Adventures in air travel

You know the meme that was really popular last year, showing different pictures representing various perspectives of the same thing? What my friends think I do, what my mom thinks I do, etc? (Here’s a link to some funny ones.) I haven’t found a good business travel one (just some not awesome ones) but the answer to “What I really do:” could have been my trip home from Boston last week. While people often think business travel is exciting, glamorous, and filled with first class booze, anyone who actually does it knows the reality is far different.

Last week, I flew to Boston. I had some delays getting there (which of course meant I actually arrived at my hotel at 1am), but I discovered the delightful Vino Volo in DFW which made up for it. My work went incredibly well, and I even had time to take a little adventure into downtown Boston for some sightseeing and incredible food.  I knew there was some weather across the Midwest, but when I got to the airport my flight was listed as both leaving and arriving on time. For the first 3.5 hours the flight was totally fine, and we started our descent on schedule. The pilot even told us that we were one of the lucky flights to be able to land on time. That must have totally jinxed us, because soon after the dreaded “circling” announcement was made. We circled for over an hour, wandering around the skies. I had a short connection, but figured others would be delayed as well so wasn’t too worried.

Boy, was I right! DFW was a madhouse when we finally landed. Flights were delayed or canceled. People were wandering around aimlessly or standing in long customer service lines. Food stands were literally cleaned out. And to make things even more interesting—the screens with flight info were not updating. So my flight showed to be on time and at gate C12, even though I knew it was delayed an hour and leaving from C14. Anyway, that hour delay turned into two hours. We had our plane, but no crew. The flight attendants were stuck in OKC, and the pilots flying in from Monterrey. Once our flight attendants arrived we got to board (around 9pm) while we waited for the pilots. As time went on, I got message after message showing additional delays. Finally, another dreaded message: canceled. The gate agent came onboard and not only confirmed, but made sure we knew there was basically no way we would be getting out that night because the two remaining flights were overbooked. Oh and not to expect any compensation from American either. Nice. You know you’re in trouble when they start setting out piles of cots in the airport!

I got on the phone with our travel department, and found out that the next available seat, on any airline, was the next day at 4pm. Since it would only take me about 3.5 hours to drive home, I declined that option. Although I considered driving home that night, I chose to spend the night in Fort Worth and then drive a rental home. I finally arrived home 15 hours later than I was supposed to.

Even though it definitely wasn’t ideal, I know that I’m really lucky my company would pay for a hotel and a rental car. I know people who would have had to sleep at the airport, or pay out of pocket for a room. Don’t let anyone tell you business travel isn’t glamorous!

Readers, was anyone else affected by the weather last week? Would your company have paid for a hotel room, or would you have had to stay at the airport?

Comments

  1. This sounds so much like my travel last week. I had the worst weather travel day in years. We sat on the ground an hour and then back to the gate and back out to sit again, etc. Throughout the day I was booked on 4 different connecting flights and at one point was told later connection flights were full (thank goodness for a preferred representative who searched for misconnects and found me a seat). All I wanted to do was get home to my daughter and husband. Eventually, I got home 6 1/2 hours later than scheduled (13 hours after leaving my hotel room).

    I have only been “stranded” overnight twice and my company paid for the hotel room both times. Normally our hotels are expensed to the client, but in these cases our company paid since it was beyond what the customer expected to pay for. One of the trips I contemplated sleeping in the airport because of the lack of reasonably priced hotel rooms near the airport and my boss told me to get a hotel room because he felt it would be safer for me. I do feel bad for the passengers I see stuck and faced with paying for a room they didn’t expect to have to pay for and sleeping in the airport.

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