Monday, February 26, 2007

I'm stranded .... on a jet plane

At least I didn't fly jet blue.

Getting back from Mongolia took a few more hours than the planned 24. I flew Mongolian's MIAT airline from UlaanBator to Beijing and United to O'Hare 5 hours later. I cleared customs and had 75 minutes to connect to my flight to Orlando; the people in line to check in for domestic flights filled the hall.

I was trying to hop onto an AirCanada flight to Toronto, but the agent was - I regret to say "the usual AirCanada type" - and uninspired to be much help offering only - "I doubt there are any seats left" - How's that for specific, timely, useful information?!

So I jumped the United line, while listening to the announcement: "We recommend you go home if you can, all flights after 7:00 pm are cancelled". Aha! My flight to Orlando was scheduled for 5:45 pm - still hope! I already had a boarding pass, and bags tagged to Orlando, so just dumped my bags onto the conveyor belt and headed to the gate.

The crew was there, the coming ice storm had not yet arrived, the plane was there and ... no gate agent to let anyone in!

The agent arrived and the crew boarded at 5:15 and we waited, seeing a delay until 6:00 posted, then we boarded ... and waited

A series of fortunate and unfortunate events then transpired including:

Then it was pretty much good. We got de-iced and assured that "safety first" was still the policy in effect, we landed before 4 a.m. in Orlando and I slept at the airport before heading to Toronto on a 7:30 a.m. flight (which took off at 8:30)

All in all United Airlines crew did a great job of keeping us informed and kept a courteous and cheerful attitude through our 6 hour runway sit, though they seemed to be getting sparse and innacurate info all through the evening.

check back and I'll post the link to a short video of the de-icing in case you have never seen that ...

Wait, let me get this straight. Beijing, Chicago, Orlando, Toronto. Okay, I got it now. True hash fashion with false trails and checkpoints. Got it! Welcome to the States!

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