One of My Worst Trips to the West Coast

I flew from Providence, Rhode Island to San Francisco yesterday through Charlotte, North Carolina on US Air. I left my house at 10:30 am and was still in transit AND STILL ON THE EAST COAST eleven hours later. I eventually arrived at my hotel in Menlo Park at about 1:30am Pacific time, an amazing 18 hours later.

I flew from Providence to Charlotte without incident--everything went sucky in Charlotte. First, US Air reset the departure time to San Francisco several times. Eventually they decided due to brake problems that we would change both gates and planes. So an Airbus worth of passengers dutifully trudged the entire length of the airport to the new gate. After more delays, we boarded the 2nd plane. Over an hour later we were still waiting because a problem had been found in one of the fire suppression systems...a problem they apparently had trouble isolating and fixing.

Around 7:30pm Eastern, about three hours after our originally planned departure, they decided it would take at least another hour to diagnose the problem so they unloaded us and distributed $10 meal vouchers to everyone. To add to the fun, heavy rains and lightning had started so no planes were leaving in any case.

About 30 minutes later they then located a third plane for us to try---back at the original gate a the other end of the airport. So, more trudging. More waiting. We finally took off at about 9:30pm Eastern, landing at 11:45pm Pacific at SFO. I made it to my hotel sometime after 1am PT.

I opted for this indirect flight over a direct BOS->SFO flight to use up a $500 airline credit before it expired, something I thought would be good to do. It clearly ended up not being worthwhile given the amount of personal wear and tear this trip caused. Even if the delays had not occurred, it isn't clear to me that flying down the east coast for two hours and then sitting in an airport for two hours before flying cross country makes any sense at all for either me or for Sun.

I am so looking forward to my flight home. Yep, complete with another lay-over in Charlotte.


Comments:

You gotta love all those rocking chairs in Charlotte, though!

Posted by Flex Rex on May 21, 2008 at 09:39 AM EDT #

True, but in my four full traversals of the airport, I never saw an empty one to try...

Josh

Posted by Josh Simons on May 21, 2008 at 06:18 PM EDT #

Express jet tried to kill me a couple of weeks ago by getting too close to a T-Storm. If perfect is a 0 on the scale and 10 is the airplane flipped upside down, that one was about an 8.5. Later on, I changed the other end of the trip by a week, but didn't call the airline until after I'd already missed the original return flight and I was told that there was "no value left in that ticket" because I hadn't called prior to departure. The airlines suck and they are making up for it by being very inconvenient as well. Remote meetings might be the wave of the future.

Posted by bitwrangler on May 23, 2008 at 05:18 AM EDT #

Funny to see you blogged about this Josh .. unfortunately your first mistake was electing to fly "US (sc)Air", I'm actually shocked they were organized enough to find three planes let alone try and use them. Given that level of commitment and effort on their part, you being upset at having to wait a paltry 18 hours to get to SFO seems excessive ... after all they did the very \*best\* that they can do :-)

More seriously, you can't help wondering if we're reaching a tipping point for video conferencing vs. flying given the cost of jet fuel and the miserable experience at most airports today.

Still it could have been worse - you could have had to fly through Heathrow!

Posted by ashley saulsbury on May 28, 2008 at 12:26 PM EDT #

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