Saturday, July 16, 2016

Reliving a Nightmare

June 23:    My sister, Kristina, really wanted to see Cami before her mission and offered to pay for a ticket out to visit her in California.   As cool as it sounded, Cami did not leave much open time in her schedule this summer and the only open week she had was while I was at YW camp, which meant that she was on babysitting Ellie duty for the week!  I thought it would be a deal breaker, but tickets were actually super cheap and Kristina just invited Ellie to join them as well.  

So this morning, I dropped them off at the airport, giddy and excited for their cross-country adventure together.  Some of you may remember that  THIS happened to Cami a couple of years ago.  Because of that nightmarish experience, I was definitely  a little nervous sending them off, but took heart in the fact that it wasn't wintertime, so any potential storms out there should be more quickly passing than the giant snowstorm that stranded her before.   Plus, I've never been stranded in an airport in my entire life, certainly my 18-year-old wouldn't be so unlucky as to have it happen to her again.

<sigh>  I was wrong.     <double sigh>

The trip out there turned out to be one grand misadventure after another.   First off, their original flight out of BWI got cancelled.    We called the airlines and quickly got her rescheduled on another one that left out of IAD, which is closer to home anyway,  so we didn't mind that change.   Then I dropped them off and took heart in that the flight left on time and everything seemed to be going smoothly.    Smoothly that is  until instead of calling from their scheduled layover city of Denver, they called me from Rapid City, SD.

Apparently there was a storm in Denver that prevented them from landing there, so after circling Denver for a while they flew to Rapid City before they ran out of fuel.   Rapid City.  We've been there.  It's a great little town not far from Mount Rushmore, but weirdly it is not a super happening place  and the quaint little regional airport was already closed for the day.    That meant no dinner options (the restaurant had run out of food, except for bowls of cereal and United certainly didn't even offer a snack or anything).   There were no back-up pilots nearby, so they had to be flown in from Chicago.    Basically it meant that Cami and Ellie got to wait, wait, wait, with nothing to do and nothing to eat for hours.

Eventually (after several hours there) the back-up pilots arrived and they got on their way to Denver.    They were getting into Denver about midnight (2am to my girls) and I knew there was no way they would be catching any flights to California that night.  We called United several times and were met with rude, unapologetic people who would do nothing for them.   The only thing we managed to accomplish was to get them scheduled on a flight to California at 8am the next morning.    All the nearby hotels were booked, so Cami got to spend her second night of her life on an airport floor and Ellie her first, which is still one more than me.

All the restaurants in Denver were already closed, which meant still no food, but worse than that...they were absolutely freezing.   They were dressed for summer weather, not for sleeping on cold tile.  They asked United for a blanket.  They said, "no way" and seemed more than happy to let an  18-and 11-year-old that they had stranded for many hours without food or accommodation of any kind just freeze.  #unitedcustomerservicesucks

At least they had each other though.   And I think that meant a lot to both of them.

The next morning, Cami, in her freezing, sleep deprived state-of-mind, didn't notice that they'd changed the gate of their flight out and they missed it by 5 minutes.   Eventually around noon, they finally got to take off.   All in all, it took 27-hours for them to reach their destination.  

And once again, Cami handled it with better humor and attitude than I did.   I wasn't quite as emotional as I'd been a couple of years ago, but I definitely didn't sleep much and our words for United after the ordeal was done were none too kind.   On the bright side though, they did end up getting a travel voucher out of the deal, which meant that Cami got to extend her trip a couple days and visit her "friend" in Utah.  


Rosanna said...

Such a nightmare plane ride. Hope you really laid into United. Guess our whole family will be avoiding United from now on. Hard to believe they are so hard hearted they wouldn't even lend them 2 of their cheap airline blankets for the night and give them whatever food and drink they might have on the plane. It makes me so angry. Grrr.

Jennifer McArthur said...

Yikes! Double yikes! I have no words. What complete craziness. Never should have happened. But what a bonding experience for them---what stories they'll have to tell each other's kids one day!! Brave girls!

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