Monday, March 10, 2008

Home sweet home: my journey through the storm of the century

Continuing my adventures on my way back from the Omniture Summit (check my previous post about "Continental Airline, where's your purple cow?" for the beginning of this entertaining journey).

Being a five star customer...

If I had absolutely wanted to go to Quebec city from Newark I would still be sitting in the airport and starting to smell like... well... cow...

The plane from Newark to Ottawa was scheduled for 8:00pm, 9:00pm, 10:00pm, 11:00pm. After waiting for several hours in line, I got boarding passes to Ottawa instead of Quebec city. I can tell you, spending days in an airport is an amazing way to learn tricks about traveling. When you are on standby, your boarding pass will show with "STBY" where the seat number should be. Mine showed "*****" but not because I was upgraded to a Five Star customer... The "very comprehensive" agent told me she "didn't understand" that according to sales I had a seat, but according to the seat map there was no room left. Yeah right... I was oversold. Why didn't she simply tell me that?

I also learned that if you leave the security area and your boarding pass says 8:00pm and it's now 8:30pm, you won't be able to get back through security even if the flight was delayed to 9:00pm... Go figure... Someone got trapped "outside" and they had to go through all the bureaucracy to get back.

A nice couple ended up being oversold because somehow they went through security and even registered their luggage, but they supposedly didn't confirm their seats. How could this happen?

We have a plane, but no crew and no pilot

Must have bit a hell of a storm because they lost crews and pilots! When planes made their way to the gates, we often heard messages saying "we're sorry for the delay, the plane is here, but we're waiting for the crew to arrive, we don't know where they are". Wow! I thought the Bermuda Triangle was a legend!

Feeling lucky

Finally made it to Ottawa, landed safely. And of course, as I expected, my luggage didn't follow. I was certainly not alone because there were dozens of bags turning around, some piled up beside the conveyor, and a dozen people wondering if they should just grab one of the bag and win a complete new wardrobe :)

Filed the "A32, four copy form" for lost luggage...

During the long wait we had time to make plans... Most people wanted to go to Montreal (about 2 hour drive from Ottawa, and another 3 hours to Quebec city). Some people managed to get lifts from family and helped others. I ended up renting a car and made my way to Montreal with another person, then continued the long trip to Quebec city. At least that part went well, road conditions were fine and we chatted all the way to Montreal. Must admit however that staying awake was getting very challenging...

Welcome to Quebec city

6:00am, had about 4 hours sleep over the past 3 days. Drove straight to the airport, gave back the keys and went inside to inquire about my luggage. Forget it... Now, where's my car? Most of the cars are covered in snow, alarm panic button on the key chain is quite useful in those case! Took me another hour to get out of there... Arrived home just in time to cross my wife going to work, canceled a meeting today and went to bed.

Home sweet home

Woke around noon and had a first glimpse at my front and backyard: snow banks are up the roof.

Tried to call back to check where my luggage were... guess what? They can't find my claim file!

Now let's do some work to pay all those additional expenses...