June 2, 2022
Midnight saw the warm glow that made us feel good turn to a red haze of frustration when our first flight was canceled. Dave happened to notice his phone blinking from the text from the airline – at midnight! Our first expected flight going from Portland to Newark was canceled. Due to this flight being canceled, they changed all of our flights. We were now expected to leave at the following midnight instead of at noon and we were not going to get home until June 3rd. Unfortunately, our rental car needed to be returned at 10 AM on the 2nd, our pet sitter was leaving on the 2nd, and our ride from the Buffalo airport was going to pick us up on the 2nd.
Dave spent the next 2.5 hours on the phone and soon (soon?) we had a new plan: Eugene to San Francisco, then SF to Newark, then Newark to Buffalo (on our original last flight). Heading off and getting to the airport early, we chilled at the airport while waiting for our first flight. Soon enough, the plane took off to San Francisco. Yay!! A disaster was averted……uh, oh, talk about speaking too soon. As we were landing in San Francisco we received notification that our last leg of the journey was canceled, which then meant all our flight arrangements were cancelled. Heading quickly to customer service we soon became resigned to the fact we would be flying overnight. They rebooked us going from San Francisco to Chicago and then Chicago to Buffalo, arriving the next day.
In order to avoid having to try and sleep on a plane during the red-eye flight, we asked if there was a way to get to Chicago earlier. The representative graciously gave us standby seats on an earlier flight going from SF to Chicago. This new flight, which was expected to leave at 1 pm, was delayed by three hours and the standby list had grown to 11 people. Fortunately, Dave’s status as a frequent flier and credit card holder with the airline placed us first on the list. We were told, though, that “only one seat” was available. The flight delay created another opening and we were able to get on board. The plane was filled with a group of medical professionals who were headed to Chicago for a medical conference.
Due to the delayed takeoff, the plane landed late into Chicago and many passengers had a lot of tight connections. The flight attendants began making announcements of gates for those passengers had tight connections. First on the list was a flight going from Chicago to Buffalo which was much earlier than our scheduled flight! Dave and Kathy both had the same idea and started texting each other. The passengers on the plane were gracious enough to wait until those who had tight connections got off first. We rushed to the gate for the flight leaving for Buffalo, but were told, “Sorry, only one seat left.” As we debated who would go, the guy fiddled with his computer, fiddled some more, and got bugged by the ramp agent who pressed him to get the plane moving. Finally a supervisor came by and asked what was going on. The representative explained the issue. The supervisor told us to get on the plane while he worked his magic. We ran – not walked – to get aboard where we found the “one seat available” was actually around 7 or 8 empty seats due to several people missing their connections. We were home only one hour after our originally scheduled arrival time.
So the frustrated 24 hours of red haze previously experienced gave way to the gnawing hunger in our stomachs as we realized we had not eaten for 12 hours. We were relieved that our biggest problem now was finding a place to grab some food as we headed home.
We want to give a big thank you to all of the staff at United Airlines who worked to help us get home. We muddled through multiple (six!) iterations of our flight plans, but in the end it all worked out. We got home to our kitties and our bed!!