Please welcome Cynthia D'Alba, award winning author. Cyndi will make you laugh with her example of Murphey's Law of Air Travel!

First - Major thanks to Mary for asking me to blog with y’all. I am excited and thrilled to be here.

Next – Major thanks to Maureen Child. When I told her I would be blogging here and wanted to give away a couple of her books to back bloggers, she insisted on sending them to me, rather than me dipping into my personal Maureen Child stash. So, a huge thank you to a very special lady. You’re a gem!

Lately, the airline industry has been in the news. High ticket prices. Required payments to check a bag, even the first one with some airlines. Broken down luggage sorting systems. Passengers held hostage on the tarmac. Late arrivals. Late departures.

Flying has lost its luster, at least for my husband and me. We rarely fly these days, opting for motor home travel instead. But sometimes the distance and the time for travel require that I fly. Thus the predicament I found myself in the last time I flew for a week long writers’ workshop. It was not the dream experience advertised.

I was traveling on frequent flier miles, another scheduling nightmare these days. When I booked my flight, I entered my departure date as February 28 and my return date as March 5. The website system took it easily. That should have been my first clue. Historically, redeeming frequent flier miles has never been easy. I figured it was a sign from the heavens that this trip was meant to be.

The night before I was to leave, I did the “last minute check all your reservations” dance that all travelers do. Looking back, I probably should have done it a month earlier but hindsight is 20/20. My departure date and time was exactly what I requested (February 28th). Then I noticed that the return was NOT on March 5th (as I had entered into the ticket request) but on March 7th…a full two days after the end of the retreat and condo reservations.

Not panicking (yet) and definitely not telling the husband (yet), I placed a phone call to American Airlines Aadvantage desk. (Remember, this is frequent flier miles so I have to go there for help.) “Tammy” at the Aadvantage desk was ever so nice as she crushed my hopes of getting on a Sunday flight home. First, there was only one flight out that day (7:30 a.m.), and second, there were no frequent flyer mile seats on the flight. And there were no seats that could be bought. Plane was full.

I asked about Monday. I figured I could kill a day. Once again, Tammy had to tell me how sorry she was. While she was happy to report that there were flights out of Savannah, none of them had frequent flier seats left. If I wanted to buy a one-way ticket home on Monday, it would cost $582. I think that included tax, but no matter. Couldn’t do it. I asked her about just redoing the whole trip, putting my miles back in the bank and buying a round-trip ticket. Good news finally! She could do that.

”Let’s see,’ Tammy says as I hear her typing away on her computer, “it will cost you $100 to re-bank the miles for later use and, um…$1260 for a roundtrip ticket.”
I gasped. I don’t think my first car cost $1260! So, thank you Tammy, but no thanks.

I went to all the advertised hotel sites and started checking hotel rooms for Sunday and Monday nights. Days Inn had a room for $49 a night…somewhat better than the option Aadvantage-Desk-Tammy could offer me, so I booked a room. My plan was to stay over on Sunday and throw myself on the mercy of the American Airline desk on Monday morning to see if someone there would rebook me home. More on that later.

If you’ve flown using FF miles, you know the airlines will give you the worst flights known to man. When I booked, the flight out of Little Rock was scheduled to leave at 4:50 p.m. and arrive in Savannah at 10:10 p.m. But, I rousted the husband out of bed at 6 a.m., told him to get dressed and drive me to the airport. There were two earlier flights out of Little Rock that would get me to Savannah by 4:30 p.m. instead of 10:10 p.m. A really nice guy named Nathan put me on stand-by for the 9:38 a.m. flight and on stand-by in Dallas for 1:05 p.m. flight. It worked! I would get in early. Finally, something was going right.

But wait…there’s more.

The 9:38 a.m. flight from Little Rock left 45 minutes late because the plane was late arriving. That was fine with my schedule. The flight from Little Rock to Dallas is only about 60 minutes. It’d get me to Dallas in plenty of time to get on a 1 p.m. plane, even stand-by.

First leg (Little Rock to Dallas) – no problem. Nathan even assigned me a first row seat. By the way, for those of you who fly out of large airports and have never experienced a small regional one, Nathan checked me in at the reservations desk, then ran up to the departure gate to do the ticket collections. Little Rock is a small cozy airport.

I arrived in Dallas, no worse for the wear and excited to be getting to Savannah early. I went to gate B12 as instructed. After sitting there for about 30 minutes, the gate attendant announced that the flight to Savannah had been moved to gate B-9. So a horde of luggage-wheeling passengers rose in mass and headed down the terminal. Being a good stand-by, I found a seat near the desk so I could hear my name called for a seat. (Optimistic, wasn’t I?) Finally, the overhead speaker blared my name and I hustled to the desk. Yes! I had a seat on this early flight…Seat 18…last row. Didn’t care. I’m on.

