Thursday, August 27, 2009

15 Hours from Toronto to Charleston? Flying not Driving!

How can I travel all the way to Asia in July and have no issues with flights or luggage or anything, and then travel from Toronto to Charleston SC, and have more troubles than I have had in I don't know how long.

Hmmm... well here is the story.

My father and I were travelling from Toronto to Charleston SC. We were booked on a 10 am flight to Washington connecting to Charleston and arriving at 2:30 pm. United Airlines overbooked the flight to Washington.

They asked us to go to Chicago then to Charleston. They offered a $400 credit each and I asked for an upgrade to Business class (always negotiate - you never know what you can get when the airline messes up)

We arrive in Chicago with a 2 hour layover. We have a nice lunch at the bar, and then sit in the Business lounge. We check the board and our Chicago to Charleston flight is delayed. No worries - we have to be in Charleston for 7 pm. We should still make it on time.

We board the tiny United Express plane and sit there for 40 min with the door open. It is really hot, but can't close the door as apparently the anti-static strips are missing on the aircraft. That isn't good if we hit any type of electricity in the air - like lightening. And it's going to take 13 hours to fix it.

I run off the plane to the Red Carpet Lounge to book another flight. We get on a flight to Charlotte with a connection to Charleston. But we won't be there until 9 pm or so. And most likely without our checked luggage (I know before you remind me I should only take checked luggage - it wasn't possible on this trip for a variety of reasons).

So we have to make a claim with US airways as they transported us from Charlotte to Charleston. Even though it was United that lost our bags.

We walked wearily over to the taxi stand. We explained our situation to the taxi driver as he asked for our bags to put in the back. He was awesome and offered to stop at Walmart on our way to the hotel to get a few necessities - for no extra charge.

I left my house at 7 am that day. We arrived at the hotel at 10 pm, tired and we had missed our event at 7 pm. It took 15 hours from door to door. We could have driven in that time I think.

I have never taken so long to get somewhere so close....One note though, everyone we dealt with were quite nice. They were sympathetic and wanted to help.

My dad and I started our seminar out in the same clothes that we traveled in. It wasn't pretty :-(

Our take on the situation - Airlines are overbooking flights to be more "efficient" and cost cutting, and dealing with the consequences after the fact. If you ask me this is a poor business model.

It seems to be happening everywhere. All I posted on Facebook was "United Airlines suck" and I started a debate with others about US airlines. Hmmmm maybe it is time for the airlines to wake up and take a page out of other country's airlines. They don't seem to have the same issues overseas....

I think I will choose to travel internationally from now on. Well if I can.....

1 comment:

The Dude said...

No worries... in overseas the planes get also overbooked. :)
But how much overbooked I can't tell you. I could imagine that they go a bit softlier, but I guess it depends on the airline. I could guess that Ryan Air would be top at overbooking.

But just not to forget, that this is also why, the tickets are that cheap. Otherwise there would be higher fees for rebooking or canceling a flight.

Enjoy flying

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