Tuesday, June 5, 2007

David to Chicago: Part One American Airlines

I flew to Denver last week to help move David out to Chicago. He is moving up there to take a job at a really neat church that is doing some very innovative things (more to come).

Anyway, this trip was cursed from the beginning! I flew on American to get there. So I awoke at 4:15 am to catch my flight to Dallas. No problems so far. I trek from Terminal A to Terminal C at DFW to make the 8:15 a.m flight to Denver. But as we get on the plane to go to Denver the waiting begins. After pulling onto the runway, the pilot comes on the announcer and says "The flaps don't seem to be working, maintenance is on the there way." In the meantime, we pull into an empty gate at Terminal C and wait about an hour before they tell us that the plane is unfixable, and they are going to try and find a replacement. We unloaded the plane and waited at the gate. About 15 minutes go by and they announce they have found us a plane, its back over in terminal A gate 15. So we all head to the train and take it over to terminal A.

While in route, ominous clouds are waiting our arrival as a huge squall moves across all of North Texas. The rain comes (with the lightning) and all of the flights are grounded. I glance up at the screen (our flight is not listed because it was supposed to have left already) but all of the other flights to Denver are canceled. But we are assured that our plane was there and the crew was available and as soon as the clouds cleared we were on our way.

We wait about 2.5 hours at the new gate. Finally the rain clears and we are ready to board. They call the first boarding group and WHAMMO. The electronic check in rejects the boarding pass. The attendant announces that apparently the flight has been canceled. WHAT? They couldn't tell us this two hours ago. She says that due to the new airline "Bill of Rights" American doesn't allow passengers to wait four hours. The mob grow restless as this point. Half of the people sprint out of the gate to the terminal to rebook, many grab cellphones to rebook, a few of us hang around the gate to see who gets punched!

After 30 minutes, the attendant says that we definitely can not reinstate the plane, so I also leave the gate and head to the ticket counter where as soon as I leave security join several the line wrapped around the terminal and appears to be at least a 45 minute wait. I get on my cellphone and amazingly get a AA rep on the line. He mentions that the next flight to Denver is 10 pm. UGH. I contemplate going back to Amarillo and regrouping when he says that the flight I was on looked to be back reinstated with a 12:30 department time. A look at my watch, reveals 12:15. I hope back in the security line and work my way to the front.

As I approach the TSA personnel, glory is only a few short steps way. She reviews my boarding pass and tells me, "Your boarding pass is past the time to board so I can't let you through. You have to get a new boarding pass from the the ticket counter." WHAT!?? I peer over my left shoulder at the languishing line and think you have got to be kidding. I ask her to get an AA rep over to ok this cause there was NO WAY. She asks me to step aside and wait. At least 10 people behind me in line also have a similar fate, and we are herded to the side. 15 minutes pass and finally the AA rep gives the ok to let us through to the gate. GLORY AT LAST!

After a scoot through security, I get back to A15 and nobody is around. NOBODY. One of my fellow security hold ups, is on the phone with his wife and passes on the information that we have been moved to A10. So we scurry down to the new gate, new plane and new crew.

After about 20 minutes we finally look to be getting on the plane. We board with literally about 1/2 the people that we started with on the first plane. I am sure many people just gave up or went home. Engines rev up and the stewardess takes drinks orders. Nothing. A solid hour passes with no movement. A steward comes on the overhead and announces that we are waiting on the luggage to be delivered from Terminal C, along with some sarcastic remark like "It doesn't do you any good to get to Denver with no luggage!". Are you kidding? We had over 4 hours to deliver that luggage but it is just now being sent over. Unreal.

But the plane did take off and we made to Denver only 7 hours behind schedule. On to the move . . .

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