Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How not to get started

My flight out of Boston was scheduled for 8:07am EST today, to San Francisco. It didn't happen.

Since we were about to get another Monday morning Nor'easter this morning, we rose at 3:15am to get an early start to the airport. It was just raining when we left at about 4am.

The first mistake was not calling to confirm the flight. At 3:30 in the morning it was raining and it never occurred to me that there would be a problem.

In the past, when I was traveling by air every week, it was almost always true that the early flights would get out. The planes were already at the airport, so if the destination wasn't having bad weather, the plane would go if it could take off. This was a wrong assumption in the new world of air travel.

We drove into the terminal at Logan Airport, I took out my bicycle box and bags and after the usual good-byes, Ellen headed back home, hopefully beating the snow. I walked into the terminal and up to the United counter to find that all morning flights were canceled. They didn't even bring the plane in last night.

I quickly called Ellen to find her at the toll booth entering the Ted Williams tunnel. Unfortunately, there was no way for her to turn around, so she had to go through the tunnel. Following the tool collector's directions, it lead her onto the wrong ramp and she ended up on the Mass Turnpike heading west and had to go all the way to Cambridge to turn around--and now it was snowing fiercely.

Meanwhile, I had gotten in a different line to see what could be rescheduled. The airline, United, had rescheduled me on a flight this afternoon to San Francisco. This one, however, arrived after my flight to Auckland is to depart. They had already figured this out and had me booked from San Francisco to Los Angeles, where I was now booked on the Air New Zealand flight leaving on the 16th!

At first I had a bit of trouble understanding what the agent was saying, as it made little sense. After I pointed out that I had to spend nearly two days in LA, which they weren't going to pay for, and that I had expected to fly from SFO, the agent looked around a bit more. All of the flights from SFO to Auckland were totally booked for the rest of the week, so LA was my only choice. He booked me on the 8 am flight to LA on wednesday and the LA-Auckland flight that evening.

By that point Ellen had made it back to the airport and we reloaded the bike an bags back into the car and headed home in the heavy snow.

Fours hours sleep, a 4 am, 45 minute drive in the rain, a half hour backtrack and an hour's drive in the snow and no flight out is not how to get started. At least the current forecast for Wednesday is for partly cloudy.

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