Travel Horror Stories: The Series

I believe that that all bloggers eventually write about their travel
experiences, such as here, here, here, here, here, and here. Some people write about the wonderful places they have gone, the interesting people they have met, and the fantastic meals they have had. Others write about the horrors that have been inflicted on them by airlines, surly customs officials, poorly managed hotels, unpredictable weather, and germs that new to their gastric systems. My stories are of the second variety. I rarely travel for pleasure, but work has kept me accumulating at least enough frequent flyer miles to make the lowest tier of premium traveler status year after year.

I write this sitting in the C terminal of Reagan National Airport. My flight to Chicago is delayed due to thunderstorms between here and Chicago. The weather here has been fine since I arrived, but we were told that bad thunderstorms are about to descend on us. If they pass through quickly enough and the plane from Chicago can land, unload, be serviced, loaded, and be ready to take before 10:00 PM we will be able to go to Chicago today. It turns out that travel to Chicago is much worse in the summer than in the winter. Thunderstorms are much more disruptive to air traffic than snow is, but it is surprising that they are this bad in April. I usually think of the spring as the relatively simple time to travel.

10:00 PM and we left boarded about 11:30 PM. Apparently not everything wasLet me start with an annoying but not traumatic story. The details are a little sketchy since this trip is not burned into my memory like the real horrors. I was flying from Chicago to Pittsburgh after a visit to Fermilab. Normally I flew USAir between those two cities, but I had decided to try something different, and I made a reservation on American Eagle to fly on one of the new commuter jets that had just gone into service. It was the last flight out, which I try not take when returning home. Any problems with the plane or the weather and you are stuck out of town. There was a problem with the plane this time and we sat and waited. It was scheduled to leave about fixed and we sat on the plane for about an hour with air-conditioning before we took off. We were about 30 minutes from Chicago when the pilot announced that he had an equipment problem and was turning back to Chicago. When we landed all of the regular gate agents had gone home and there was only one person left to rebook everyone on other flights. I got out of there about 3:00 AM, found a hotel for a few hours sleep before heading back to the airport for my eventual return to Pittsburgh. Next time my first and last trip to Brazil.

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5 Responses to “Travel Horror Stories: The Series”

  1. I had an experience similar to yours once. It was the last flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to San Francisco. I was on layover from New Orleans, and I’d checked my heavier bag because my carry-on was bulky and heavy enough. We’d been in New Orleans for a big company retreat where my husband had won a prize for number of recruitment interviews conducted over the previous year, and instead of giving him an Amazon.com gift certificate like the other prizewinners, the committee in charge of awards knew about our interest in cooking and so bought a huge assortment of New Orleans foodstuffs (spices, hot sauce, beignet mix) and a couple of cookbooks as Mike’s prize. Mike had to go on to Chicago for work right after that weekend, so I was schlepping all the spoils back in my carry-on bag.

    So, as I said, it was the last flight, back with my clothing is checked. We get on the plane, which was delayed for an hour to begin with. Everything looks great, looking forward to taking off…until the announcement comes that we’re not going to be taking off after all, because the flight crew would be going illegal in terms of the number of continuous hours they’d been working. So it’s get off the plane, get our boarding passes marked for the morning departure and our hotel vouchers—they’re leaving the plane there, loaded with our luggage overnight—and get in line to take the shuttle bus over to the hotel where they’ll put us up.

    Problem was, there was only one shuttle bus for the whole 737’s worth of people. And the guy was sticking to rules, 20 people, no standees. I tried squeezing on as the last person on one ride after waiting 45 minutes. “Can’t I sit on the floor?” I said.

    “NO!” replied the driver, and he shut the door and drove off.

    So a couple of other passengers and I decided to splurge for a taxi and get to the hotel on our own. Luckily we showed up between vanloads and were able to get our rooms quickly. I and my spices drifted off to sleep happily.

    The next morning we heard how they had run out of rooms at our hotel and had to send some hapless souls to another hotel into the wee hours of the morning. The whole process was a disaster.

    So, I feel for you. And by the way, travel horror stories are always more fun to read than the evocative pieces.

  2. I am so happy I have moved to Spain, I’m just not that interested in traveling any more. Is that sad??

  3. […] 7. Who knew most of these would occur in airports? [Travel Horror Stories: The Series] Tags: Best of, Business Travel, Daily Dose, Horror Stories, Travel, Tag Index […]

  4. Wonder who else was on a plane from Chicago to Las Vegas on March 20, 1992 when a freak snow storm blizzard hit O’Hare and our plane was already on the runway waiting for our turn to take off. There were 63 planes in line ahead of us. All runways were closed except one for both landing and take offs. Eventually no more landings were allowed. Only take offs. AND only those who had deicing privileges when it came their turn, could do so and leave. America West had such privileges. Planes who did not, had no births to go back to! Also one of the other planes ahead of us, slipped off the runway and broke the guide lights. They had to be towed back to the terminal. Another plane ahead had a heart attack victim and an ambulance took priority. We were to leave at 3:00PM. At 1:00AM we were still in line! I think that has to be a record for sitting on the runway!!! Like an idiot, I never request a refund. I missed the birth of my first grandchild because of this delay. There was no food, no water, movies ran 3 times, stale air, bathrooms were full! I was sitting in business section and there were far fewer people there. I had to ask for a drink of water to take medications and the steward hid it under his jacket to get it to me so others wouldn’t see it. The coach section was full of crying, hungry, tired children, tired adults and it was a real mess! When we finally took off, everyone cheered. I just prayed we’d make it up in the air with all that heavy snow. Got ot L.V. and had no ride, empty airport, and my son calling back to IL asking, ‘where’s mom?’ He called to say “it’s a boy”! What a birth-night! One I’ll never foget and it wasn’t even me giving birth!

  5. What Frustrates You Most About Business Travel?

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