Monday, March 31, 2008

Delays and more!

This last Friday I was scheduled to fly from Spokane to Seattle as the first leg in a trip back to LA.  The work week had gone pretty well, and it was finally time to relax.

I got there about 2.5 hours early so as to be sure to get through security in time.  Thirty eight seconds later I was at my gate seeing if I could instead board an earlier flight.

Certainly not, as they were all full.  Actually, every flight was oversold by 15 people (I think this is either some legal maximum or corporate policy) and they had chosen to cancel an earlier flight already.  Perhaps that one was only filled to 99% capacity or something.

Anyhow, I was given a standby seat on a flight out of Seattle the next day since there was a slight chance that I would miss the connection - my flight was actually running an hour late.  But it had not yet left Seattle.  At this point I inquired as to the distance we were from Los Angeles (my intended final destination).  970 miles and 24 hours (that doesn't match up as far as I can tell, but hey that's what they said).  I elected to wait out the flights.

It finally showed up around 4 hours late, and we boarded as soon as possible.  Obviously we had missed a takeoff window so they made us get new "paperwork."  I'm so happy that the FTA works so hard to bog airlines down in paperwork so that I can feel oh so safe.  Thank you TSA as well for spending 5 minutes to rummage through my luggage every time I go through security.  I did not realize that I was the only person in the world who uses USB hard drives.

Anyhow, we got on the plane, got the paperwork, and pushed back.

While all of this was happening I made plans to meet up with a buddy who lives in Seattle that I hadn't seen in a long time, so at this point I sent him a text message that said we were pushing back.  Thirty five minutes or so later I sent another text to him:  "False alarm, the plane broke."

Back into the airport we were directed, and I took the opportunity to relieve myself of a few Courics.  My stomach was going nuts, but they quickly herded us on to another plane that wasn't being used at the time.  After waiting for our luggage to get placed onto the new plane, we sat around for 10 minutes for new paperwork (and also for a flight to make an on-time departure to the same destination that we were 7+ hours late to).

We pushed back so they could begin de-icing the plane, and I sent another text to my buddy saying that we were now on a new plane and were in the process of finally leaving.  Thirty five minutes later I admitted that I had cried wolf once more.  There was some sort of caution light relating to the de-icing.  Fantastic.

Anyhow, about an hour or so later we finally took off and completed the 48 minute flight that took 8 hours to start.

I have flown Alaska Airlines twice in my life.  Once was to go to Alaska.  That experience was capped by them saying that I had to check my bag "normally" instead of that door to door way they do it for the usual puddle jumps.  They obviously lost my bags and I had nothing in the way of warm clothes when I got off the plane and it was 20 below.  The primary reason I don't check bags is because I seem to have a 5% loss rate, and I can't afford that.

This is my second experience with them, and they boldly wasted an entire day of my life.  I would now be in LA had I drove instead of waiting, and I would actually have made my original connection if I'd driven from Spokane to Seattle when I first found out about it.

And 26 hours after starting off on 4 hours worth of flights I arrived about 50 miles from my intended destination.  Excellence in travel, thy name is Alaska Airlines.  In all seriousness, I'm just happy the plane didn't somehow break while we were in the air.  I'm typically happy as long as get to where I'm going in one piece.  This was just a pretty ridiculous set of circumstances that I got to be a part of.

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