Over the years of traveling one gets to experience all sorts of people, situations and setbacks. Traveling isn’t glamorous, unless of course you travel First Class or ride in your own private jet. The rest of us spend a lot of time waiting. We traverse through a humiliating security checks, we at times roll with the punches based on setbacks or we react (typically badly) to those setbacks.
I’ve had my own unique experiences throughout the years. I have missed flights, had issues with immigration, sat next to “that person” on too long a flight and dealt with many delayed or canceled flights. What I have learned over the years is that airport issues are essentially a test of my stoic approach to life. Said differently the majority of airport issues are not in your control. Unfortunately in my experience they bring out the worst in people as they believe reacting is somehow going to fix the issue and/or make them feel better.
Last night’s journey was from Austin to London via Chicago. I have flown through Chicago hundreds of times and like most major itineraries, it comes with incidents. Last night’s incident would rate in my top five! Without going into detail here is a summary of the issues:
• Delay of flight given maintenance issues (ended up boarding the flight 4.5 hours after the original boarding time)
• After boarding both the Captain and First Officer disembark based off fatigue and their ability to fly a safe flight
• We disembark the plane 90 minutes after boarding it
• We wait in line for nearly two hours waiting to get hotel and meal vouchers (and a flight rebook, although I did my rebooking online)
• After getting the vouchers I’m told to get a hotel shuttle to the hotel and they run until 1am. Note the hotel was 9 miles (14.5 kms) from the airport!
• Waited an hour at the shuttle area for the hotel shuttle which never ended arriving
• Hailed a taxi and found out the location of the hotel is not listed as a standard rate. This meant I paid 1.5x the normal fare
• Once at the hotel there were about 20 couples/families in front of me. This delayed bedtime by another 45 minutes!
Most people would lose their marbles having to deal with this comedy of errors. Older people, or families also have additional complexities above and beyond the list of issues I have noted. That said, these situations bring out either the best or the worst in us.
How did I deal with it? Externally, I was able to keep my cool nor complain to anyone. Internally though, I was close to reaching a tipping point. When one is hungry and tired combined with a clear idea of how to do things differently versus the airline’s approach…. it is hard to stay rational.
What’s the lesson in all of this? Life is about tests and how we step up for them. No one is perfect. In some we prevail and in others we do not. The latter result is how we learn and grow. I’m destined to experience another airport incident like this one in my lifetime. I would like to say I will deal with it in an even better way next time.