Greetings readers. I have missed you the last several days and hope all of you in the Northeast have weathered the storm nicely. After three days of trying, I have finally made it back to Philadelphia on United. I will share my story in order to show that even the most seasoned frequent flyers cannot outwit the weather.
I spent the weekend in San Francisco, visiting family, friends, and most important, my younger brother who is on a long-term work assignment and has a great apartment in the heart of Pacific Heights. I flew in Thursday via Newark and Los Angeles (for upgrade purposes and the extra miles) and arrived late in the evening. The weather in Pennsylvania and New Jersey had been gray, but I had not give the storm a second thought.
Saturday I had lunch with a colleague in Palo Alto who had moved his flight up from Sunday morning to Saturday evening to get back to Philadelphia. For the first time, I pulled up a news article on the storm and saw that this Hurricane Sandy thing could be a big deal. But I had a full day planned on Sunday and was not about to go home early (and with a confirmed upgrade on an internationally configured 767-300 from SFO-EWR on Monday morning, I had another incentive to stay put).
Well, on Saturday evening United proactively started cancelling flights, including all flights to Newark on Monday. The United 1K line was overloaded—I only got the busy signal—so I had to do what I hate doing (it is like abusing a privilege that I am not entitled to) and call the Global Services desk. After 15 minutes on hold, I reached an agent who re-booked me on a redeye Sunday night to Chicago and connection to Philadelphia via Washington Dulles.
Sunday morning, I saw the Chicago-Dulles and Dulles-Philadelphia flights had been cancelled, so I called back. Nothing until Tuesday night, but the agent confirmed me in first class on the SFO-PHL redeye. That meant two additional days in San Francisco, though since my brother had to work I spent them alone. That was okay—a number of my clients were stranded and I stayed busy helping them get around the storm. I also had a last-minute RTW trip a client needed, and so that actually took most of my day.
Monday evening, I received word that my redeye on Tuesday had been cancelled. I was re-booked to a non-stop flight this morning in full Y and able to promptly confirm an auto-upgrade to business (JN) class online. I hate fighting for upgrades, so this was a nice alternative to another 20-minute phone call. United also protected me on a “back-up” flight leaving two minutes later this morning (7:58a and 8:00a), which thankfully I did not have to use.
But maybe I should have. My 737-800 today was one of the few that has not been equipped with DirecTV. So not only was there was no in-seat power, there was no IFE at all. Good thing my laptop was fully charged and I had a book to read! A pamphlet in the seat promised that both DirecTV and internet are coming by the end of 2012, so I look forward to that. Regarding onboard internet, United has procrastinated far too long.
Now that I am back in Philadelphia, I will turn around and fly home to Los Angeles tomorrow evening. Let’s hope that process is little smoother. At least the upgrade has cleared…
How did the storm affect your travels?