My trip home from Redlands earlier this week began with an American Airlines flight from Ontario, CA (ONT) to Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), followed by a 90-minute layover before the second flight. I was waiting at the gate at ONT before the scheduled departure of 2:25pm, but by 2:15pm, there still was not a single airline employee in sight. I looked the flight up online and saw that there was a delay, but no announcement was ever made at the gate. This was not unlike my trip out to Redlands, where the American flight was delayed by 90 minutes without explanation or apology.
I started to get anxious; the flight was now scheduled to land 19 minutes before my next one was due to depart. It didn’t look promising. A phone call to the airlines and a visit to the gate counter indicated that (a) if I missed my connection, the only option was a flight the following morning and (b) my suitcase might make my connection or might not, but they couldn’t say.
When the flight landed at DFW with 11 minutes until my next departure, I was still foolishly hopeful. I sprinted through the terminal past 25 gates. Nobody was around when I got to my gate, but the door to the gangway was open so I ran in. The first thing I saw when I got to the end was the plane….with the cabin door already closed, which in airport land means the plane might as well already be at 35,000 feet. A rabbity little American Airlines employee was standing with his back to me as I pathetically gasped, “Is that the plane to Washington?”
Instead of answering, he demanded to know how I had gotten in. “Uh, through the door?” He was outraged, furious that I’d evidently broken some commandment by walking through an open, unattended door. By the time he and I walked back to the American counter near the door I’d so HEINOUSLY entered, we’d established that (a) he sucked tremendously as a person and (b) he was the one tasked with fixing my situation. I would rather have eaten my now-defunct boarding pass than been there with him.
He remained huffy and indignant while booking me a new flight for the next morning, offering no apologies and making the arrangements without a word about flight times or seat options. When I asked about the status of my suitcase, he became even more irritated, telling me there was no way to know where it would spend the night. “It will either go to your final destination tonight or it will not!” My one option was to go to baggage claim at DFW and wait there “for several hours” to see what might happen.
By that point, I was furious and exhausted and trying not to cry. He handed me vouchers for a hotel and $19 worth of food (which buys roughly one granola bar at the airport) and that was it. Not a single kind word or apology on behalf of the airline. I snapped. Before leaving, I snarled, “You could be a little less rude considering that it was YOUR airline that f***ed up.”
His only response was a haughty “Nice language!”
Let’s not talk about my reply.
When I first boarded the plane in Ontario heading towards DFW, I was seated next to a stately older lady. She and I chatted through takeoff and discussed the possibility that I was going to miss my connecting flight and have to spend the night in Dallas. “I had that happen to me once,” she explained, “and now I always put a clean pair of panties and a nightgown in my carry-on.” I replied that fortunately space constraints had left me with no choice but to put all of my socks and underthings in my carry-on.
After our plane landed and I unsuccessfully sprinted to catch the next one, I shuffled dejectedly out of the airport to catch the hotel shuttle. I was standing on the curb in the dark when she walked by and saw that I’d clearly missed the plane.
“That’s a shame,” she said. But then she smiled a little as she turned to walk away and whispered conspiratorially, “Clean panties!”
My boarding pass said Gate C17. I entered the airport at Terminal A, boarded the inter-terminal Sky Train, and proceeded to slowly circle the entire airport on my way to Terminal C (which oddly enough came after both B and D). After over ten minutes of riding, I used my phone to check for a flight delay. No delay…but my gate had been moved back to Terminal A. I got out at the same stop I had boarded on over fifteen minutes earlier.
Two men boarded the nearly empty plane out of DFW together. The flight attendant gestured at the row after row of empty seats and announced to them, “Sit anywhere!” The first guy filed into a row of three seats, followed a moment later by his friend. As the friend was about to sit down, the first guy exclaimed, “Dude! Get your own row! I like you, but not that much.”
While sitting on the plane waiting to take off, I started texting with my boss. She reminded me about a meeting I’d scheduled for that afternoon (when I was supposed to have arrived home the previous day), and I told her that I’d make it back on time to attend the meeting in person versus calling in. Since she knew I’d been delayed overnight without my luggage, she made a joke about me showing up in the same dirty outfit and then texted, “Send me a picture of what you’re wearing!!”
There was a time in my life where a text like that meant something so much more saucy.