Stay with me…there’s more.

Come back tomorrow for more details and laughs and another book giveaway!

Comment and maybe you'll win a free book!

20 comments

  1. sshay // August 7, 2008 at 9:47 AM  

    Flying is wonderful, isn't it?
    My nephew has MS and sees a doc in Dallas for it. He booked a flight on Southwest to see the guy, but (of course) snafu!
    Because of some problem in Big D, they kept them on the tarmac in Tulsa for hours and hours, then flew them to Dallas . . . just in time for him to get on his scheduled flight back.
    Missed that appointment completely.

    Susan

  2. Keri Ford // August 7, 2008 at 10:16 AM  

    I remember being really young and flying (really young meaning my biggest trouble was probably learning to buckle my belt). It was the coolest thing ever! I was on a plane! Who-hoo! Look at me, I'm on a plane!

    I don't recall anymore of those awesome flights happening since.

  3. Arkansas Cyndi // August 7, 2008 at 10:20 AM  

    Sadly, this story is only ONE of the MANY MANY MANY flight horror stories in my repertoire of personal tales.

    Of course, I never meet any stars or hunky men, or famous people. I get the fat sweaty guys! LOL

    Thanks Susan and Keri for dropping by

  4. magolla // August 7, 2008 at 10:37 AM  

    Ya know, I was going to comment, but now I'm afraid I'll jinx my flight to WDW!
    So this is a comment about how I'm not commenting. . .
    :-(
    Margaret

  5. Shada_Royce // August 7, 2008 at 10:46 AM  

    Have one for you - one my way to Atlanta in June, I got stuck on the back seat by the bathroom - FUN! Then I had to sit next to a guy who SWORE he was entering the army - but he was CREEPY: first thing he did was act like he was shooting a gun and he made this rat-a-tat-tat sound then said that was what he'd do when he shot an Iraqi! THEN - he called out cloud shapes the entire trip as he acted like he was playing the drums on his legs and flipping an unlit cigarette in and out of his mouth.

    Next, here comes the ummm...'sweet' male flight attentdant to regail us with tales of being called to the bathroom by men...oh and the story of HIS short stay in the military.

    Seriously, you can't make stuff like this up. All you need is an asian guy and you have a good joke - oh wait, he was there too - sigh...

    Great blog, I'll be back tomorrow!

  6. Stacey Pagan // August 7, 2008 at 11:32 AM  

    Good Lord! Here I took my first flight this past July and not one single hitch (outside of the return flight being delayed 20 mins). What a horror story! Makes me leary of using miles, if I ever had them:)

    Great blog! :)

  7. nancy m // August 7, 2008 at 11:39 AM  

    Already I'm wondering if your best option was driving home, Cyndi. Hey, at least you'd see some scenery while fuming!

  8. Sandi S. // August 7, 2008 at 12:08 PM  

    My only complaint with flying was in Atlanta when we sat on the tarmac for two hours after midnight waiting on someone else's plane to arrive. Of course, I don't fly much!

  9. Nightingale // August 7, 2008 at 1:24 PM  

    The nightmares of flying! I know it wasn't funny but it was humorous the way you told it. I'm glad I'm driving 1600 miles to SC at the end of this month!

  10. Donnell // August 7, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

    Cyndi, you have just proven two of my theories: one you can't get there from here, and two it has *something* to do with the Dallas airport. These practical jokers delight in moving gates. It's part of their Texas charm to have passengers looking at one another and saying -- what gate, that gate?...Case in point: my flying story involves Dallas ;) I decided to attend Duel on the Delta in Memphis and away I went, Suzanne Brockman's category *Disney* Seals as she calls them in hand. During my layover I was reading this book and was laughing hysterically and must've missed the call that they'd switched gates. I missed the flight (thanks Suzanne) and ended up getting into Memphis near midnight. But since that time anytime I'm in Dallas I pay strict attention because imo the powers that be there move passengers around like pieces on a chess set! ;)

    Mary I love the look of the Pink Fuzzy Slippers. Awesome!

