After working all week in Natchitoches, Louisiana, I drove up to Shreveport last night and stayed at the Homewood Suites near the airport. It was a quick stay as I checked in at 9pm, and left the hotel at 6:45am for my 8am American Airlines flight to Dallas.
I would have been on 4 different flights today, but as luck (or Murphy’s Law) would have it, I only was on three. My flights were:
Shreveport, LA to DFW on American Airlines: Embraer 145 commuter jet 3A (all coach)
DFW to Orlando, FL on American Airlines: Boeing 737 First Class 5B
Orlando to Phoenix, AZ on USAirways: Airbus 321 First Class 2A (Dos) and 2C (Uno)
I had good and uneventful flights from Shreveport to DFW,and then DFW to Orlando. Since this was Labor Day weekend, Dos and I had previously booked flights to Sacramento to visit Napa Valley over the holiday weekend. My trip to Louisiana was for business, so when I got back to Orlando, Dos was waiting for me with our ‘Napa’ luggage to check in for Sacramento. I literally got off the plane in Orlando, met Dos, and then checked backed in with him, this time on USAirways to Phoenix, and ultimately on to Sacramento. As we had a couple hours until the scheduled 5:40pm flight, we got a bite to eat at Ruby Tuesday’s in Terminal B-side before going to our gate 58.
Of course it’s still summer storm season in Florida, and late afternoon/evening is not the time to fly in or out of Orlando, but sometimes with work schedules you don’t have a choice.enough. As luck would have it, a huge storm blow thru around 4pm, which created havoc for everyone flying out of MCO. I felt bad for the airline workers as they were very stressed from the delays and lack of information as well as control. Incoming planes were not able to park at the gates as they were all full, and some planes such as our’s from Phoenix sat for over 2 hours (full of passengers) on the tarmac as a result. When the inbound flight from Phoenix (which is the same plane we were taking to PHX) finally parked at gate 54, every passenger coming off the plane had the same look of ‘AHHHHH” we’re finally off the plane, some more vocal than others! I wrote USAirways a short email thanking the staff at MCO, (especially Diane) who really did an outstanding job remaining patient and keeping the passengers calm in a very trying situation that was totally out of their control.
We, and everyone else on our flight missed their connections out of Phoenix when we finally left at 8pm, but fortunately Diane had told everyone this ahead of time, so we could plan accordingly to spend the night in Phoenix instead of Sacramento, and I called and rebooked our Phoenix to Sacramento flight for Saturday morning instead.
In the end, it actually worked out for the better, even though it was a long wait in the Orlando airport. By overnighting in Phoenix, our luggage will be checked on to Sacramento for tomorrow, and fortunately DOS brought a new Tumi carry-on bag with a change of clothes for both of us, as we wouldn’t get our luggage tonight.
A few Travel Tips:
1. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS check in-online with the airline, preferably at the 24 hour mark. On my first flight from Shreveport to DFW, the flight was oversold by one, and no one would give up their seat so an elderly couple was almost bumped off because of this. Actually only one of
the two people were being bumped, so the husband and wife would have been separated for at
least a day due to the full holiday weekend schedule of flights. Fortunately one lady
reluctantly volunteered for a later flight as she felt bad for them, and the couple made it.
They were lucky; many times people don’t volunteer even with $$$ vouchers as the flights
are always full, and you face a delay of hours if not days during a holiday or inclement
weather delay if you give up your seat.
2. If possible, bring a carry-on bag with an overnight change of clothes and toiletries, in
case your luggage is lost or you get stuck overnight at your connection point like we did.
3. If your flight is delayed where you won’t make your connection, call the airline immediately
even while standing in line to be re-booked (if there is a long line) and see what alternate
arrangements can be made over the phone. If the line speeds up, then the airport staff can
help, but don’t count on them as the seats will quickly disappear when there are delays.
4. If you will be stranded somewhere overnight, call and cancel your original hotel, and change
the rental car if applicable. Even if it’s after the 6pm or 24 hour cancel period, most
hotels will let you cancel if it’s a travel irregularity if you call them directly and explain.
5. If it’s a weather delay, the airline will not pay for your hotel or incidentals, however they
will give you a reduced travel voucher if you ask, although we booked the Hilton directly
while on our flight due to location we wanted and convenience of not waiting in line for
a voucher. If you are stuck overnight, your luggage will be sent on the next day to your
destination, and will NOT be retrievable in your stranded city. (see tip 2.)
So we spent the night at the Hilton Phoenix Airport, which was a nice surprise. We got upgraded to the club level floor, which had a balcony overlooking the pool. It was nice sitting outside even at this late hour relaxing a bit after the long day. As the Executive lounge was closed on weekends, they gave us two coupons for appetizers and non-alcoholic drink in the lounge. We had chicken quesadilla appetizers and a brewski for me and water for Dos. It was a long travel day for me: 7am – 10pm PST (1am back home), but the unexpected stopover in Phoenix turned out to be a good thing. Tomorrow we fly to Sacramento and drive to Napa Valley.