Let’s start with a disclaimer: I’m not your true road warrior, but I do travel fairly regularly for my job. This year, I’ve been on four trips (once to Fort Worth, TX and thrice to Raleigh, NC) – once a month is pretty typical for me.
For the most part, these trips go relatively smoothly. Once in a while, flight delays will get me. For example, I once arrived in Abu Dhabi while my clothes were stuck halfway between DC and the UAE (thank goodness I had packed clean socks, undies, & a t-shirt in my carry on). Another time I got stranded in O’Hare airport due to “bad weather” between Chicago and Des Moines (Leigh & I rented a car and drove – we can attest to the fact there was no bad weather between the two cities). Another time, an airplane door closed in my face after I sprinted through the airport (I caught the next flight to a nearby airport – thank you Washington, DC for having three nearby airports).
Yesterday, however, was the first time I had an airline related incident that was totally my fault. Three of us were onsite with a client in North Carolina and had a hard time wrapping up our worksession. We then drove to the airport, returned our rental car, and saw the rental car bus drive away as we were unloading. So we waited several minutes. A bus finally arrived and we got on….and waited. Finally the bus shut its doors and we were ready to go. Oh no…a few more cars pulled up and we had to wait for the slowest people EVER to board.
On the road – finally! Our airline was of course the LAST stop on the route. Two of the three (but not me) had printed out boarding passes – they ran for security, while I ran for the kiosk.
Of course, since it was 10 minutes before takeoff, the kiosk was not interested in letting me have a boarding pass. So I got in line and waited while the plane took off, hoping that my colleagues had made it. The gentleman who helped me at the airport (thanks Johnny!) was very nice and jovial, and laughed while pointing out that this technically was my fault (indeed it was). He put me on standby for the next flight and gave me a list of options should this not work out.
I headed in through security and met my colleagues. One had made it on a standby list (she was going to NY). The other had been completely denied and was ready to rent a car and drive home. Thanks to my friend Johnny, she knew what the other options were and was able to call another airline and book a one way flight home to Baltimore (less convenient than Reagan National, but more convenient than driving from Raleigh). Thankfully I made it on the standby flight and got home only a few hours late. My colleague made it just fine too, although a few hours later.
So, what are my lessons learned?
- Do not be surprised if your plane takes off when you arrive at the airport ten minutes before takeoff (oops)!
- Have frequent flier accounts with the airlines you’re using (and tie your ticket to the number, of course) – the reason one colleague was denied standby is because she didn’t have an account.
- If the gate agent can’t help you, try the ticketing agent.
- Be nice to your gate agent – they are so much more helpful when you do not yell at them or throw things.
- Always bring clean undies
Happy traveling to you all!
Image Source: Change Your Lane