it all started at 4.15 am, friday jan 4. we woke up after 4 hours of sleep and went to the airport. at the gate, they said our flight was delayed because "the pilot couldn't make it on time." i guess his alarm clock was broken. so we got transferred to another flight through dallas - and we got first class! whoo-hoo! (actually we used our miles for first class tickets anyway cuz all the coach seats were gone, but the hartford-chicago leg didn't have first class available. we were just glad to get it on that leg).
the first thing anyone worries about with flight changes is luggage, but we saw it go on our plane. so everything was cool. until the dallas flight was delayed an hour to fix the air conditioning. in january. i mean, at least call it the heat. we landed at the same time our connecting flight left (because whoever re-routed us didn't leave more than an hour between flights. duh. i book my own flights and know to leave more time than that.)
that's where the trip started to go wrong. the flights to seattle from dallas were overbooked (plus they cancelled a flight, which helped loads) but we got routed through orange county, CA and ended up in seattle at the time we should have been getting our luggage in fairbanks. trying to get seats from seattle to fairbanks was a nightmare. all of a sudden, fairbanks was a happening place that everyone wanted to get to. all the flights to anchorage and fairbanks were overbooked, with standbys.
from dallas on, we tried in every airport to get seats home. our tickets were through alaska air, but the chicago-hartford leg was through american air. they got us routed through to seattle, but they don't fly to alaska. we ping-ponged back and forth between the airlines a bit, most notably in orange county where we discovered american air was responsible to get us home - or take care of us in the mean time. gina, at alaskan air, let us know that as she very cheerfully did absolutely nothing for us. all the other people we talked to spent a good amount of time clicking through options on the computer for us. but in the long run, they didn't get us any farther than seattle.
where we were very tired and getting frustrated. to go from first class to stranded was not very fun. re-telling our story to every ticket agent we talked to was getting old too. the last alaska air person we talked to was very sympathetic (and gave us meal vouchers!) but said we couldn't fly standby that night. apparently, if you want to fly standby today, you have to be booked on a flight for today. and in dallas, somehow chuck's reservation to fairbanks was cancelled, and i had 2. hmmm..........so i could have gone standby, but not chuck. (since the flight was overbooked, they couldn't just tranfer chuck's reservation back. although why they couldn't have given him my extra one we still haven't figured out yet).
yeah. it was a mess. we went out to talk to someone at the american air desk, and he did the 15-20 minute look through any possible reservations. the earliest one was in a week. a whole 7 days before there was a flight with space on it. while we had work to get back to, and no clothes. all anyone could do was shake their head and say sorry.
by that point, we were dumbfounded. american air did give us a hotel room for the night, and meal vouchers. chuck was half-seriously suggesting we buy a truck and drive home.
a night's sleep helped take the edge off our desperation. luckily for me, i had (finally) finished the second hedera in orange county.so i at least had clean socks.
after (a free) breakfast at the hotel, we walked over to the airport (does that mean i can say i've been to seattle? airports don't count to me, but this was outside) and started story time again. the american airlines desk couldn't do much, except book us tickets for thursday (we gained a whole day there!) and send us to alaska air to get on standby. we talked to a supervisor, who got us on standby (apparently that same day standby thing was bunk. arg.) the standby list was huge for all the flights, but at least we were on.
a flight to anchorage was boarding so the supervisor walked us over to cut through the lines (though it was early enough there weren't any). that fast track landed us in the special security line, with the pat down and looking through our carry ons. i showed my socks off to the security chick, who said her daughter knits too. cool.
as we got to the gate, they had finished boarding and were starting to work on the standby list. a woman there said she'd been waiting three days for an anchorage flight. *shudder* we had visions of living in the airport, languishing in standby until thursday. the woman working the desk was obviously stressed - it might have been the small standby crowd hanging on her every word, waiting for their name to fall from her lips. boarding finished, and she sent the crowd on its way to the next gate. chuck was antsy antsy while we were waiting, wanting to go ask the lady where we were on the list, but i convinced him to wait till she was done.
the crowd cleared, we went up, and before we said a word, she asked, are you on standby? then she asked for both our last names, and said follow me. we rushed behind her to the door and were on the plane - in first class no less. it happened so fast i didn't even see her name. but you, short hispanic lady with glasses working that 11.40 flight from seattle to anchorage, you were a miracle. thank you thank you thank you!
in anchorage, they had to get our flight coupons - we hadn't even had time to hand those over before we were on that flight. alaska air had us booked on a fairbanks flight leaving within a half hour, and we were home just 24 hours late - not bad compared to the week it could have been!
we ended up not even using any of those meal vouchers. home never looked so good.
one thing i decided - i am so buying one of those silly little carry on suitcases. for a change of clothes, just in case. cuz you never know when adventure might strike.