Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Your craziest airport story?

It's important, in journalism, to make your biases clear when you're doing a story. So in the interest of full disclosure: I hate flying.

I'm not scared of flying. I just hate everything about the experience: riding the shuttle bus, undressing at the security checkpoint, waiting at the gate, squeezing into the seats, getting that pressurized-air headache, bobbing through turbulence, sprinting to make the connection, dragging my weary butt through the concourse on the way to the rental car.

My wife and I flew last week, out to Kansas City and back. Everything went fine. If the trip had been a few days later, and we had ended up waiting five freaking hours at the kiosk, it's possible I would be on the 10 Most Wanted list by now.

Two things I noticed on the trip:

-- The sports bar in the A concourse at the Charlotte airport has six clocks out front, showing the time in different time zones. As of last Wednesday, five of the six clocks were wrong.

-- There's a display in the Kansas City airport showing items you can't bring on the plane. One of the items is a chain saw. Now, I know some people don't keep up with the latest federal regulations, but is there somebody out there who needs to be told it's not OK to bring a CHAIN SAW on the plane?

I'm trying to imagine some guy at the ticket counter, calling back home: "You won't believe this, Myrtle. They won't let me bring the dang Poulan on board. It's like we're not in America anymore."

So what's your most infuriating airport story? Vent away below.


Anonymous said...

It was this past Thanksgiving when Continental Airlines screwed up people's flights out of Charlotte Thursday morning. I ended up on a US Airways flight that got me to the airport I was laying over late, so I missed my flight home for the holiday. I was crying at the Continental ticket counter, telling them they either had to get me a ticket home at day, or fly me back to Charlotte, both of which they said were impossible. In the end, I got home, but missed Thanksgiving. That was my worst airplace experience ever.

Jessica B. said...

My worst airport story was when I went with my boyfriend at the time and his family to Seattle, WA and Canada on vacation in July - peak tourist season. My boyfriend and I had buddy passes and I had never flown before so I didn't really realize how buddy passes worked. We didn't have a problem getting to Seattle, but when we tried to leave every flight was booked and since we had the buddy passes we didn't have "real" tickets. After spending the night in the Seattle airport we finally decided to just take any flight we could both get on that was headed East. We got to either Philadelphia or Pittsburg and had to spend the night in that airport before finally getting back to Charlotte on a 6am flight. After that nightmare I swore I would never use a buddy pass again - no matter how cheap!

Anonymous said...

In 1999, I was working in Dodge City, KS (really!) and had flown home to NY for a long weekend. My return flight out of NY was delayed due to weather, so I missed my connection to Dodge City. This led me to spend NINE -9- hours in the Kansas City airport. It was literally the longest nine hours of my life; there was nothing to do in the airport, just a Burger King and a newsstand. Not fun.

Anonymous said...

My husband had spent weeks planning a ski trip/family reunion to Utah. Before our flight left Charlotte the kids and I left the boarding area to walk down to Burger King to get some cini-minis. The line was pretty long, but we got our sweets and started walking back to the boarding area. I will never forget the look on my husband's face as he sat in the empty boarding area all alone, with the plane still on the runway, but the doors closed to our family, we were too late. Even though we begged them to let us in. We ended up getting a later flight out to St. Louis and had to go stand-by to Salt Lake City, as we waited for our flight, I made friends with lots of the other people waiting and told them of our plight. When the overbooked plane started boarding, we had our fingers crossed that we would make it onto the plane as the rest of our extended family was already waiting for us in Utah. Sure enough, we were called and when our family boarded the plane, the entire plane started clapping for us. It's kind of funny too, my husband probably spent a couple thousand on this trip and I spent under ten dollars on the cini-minis, but what do we remember most? We call this our cini-mini vacation.

Anonymous said...

Okay , I was at Charlotte Douglas airport at 7:00 something n the morning and dropped off my party. As I left the airport I came up to the Parking office where you get your ticket calculated and no one was in any of the boxes. Me and the [erson behind me started driving frantic around the whole airport trying to escape. We then drove down a one way street going the wrong way to escape the airport, I was really scared.

Anonymous said...

My worst airport story was when I had to just throw away my best multi-tool (actually it was a combination chainsaw and flamethrower) at the security checkpoint... I tried to take it apart and fit it into those little Zip-loc bags they give you for shampoo and gels now, but I kept dropping the nuts and bolts and the grease was everywhere... If only I'd had some sort of warning ahead of time...

Anonymous said...

Those of us who travel for a living all have tales I am sure. Mine happened some years ago when I lived in New England at the time and had spent a week in Ft. Myers. My girlfriend and I arrived at Regional Southwest airport in plenty of time for the flight home to Providence, RI with a change of planes in Charlotte.

The flight from RSW to CLT was overbooked and US Air asked for volunteers. What the heck, we took them up on the offer and we both got free passes for a year. Great...we head to Charlotte a few hours later than anticipated with promises of no problems getting back to PVD.

But once more the flight out to PVD was overbooked and once more volunteers were needed. Hey..why not? And once more we were proud owners of two more free passes on US Air.

So we had a leisurely lunch at the airport and were to board the 3:00 PM flight to Providence. Ooops Oversold once more...No problem, next flight we were told.

Next flight...same thing. And the next...now it's 9:00 PM or so.

The last flight out to PVD of the day they have one seat available. I put her on the plane headed for home and I am in Charlotte for what may be the night.

But...US Air can get me to Boston and they will shuttle me back to PVD to pick-up my car. So about 11:00 PM we taked off for Boston, arriving about 12:30 AM. Sure enough there is a limo there waiting for me and the drive to PVD took about an hour. I end up getting home about 2:15AM after getting up about 4:00 the day before.

Since then, I have never volunteered to give up a seat again for a free flight. And yes I know it could have all been avoided, but what a good lesson I learned that very long day.

Anonymous said...

My favorite airport story (not a fun one but it worked out well) was for a trip I had planned for six months to the BVI with my wife. We showed up at the airport an hour early, waited in line... and were informed that we had cancelled our reservations two days earler.

I looked back at the woman and asked, "Do we LOOK like we cancelled our reservations?" I was then told that they were sorry, but the flight was booked and they had no seats left. I informed THEM that they were actually overbooked by two seats, because we had two. I refused to step aside. The manager then worked his magic and got us boarding passes ... but we had to go through the SAME thing at every stop along the way (Miami, San Juan?, ...)

Oh and by the way, I was not surprised during the boarding process to hear someone else being paged - with my name - to come to the desk because their seat was going to be given away... (someone with the same name had cancelled their reservation, and they didn't check the confirmation number!)

My least favorite was getting laid over in Vegas with my two kids for 16 hours. They kept delaying the flight departure - 11pm, 12pm, 1am, 2am, 3am.... then told us it was going to be tomorrow morning at 9am, and to come back by 7am. Oh, and they gave us a voucher for $40 off of a room, how generous of them. Like I'm going to a hotel room for 2 hours and PAY for it? Nice....

We took off at 2pm the next afternoon.