Saturday, August 06, 2005


Flight from Hell

Atlanta to Chicago in 8 Hours

Sorry for the lack of postings. I was up in Chicago giving a speech at the ABA conference. It was fun, but alas I was only in town overnight. Way to short, and the WiFi at the hotel wasn't working right. Anyway, my flight to Chicago sucked, big time.

I probably got what I deserved, I decided to fly to Chicago on Delta (via Atlanta) to get some more miles. I'm Silver Elite on Delta, so every mile I fly I get bonus miles and by the end of the year I should have enough for a nice business class upgrade to Europe of something. My flight left DC at 7 AM, I was to connect in Atlanta and arrive in Chicago at 11:41 AM. I had some networking meetings planned for the afternoon, and cocktails scheduled with some attorneys I've become friends with through my work with the ABA.

The flight from DC left on time, and we arrive in Atlanta on schedule. The flight is full, so no free upgrade for me, but I'm very comfortable ensconced in a roomy exit row seat. Since it's only about 9:00 am, and I'll arrive in Chicago at noon, I decided to get something to eat when I arrive rather than carry on some bland airport food.

In Atlanta I work my way from gate E-31 (The end of the concourse) to B-3 (also at the far end of the concourse). I sit down and do some work, the flight is supposed to depart at 10:10 am, and it's already 10am. At 10:10 AM they announce that there is a problem with the plane, and a new plane is waiting for us at gate A-3. So we all trundle off to the subway thing and work our way down to A-3. At the gate, we board the plane. I again have a nice exit row seat.

We sit on the plane for some time. At about 11:10 am the pilot gets on the PA and tells us that due to storms between Atlanta and Chicago, we'll have to fly around them, so they need to put more fuel on the plane. This takes about an hour. After the fuel is finally on the plane the pilot again gets on the PA to tell us, that we don't need the extra fuel after all, and we'll have to take it off before we leave. Another hour wasted. It's now sometime after noon. The extra fuel is taken off the plane and we finally taxi out to the runway. As our turn to take off approaches, the plane suddenly does a quick u-turn and we pull off to a remote corner of the runway.

The pilot, now a bit sheepish, gets on the PA again and announces that there is something wrong with a sensor on the wing. We head back to the gate to get it fixed. He does announce that due to the long delays, all drinks will be free. I shout, "But beverages are free anyway!". (It turns out he meant beers and such would be free). Anyway, back to the gate. We've now been on the plane well over three hours. There is nothing on the plane but snacks and the flight attendants start distributing them to help avoid a mutiny.

The mechanics can't fix the sensor problem, which means that the co-pilot will have to manually make sure the flaps are in position to take off. (He does this by looking out the windows near my seat). The pilot does announce that the storms have reformed and we will have to load more fuel as we'll have to detour over Kansas City to get to Chicago, which means our flight to Chicago, which should have taken an hour and a half, will no take two and half hours.

We finally take off, and two and a half hours later, arrive in Chicago. I miss my networking meetings as well as the cocktail party. My flight to Chicago has taken 7 or so hours. But at least I arrived in time for dinner.

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