I consider myself pretty lucky with airport luck. I booked a flight with Landen to MI on American (which was, at the time, my second favorite ‘major’ airline behind Southwest, who didn’t fly where we needed to go.) A month or so later, Ash was cleared to fly despite starting her 8th month of pregnancy and we were set to fly. Would Ash’s typical bad luck bring down the flight?
Well, Ash or no Ash, American Airlines screwed the pooch on this one. Let’s break down what happened.
1st Flight – RNO to ORD (Chicago) – We print our boarding passes out the night before and were all set. Then at 3:45am Ash gets a phone call. We call back to find out our flight has been cancelled. No reason why, just cancelled. Ash calls them up and talks to someone for a while, who was very inept and poor at explaining things. We get a new flight booked that will actually put us into MI earlier than anticipated. Okay, this could work out after all. We decide to get to the airport early “just in case.” Bear in mind, we have a 2 year old who, despite being a patient toddler, is still a toddler.
We check in at the airport to be told that we’re not BOOKED on the flight, we’re on standby. We have a choice: go to American, wait in line amongst the other people who are in our boat, or just go to the Delta flight we’re “booked” on and hope to get on. We choose that (as we were first on the standby line). At the gate, they inform Ash that they’re getting all of the American holdovers and just turning them away. But he tells us “you never know.” So we figure we’ll wait out the 90 minutes to see if we get on the flight.
Then, our makeshift flight that we MIGHT get on is running late. First a half hour, then 80 minutes. If you looked on the ENTIRE Reno flight board, there were only 3 flights with any negative status changes: ours that got cancelled, the incoming one that was late, and our outcoming one was late.) It now seemed pretty unlikely we’d make our connector and we’d be stuck in MN, not Chicago.
Finally, they start boarding. They call families. They call all boarders. I finally get tired of waiting and say “When will you know the status of the stand-bys?” ”Oh, you can board. You’re all on.” We go to the final checkin guy who seems to think we’re not on, but after a while, we all get seats near each other. Landen sleeps through almost all of the 3 hour flight. Thank Goodness.
Flight 2: ORD to GRR – So instead of an 80 minute layover, we have about 40 mins. And of course, we are at one extreme end of the airport, and our next gate is at the extreme other end. I take off running with the car seat and tell Ash to find a tram. I reach the Delta desk only to have the lady there tell me that we’re not booked on the flight at all. She asks me who booked it, and I nearly swear telling them the episode with American, and she pauses for a few minutes. Then, wordlessly, she hands us our tickets. We do arrive at Grand Rapids over an hour earlier than our original trip, but with many many more gray hairs.
Flight 3: GRR to ORD – We get to the airport with about 90 mins before flight – we don’t anticipate any issues since this flight isn’t cancelled for no reason. We look on the board. There are only two flights with messages, one unrelated one that is delayed, and ours which says “Volunteer”. I speculate that they overbooked. Turns out I’m right.
We get to the gate to hear announcements that they are looking for two volunteers to bump to a later flight, offering $300 vouchers. If we didn’t have a 2 year old, we might do it, as it’s only 4 hours later, but we got the 2 year old. After a few more pleas, they announce that they are involuntarily bumping people from the flight based on the order the tix were purchased. First name up? That’s right, ole’ Ash (bear in mind, she couldn’t book her tickets earlier because she had to wait for medical clearance.) They tell her she can “volunteer” and still get the $300, or if she says no, she won’t get any voucher and will be booted off. Ash waddles back (perhaps exaggeratedly) extremely upset (not all exaggeratedly). We talk. All three of us could get bumped and make $900 in vouchers, only having to wait four hours. Then they tell me they won’t arrange any transportation to and from the airport in the interim, meaning we have to entertain a tired toddler for 4 hours (he had gotten up at 3am his body-clock time) in an airport.
I go up and give the 2nd degree (I wasn’t quite at 3rd degree yet) asking that the airline is REALLY going to separate my 8-month pregnant wife from her 2 year old son for reasons SHE WASN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR!?!? Unacceptable. I felt bad for the guy (I don’t think he was even typically a desk-guy – he was wearing an orange vest), but really, it is totally unacceptable. Right as they’re about to close the gate, he tells me we can all get on. All our seats are separated (of course), with Landen sitting alone. After a few nice volunteers moved, we got to sit together.
I didn’t find out what happened – did someone else volunteer non-verbally? Did he arbitrarily kick people off? If someone else volunteered, I would have liked to thank them. Oh well, American sucks.
Flight 4: ORD to RNO – This one was fine, other than Landen being pretty much done with flying. He napped for about 1 of the 3.5 hours. But his “done” is still better than 90% of toddlers’ best days.
The summary? American Airlines, once my second choice, has just lost my business.