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?