere from 1 – 24 hours – depending on whatever silliness the airport or airlines felt like doling out that that! And yeah – the $100 in vouchers? Not even close to making up for that BS. Not even close.
    Ilene recently posted…A Difficult ConversationMy Profile

    1. vita88

      It was awful! I’ve heard so many awful stories and it’s really just horrible to be at the mercy of an airline. You were very smart to get the first flight out each time!

  18. Pam Lonsdale

    Oh, my, that’s not pretty. I have had so many bad experiences with flying – the worst being a 4-seater Cessna that dropped into the Atlantic Ocean while I was on it. Commercial flying is always a challenge, except for Southwest (the only airline I fly now). The best way to deal with their bullshit: my husband, Jim. When we missed a flight from Ft. Lauderdale to Hartford many years ago (their fault – half the people scheduled to be on that flight missed it), Jim demanded to see a manager and then proceeded to rip him a new one. The result was 4 round-trip tickets to any destination within the US we cared to travel to; we went to Tucson. True story:-)

    Looking forward to hearing about your race, which is why I checked out your blog tonight. Hope you got that cocktail next to a pool with the hubs.

    1. vita88

      OMG Pam! Are you kidding me about that flight? I would have had a heart attack and died on the spot.
      I tired to bring out my inner “Jim” but they just didn’t care. I’m not giving up though. I’m resuming the fight once we get home! As for the race, it was AWESOME!! I should have the recap up Monday morning:-) Thanks Pam!!

  19. Leah

    That is a terrible story:(((( It totally sucks. I have had to spend the night in the Newark airport – bcs of delays and “all the hotels are booked so find yourself a nice chair to lounge in for the next 12 hours”. I also got stuck once in Amsterdam – but I didn’t mind that!! They gave us a swanky hotel and everything!!
    Leah recently posted…“Can Do” GuyMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Sometimes being “stuck” is not so bad…this was not one of those times! Spending the night in Newark is horrendous!! I’m glad you survived that.

  20. Alison

    Oh my, that’s such a nightmare!
    I’ve had several terrible experiences – one of which involved taking a train to the airport, flying an hour, arriving to then take a bus which was late, and stopped several times. The ferry we were supposed to take was also late because of bad weather. Arrived 5 hours later than expected. This was all in the same day. To go to some dinky island for a company trip. Sigh.
    Alison recently posted…That Time I Lost My ShitMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Oh no! That is really bad because it’s not like you’re traveling for a fun vacation or anything! Just awful.

  21. corlie

    Oooo, that does sound nasty!
    My worst travel experience was by bus from Hanoi in Vietnam to Vientiane Laos. We booked a ‘luxury sleeper bus’ for the 24hour drive only to get picked up by an overloaded van and dropped next to the highway outside of Hanoi. Then we were shuttled into an overloaded non luxury hard seater bus which stopped every hour to cram more people and chickens and boxes in. Of course we never made it to Vientiane but were bundled out of the bus about 15 km outside the city and left to figure out our own way from there.
    Needless to say we took a plane back to Hanoi…
    corlie recently posted…Finding peace in ChinaMy Profile

    1. vita88

      Dear Lord!! That makes my trip sound like a dream come true. That is truly awful!!

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