  11. Mary // August 7, 2008 at 2:13 PM  

    I recovered well from the drunk and disorderly roofers on a flight from Tenn. one year -- they make a good story now. I even got over the long 15 minutes with a guy so negative that a passenger seated behind us caught up to me to say, "I'm sure you are a wonderful teacher," and make me feel better.
    However, the flight back from Hawaii last year, packed so tight that the only way to stand up was to scale the reclined seat in front of me, has taken away all desire to fly. I'm not saying "never," but it's going to take strong inducements. My niece kept quoting a movie line, "How much to sit in the coccoon?" Flying used to be so wonderful! (now I prefer to stay home and read -- free book anyone?)

  12. Arkansas Cyndi // August 7, 2008 at 3:33 PM  

    I have an friend who flies with "an unnamed airlines" and the stories she can tell! One of them involves a woman sneaking a PET SQUIRREL onto the plane in a fanny pack. I kid you not. She let the squirrel out of the fanny pack during the flight and let it ride wrapped around her neck! It wasn't until they were landing and the squirrel ran down the women's chest and back into her pack that Tara saw it. Tara said the guy riding in the side next to women (with the pet) had acted strange all the flight. Tara thought there was something wrong with the man. Turns out, he was freaked out by the squirrel. LOL

  13. Liz L. // August 7, 2008 at 3:50 PM  

    I hate FF miles. This summer we went to Europe on Delta. We flew from Dallas to Atlanta/changed planes and flew to Miami/changed planes and flew to Paris/changed planes and flew to Barcelona. Coming back, we flew from Paris nonstop to Seattle, but then we had a 12 hour layover and flew the red eye home. The worst part was that since the layover was twelve hours, we had to claim our luggage and recheck it. But wait!! You are only allowed to check luggage in two hours before a flight. Sheesh!! I have a feeling this happens often in Seattle as they had a special place to store our baggage until we could check it in - at a price, of course!

    From now on, I'm paying to get somewhere.

    Love this blog, Cyndi.

    And Donnell, I agree, DFW is the worst airport around for changing gates, but it's usually only American who does it. One time I checked to see what gate I would be flying out of that morning, and by the time I got to the airport 45minutes later, it had changed.

    What are you gonna do? I hate driving in a car. Cyndi's got it right, traveling in a motor home with a real toilet and a bed, but oh the gas mileage!!

  14. Sandi // August 7, 2008 at 4:30 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  15. Sandi // August 7, 2008 at 4:31 PM  

    What a fun blog, Cyndi! I've only flown a handful of times, but I don't mind it. The only time I was actually uncomfortable was when I flew to the airport in St. Thomas, USVI. The island is absolutely beautiful, but in order to land there, the plane had to do a u-turn in mid-air. And I kid you not, we made a complete turn just before descending! The airstrip butted into the side of a mountain which looked almost exactly like the place where they filmed Jurassic Park. My knees were trembling when we finally disembarked. I can understand why rum is such a popular export item in the airport there!

  16. Mary Ricksen // August 7, 2008 at 5:06 PM  

    Oh for the old propeller plane days.
    But the best flight I ever had was on a plane from New York City to Dallas, non stop. I was the only person on the plane. They put me in first class and spent the whole time entertaining me, even the bored pilot brought me up into the cockpit and let me sit in the co-pilots seat. Imagine that, it would be unheard of today. But I loved that flight, nothing will ever come close. I've often thought of that flight as I've sat squeezed between two other people trying to stand the awful seats.

    Great blog Cindi, you dragged me in to memories!

  17. Arkansas Cyndi // August 7, 2008 at 5:47 PM  

    Hey Sandi - I've flown into St. Thomas. What I remember is that the runway starts (or ends, depending of your viewpoint) at the end of the island. Thus, it felt like we skimmed over the water. I swear, the wheels were wet! LOL

    Going home from there was just awful. Got left in Puerto Rico, had to rebook, rude gate attendants, etc. Another story for another time.

  18. Anonymous // August 7, 2008 at 6:06 PM  

    Cyndi, I can so relate to your tale! My daughter and I flew from Atlanta to Philadephia to Venice and back again this summer and the whole deal was a comedy of errors. The last part was me riding through the Philadelphia airport in the handicap cart!

    Can't wait to hear the rest!

    The Scarlet Pumpernickel

  19. Mary Marvella // August 7, 2008 at 6:15 PM  

    Girl, I'm still laughing and I posted this for you.

    Shall we announce today's winner tomorrow, to allow as many comments as possible for today, and make everyone come back tomorrow?

  20. Arkansas Cyndi // August 7, 2008 at 7:40 PM  

    Today's winner announced on Friday. I'll be on a the road (doing some timed writing with a CPs this weekend).

    Thanks for visiting. Come back tomorrow. It gets worse. Impossible you say? Nope. Very possible.

    See you then!