4/19/2009 3:40 AM
It’s late Friday evening before NAB and write this note to you from my hotel room in Las Vegas. I made it here, but not without issues.
I’ve decided the convention gods are telling me I’m not supposed to go to the show and the stars aligned against me.
Late yesterday United Airlines cancelled my flight to Denver. Orbitz sent me an email about 4pm yesterday, so I had some warning. Being of technical mind, I proceeded to break the problem down into steps and results.
Step 1: Contact United Airlines, see if they will rebook my flight. After all, they cancelled the original flight.
Result: Sorry, “You purchased your ticket from another vendor”. Take up your problem with them. Have a nice day. Now go away. Not our problem
Step2: Call Orbitz.
Result: I dare you to find a phone number on the Orbitz website that can be used to address rebooking situations. There is no phone number. But, you can leave an email.
So, looks like I’m just going to have to buy a second airline ticket to Denver after I send them a detailed email with all booking/confirmation numbers and ask for a refund.
Step 3. Scan the available flights to Denver that would still connect to the Las Vegas leg of my previously-purchased ticket.
Result: Okay, there are still three seats available for an earlier United flight to Denver. Only problem is I’ll have to get up at 4am. ARRRRRRG!
Step 4: Purchase one-leg flight to Denver. Last-minute bookings are costly. This flight costs one-half of the previously-purchased entire flight.
Result: About 5am Friday morning I spy an email from Orbitz, maybe I’ll be getting a refund for the cancelled United flight after all.
Orbitz reply. “Thank you for your note”. “We are unable to determine your specific need.” “You will need to contact our service department at 888 656-4546”. I haven’t yet called for the refund, I’ll let you know how it works out.
However, I’m publishing this Orbitz customer service number in case you ever need to talk to a real person at Orbitz. Trust me, you’ll never find it on their web site.
Step 5, Get up at 4am, get to airport by 5:30am. Coffee…..lots of coffee.
7:00am. While waiting in the gate area, “Attention please, for those passengers with tickets to Denver, we’ve just been notified that there is a problem with the airplane’s APU. With the weather in Denver, we can’t fly the plane into Denver without that working properly. Mechanics are working with the pilot to see if it can be fixed. What the heck is an APU anyway? Sounds like they could fly without it as long as we weren’t going to Denver. I’m game, let’s just GO.
I walk over to the window, sure enough, They’ve got the Snap-On tool truck out there with three guys all scratching their heads. This doesn’t look good.
9:00 comes. “Attention in the passenger area. The mechanic is on the phone with San Jose trying to see what can be done. We’ll keep you posted.
I’ll bet United’s Help Desk is like every other help desk you’ve called. After they answer, you hear, “So, what’d you break this time?” Besides, aren’t you always told that the problem is “pilot error”.
9:15 Announcement, “Well folks the captain has announced the APU can’t be fixed. Seems he needs a ¾-left-handed do-hicky and the WalMart store is totally out of stock.”
“However, what’ we’re gonna try and do is take this here Chicago-arriving flight and see if the crew is willing to staff that plane to Denver.”
“Don’t worry; about connections, we’d do all we can to help you make them”.
Karma tells me to not go. I’m not supposed to go to this show.
However, by 10:30, I’m winging my way to Denver in the third of three planes that were supposed to get me there. While I got up at 4am for a 7am flight, I’ll actually get to Denver about the same time I would have on the original flight. Things are looking up!
After a delightful lunch at the Denver PF Chang's, I mosey over to a quiet gate with a power outlet and begin working again on the PC about 90 minutes of computer time, I pack up things and head for my gate.
Just in time, they announce my boarding group and I’m off on the second leg of my trip to Las Vegas.
Just as I’m putting my computer bag in the overhead storage, something doesn’t feel right. What’s wrong? I pick up my rolling computer bag. It’s too light. I’m now on the plane, but I franticly search through the computer bag for my----computer. It’s not there!
I must have knocked over a dozen people as I struggled against the stream of humanity to get off the plane to try and find my computer. I must have left it at the other gate.
The gate agent lets me off, but takes my boarding pass as I run at line-backer speed towards where I “think” I was working. You see…I’m not sure and all the gates look the same. I start at B25, then B23, B21…..I’m running through the airport looking at all the odd-numbered gates.
Finally, I reach B17.
There, setting on a chair is my computer. You can imagine my relief. I had visions of trying to explain to the help desk how I ‘forgot’ my computer at the Denver airport. That wouldn’t be a good career move.
Armed with my PC, I spin around and am running back to my airplane’s gate. Arriving just as they are starting to close the door…..the gate agent kindly asks, “Did you find your computer?” “Yes thank you,” I reply.
I walk onto a now fully loaded plane and take the last open seat in the last row, next to the window. I don’t care, I’ve got the computer.
The events from this point on are fairly routine. I’m violently whipped around by turbulence and because I’m riding the tail, the vector motion is ten times that experienced by the passengers sitting over the wing. In fact, no beverages are served because the pilot won’t let the cabin attendants out of their seats.
But you know what? I’m almost to LV and things will get better.
I hope. Stay tuned.