Last week … I was homeless for a night!
Yes, I have a home in VA. But I wasn’t in VA. Circumstances landed me in NY with nowhere to find a bed or lodging for the night!
Have you heard about the airline/airport craziness going on???
I got caught smack dab in the middle of it!
Weather, a shortage of airport workers and airline workers, plus increased summer travel have collided and cascaded into airport/airline chaos!!!
Woweee, I mean insane chaos!!
I spent the week with my daughter-in-love and granddaughter. My son was working away for the week, so ZeeZee swooped in to assist. I had an easy flight to Louisville. The heat was a bit much in Louisville. Read about it HERE. Everything else was fabulous. Goldie looks and acts like her Dad when he was her age… a lot of déjà vu” commences when I’m with her. I love it!
We couldn’t get a nonstop flight home, which is the first time in a long time I’ve had to change planes. Believe it or not, I was nervous about the transfer. I had 75 minutes between flights. I had heard about late planes for the last years. When we arrived in NY, Laguardia, we were early. I was only 7 gates from my next flight! Great! Wonderful! No problem!! Happy camper!
My second flight posted 10 minutes delay, no worries. They made me check my carry-on at the gate (American Airlines). Instead of it being available when we got off the plane, they checked it through and said it would be at baggage claim at my final destination. Bum, I didn’t want to go to baggage claim. Oh well.
We all boarded, backed the plane up, and traveled down the runway. About a half hour later, the pilot came on and said there was weather in DC, so we could not take off yet. He said, at 6pm, there would be a decision made about the weather and our flight. So, we sat on the runway. He came back on later informing us Reagan National in DC had been closed, shut down for severe weather in the area. We would return to the gate.
Sitting in the plane, my American Airlines App notified me … our flight was cancelled! Even though I was sitting in the plane, none of us told it was cancelled. We all started getting notified through the App. It offered me options for another flight. I responded and got confirmed for a 10 pm flight. I’d never had to use the App for a cancelled flight, so I didn’t have complete confidence that I had booked correctly.
When we got to the gate, they told us we wouldn’t be de-boarding yet. Twenty minutes later, 1 hour and a half since we boarded, they told us we would be de-boarding. “Our flight was cancelled. They had booked us all on the next flight out at 8pm!” Wow, that was nice and efficient, I thought. (The flight attendants told us often the App knows before they do about the status of a flight.)
We all got off and formed a long line to the gate to get our new boarding passes. If I was booked on the 8pm flight, I wanted to get on that flight rather than wait till 10pm. I was about 25 people back in one of two lines from our flight. After less than 10 people left the line, I heard the gate attendant say, “That flight is full!” I assumed they meant the 8pm flight. I still wanted to make sure they booked me on the later flight and inquire about where my luggage might be.
NEWSFLASH … we WEREN’T ALL booked on the 8pm flight, as told!
The line moved slower and slower as the attendant tried to help each person navigate a way forward. I spent the time talking to my line-mate, Nick, from Akron, Ohio. He was the age of my boys. We talked about lots and lots of things. He needed to get to Akron before the morning when a “Big Boss” was coming to meet him. He was new to his company. The company was large, and he felt expendable. He wanted to be a valued employee and not give any reason to plant doubt about his value. Somehow, he had to get to Ohio before work time in the morning.
Nick, in front of me, got to the desk. He asked them to consider any option for getting him there. They offered him no help but to get him on the ten pm flight to DC. That would not help him! His connection to Akron would not be available. He didn’t want to go to DC, he wanted to go to Akron! I felt so bad for him. I just wanted to get home. He was trying to build a career!! They sent him somewhere in the airport. I’m not sure where.
My turn; as I thought, they did not book me on the 8pm. I was booked on the 10 pm by my own doing. My luggage would be in DC, but she would ask them to move it to the 10pm plane if there was time. I stuck around to see if I could get a standby at 8, but so we’re lots of others. The 8pm left at 8:30 and I set off to find some dinner.
The prices outrageous! I wasn’t THAT hungry. There were nuts in my bag. I found a few cheese sticks and because gluten-free crackers weren’t available, I selected chips. And water! Always water when I fly!! Water, water, water. The air is so dry in terminals and on planes.
I had just sat down at the gate for my 10 pm flight and started opening my dinner.
What pops up on my phone…. Flight Cancelled!
WHAT?? NO!!! NOT AGAIN!!!
I quickly checked the options for rebooking on my App. There was a 6 am, 8am flight which both told me “not available” when I tried to book. I quickly checked the next flight at 10 am; got it booked and confirmed.
I scrambled back over to the gate where my previous flight had been and the attendant was still there, plus a flight attendant. I asked if I could ask a question. He confirmed they canceled the 10pm flight. I asked him if there were any other options tonight. He said no. I asked him about hotels, he said, “we don’t do that anymore!” Quickly adding I’d have to go in “that line” for further information!
“That line” had about 100 people in it! I wanted to confirm my booking for the morning. I didn’t get a confirmation email for the flight, booked through the App.
I reluctantly joined ”that line”. After an hour, moving up about ten people, I had it with waiting in line. My feet hurt, and I still hadn’t eaten dinner. I sent my daughter some screen shots of my morning flight info to see if it looked confirmed, so I could ditch this line and get on with figuring out my night.
She and my son-in-love thought it was confirmed. I did have a boarding pass so, I felt reasonably safe. I left ”that line” from you know where!
By this time, “that line” had doubled in size. I later learned it took people 4 hours to get to the front of “that line!” Goodness gracious… the line of torture. By the time you got to the front, all the next day flights were full!!! Some commotion broke out after midnight in ”that line.” The frustration was real. I felt sorry/hopeless for the people in line and the attendants. It was an impossible situation!
By this time, my family and I had been checking every hotel within a reasonable distance … totally booked!! Much to my family’s chagrin, I decided to just give in and stay in the terminal for the night. My options were NIL. I was too tired to fight a losing battle. I had to use any energy left to adapt to reality and make wise choices with my obvious fate.
I was HOMELESS for the night!
In an airport terminal. With several hundred people. I needed to cope. I’d never been in this situation before by myself, but here I was.
It was real!
I needed to rally my spirit and persevere…
Have you experienced airline cancellations this summer?
Homeless, even for a night?
How did you feel?
There is much more to this story, stay tuned for Part II ….