I Used to be Special, But Not Anymore

Until this week, I have had extraordinarily good luck when it came to airline travel. I could only look on compassionately as others recounted stories of cancellations, delays, and lost luggage. I don't recall ever missing a flight, being too late to make a connection, or having my bag take a different trip than the one I was on. Given the state of affairs with US airlines, though, I knew it was only a matter of time before this changed. And change it did on my trip this week to and from Binghamton. I'd never before flown home -- it's usually terribly expensive and the circuitous routes and layovers generally make driving the faster option. This time, though, I got a good fare and a reasonable schedule. I should have been very, very suspicious.

I was flying through Philadelphia both ways -- initially, at least. When I arrived at National, however, I discovered that all the flights into Philly were delayed so late that making my connection was going to be impossible. The gate agent agreed, and determined that Syracuse was the closest he could get me. This meant that my mom, who was having cataract surgery the next day, was going to have to drive 70 miles in the dark to pick me up. Oh, and the flight wasn't scheduled leave for another two and a half hours, which eventually stretched to more than three hours, getting me into 'Cuse after 11. Perfect.

Yesterday started out much better. My flight out of Binghamton left on time and landed 10 minutes early, but my happiness was quickly deflated by the red letters spelling 'canceled' next to my connection back to DC. After dealing with a couple of US Airways folks with a limited understanding of what customer service means (including a woman on the phone, who -- after confirming repeatedly that I wanted to fly last night -- booked me for this morning) I settled in for a four-hour wait for the 10:50 p.m. flight. Or I should say, 10:50 p.m. scheduled flight. We left just before midnight, getting me back to National, in a taxi, and home a little after 1:00 a.m.

I pause here to note that yes, once I was delayed in Philly I know I could have rented a car and driven home in less time than I had to wait at the airport, but I was being cheap. And stubborn, obviously. I'd paid for a plane, and I was going to take a damn plane.

The Cliffs Notes version:

  • total hours spent waiting in airports: 9.5 hours
  • total flying time: less than three hours
  • hours it takes to drive from DC to Binghamton and back (with traffic): 10

Sigh. At least I hand-carried my luggage.