Thursday, June 16, 2011

(Literal) missed connections

"The flight to Jacksonville has left."

Given the time, this wasn't a surprising statement but I had hoped that my connecting flight had also had been delayed due to the weather in Chicago. Quite how a storm in Illinois came to be my problem on a Buffalo to Florida flight is anyone's guess. However, it was apparently due to this that my first flight had been late departing, causing me to miss my connection at Washington Dulles. At 10 pm, I knew there wasn't going to be another flight that day and I trudged off resignedly in the direction of the United Airlines customer service counter. 

To be fair to them, United were making an attempt to sort everyone out. I had expected to be told that weather was considered 'an act of God' and I was responsible for my own arrangements until the next flight out of Dulles. Instead, I found out that I had been automatically rebooked on a flight the following morning and could have a complimentary a hotel room .... except there were no hotel rooms left.

Slightly strangely, the fact I qualified for a hotel voucher was due to not being a US resident. While I wasn't going to object, I couldn't see why my situation as a Canadian resident was worse than anyone else who had flown in from Buffalo. They couldn't exactly nip home for the night either. Perhaps it was due to a believe that nowhere outside the US had exciting buildings such as hotels so foreigners would be flummoxed. Or maybe it was merely that Americans should be responsible for their own weather system.

Either way, Canadian, American or British, there was no room at the inn so it was rather academic. They did provide everyone in the queue with a $15 meal voucher. The person next to me in the line looked at this coupon before asking;

"Where is the nearest restaurant?"

"Behind you," he was told. "But it's closed."

I was preparing myself for an uncomfortable, hungry night in the airport lounge when a woman in front of me asked about taxi vouchers to take us into Washington DC. Dulles airport is about 30 miles outside the city, so a cab ride wouldn't be an incidental expense, coming to around $60 each way. Her idea was there might be hotels there with free rooms. My idea was that there was a friend there with a free couch. Surprisingly, United bought into this idea. Possibly the line of irate passengers was becoming annoying and sending them to get lost in the city sounded like a great plan.

It's perhaps not conventional to visit someone between 12 and 5 in the morning, but my friend took it well. I rolled into his apartment in the middle of the night and was out before the dawn to catch an early morning flight. Really, when you look at it, these were highly questionable actions. I blame United and that's all I have to say on the matter.

It's now 7:30 am and I'm waiting at the gate. Sadly, I'm now going to miss a friend's thesis defence which is this morning but I'll be there by the time everyone's moved onto the party. And really, I'm far more in it for the after party than the astrophysics in any case.

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