As you know, I have been out in San Francisco for a while. We left on Thursday of last week (I do apologize for being sneaky but with us both gone from the house at the same time...you know...creepers, robbers and all that). My original flight home was scheduled for 10:45pm this past Friday night out of SFO, otherwise known as the Red-Eye flight. On Wednesday, I started monitoring Hurricane Irene a little closer. Things were not looking all that great for getting home. On Thursday, I started getting emails and text messages from Orbitz telling me that there would be no change fees if you were flying to certain airports. My airport was one of those. I decided to change my flight to an earlier flight on Friday. As I mentioned above, I was getting text messages and emails from Orbitz. I highly suggest booking through Orbitz. You don't have to deal directly with the airline unless you are at the airport. They send you updates about your flights as they come up - cancellations, delays and gate information. It is a great resource.
I called Orbitz on Thursday and knew I was in trouble when the recording that put me on hold said my wait time was greater than 30 minutes. At least they're honest, I guess. I waited for 44 minutes to talk to a representative. The rep I spoke with looked up my flight information, contacted United for me and 45 minutes after I started talking to him, I had a new flight that was scheduled to leave SFO at 11:55am on Friday, connecting in Chicago and landing in Raleigh at 10pm. Great. I am going to get home and get home earlier than expected.
I got on my flight at 11am and everything looked good for my layover. When I arrived in Chicago, I turned on my phone while I was still taxiing on the runway and .... bad news. Text from Orbitz - your flight to RDU has been cancelled. Whomp whommmp. The only good news about this is I knew this before getting off the plane because there is no way the airline would have texted me that information.
I started trying to figure out other plans. Being stuck in Chicago and needing to get home to Raleigh is bad news. You can't just rent a car and drive from Chicago to Raleigh. I texted my husband who asked how he could help. I asked him to get on the phone with Orbitz. He could call them and I would see if I could find someone inside the airport to help. Whoever got a hold of someone first wins.
Here's the annoying thing that I found at the airport, there was no one at the Customer Service desk. Grrr. I decided to go find an empty gate somewhere and hunt down a customer service rep on my own. I walked 10 gates down from where mine was and finally found a gate where there were some customer service reps. I chatted with one who told me that all flights to RDU out of Chicago were cancelled until Sunday evening. Seriously. So, the agent asks me where I would like to fly into. Uhhhh...the only airport I could think of was DC. There were no flights to Charlotte that evening. The agent got me on the flight to DC and I called a friend who lives there. She offered to pick me up and put me up for as long as it took until the hurricane had passed. I love her.
So, I flew into DC. Our plane's luggage came out. Guess who's bag wasn't on the turnstile? Yup. My bag didn't make it. I went to the customer service desk and they looked up my bag. It was still in Chicago. Of course it was. I walked out to my friend's car and we stopped at Harris Teeter for hurricane provisions.
|Source: Google Images|
All weekend, I was told that my bag could not be located. At 1pm on Sunday, I received a call from United Baggage Department. They scanned my bag into the system and they will expedite it to Raleigh. That's good news. Now, shall we talk about the best things to do when your flight gets cancelled?
If your connection is cancelled:
- Before you leave for the airport, double-check your flight information for all legs of the flight.
- If you are flying during a possible weather event, pack an extra t-shirt and undergarments in your carry-on luggage. Ps...I did not do this. I learned.
- If you find your connecting flight cancelled, start by searching for the nearest Customer Service counter for your airline. If you do not see one, walk down the aisle in the direction of the most airline gates. Find one that is not busy that has agents available.
- Let the agents know your problem and they will work with you to find you a flight out. If you cannot fly into your airport, see if there are any flights into airports nearby. You could possibly get someone to pick you up or rent a car from that airport.
- If you can't get on a flight that day but do get one for the following day, walk out of the security gates and find the tables near baggage claim. They will have phones that will directly connect you to the local airport hotels. This is the best way to find an airport that will be able to bus you to and from the hotel.
- If you have friends in the area where you are stuck, call them. If they are home, they will probably take pity on you and ask you if you want to stay with them.
- If your luggage does not show up, report it immediately while you are at the airport.
- Find out where your luggage is. Is it delayed, still in another airport or lost?
- Make a report and make sure you have the document receipt. This will be your contact to your airline's luggage department and your luggage.
- Call the 800 number you are given every 8 hours or so. The recording will be able to give you the information you need. If you need to change anything, you will have the option to speak to a representative.
- Ask for a stipend if you need anything. I was able to borrow some items from my friend. I borrowed all the items you would normally get at a hotel. These are the items I felt were necessary purchases since I was without any of my clothing or toiletries (I did have my make-up and face lotion with me):
- Two t-shirts
- 1 pair of jeans
- 1 pack of undergarments
- 1 hair brush
- 1 toothbrush and 1 toothpaste
- 1 deodorant
- To go along with the above, if today had been a work day, more items would have been needed:
- Shoes (I wear flip flops on airplanes)
- Curling iron
- Hair Dryer
- Possibly socks
- Possibly more days worth of work-appropriate clothing.
- If your destination changes, call the number on the luggage receipt and give them the new address. The airline will deliver your luggage to your house, you do not need to go back to the airport to get it. They messed up, so they will take the extra effort to get the luggage to you.
As of 4pm on Sunday, my luggage had been found. It was in Chicago. It will not be in Raleigh until at least late Sunday or Monday. No big deal considering I'll be home by then. Big deal if I wasn't going home! Speaking of which, I got home at 3pm on Sunday. I ended up renting a car one-way from Dulles that my company will pay for. I don't know what time I could have gotten on a plane back to RDU, so the best bet was just to drive home. It's SO nice to be home!!