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The Flight Chronicles: Dealing with delays and almost cancellations

Updated on December 30, 2011

When weather interferes with air travel, it’s a gamble on whether or not you’ll make it to your destination on time-if at all. Throw in some connecting flights and the stakes get even higher. Despite the odds, in my travel experiences I’ve somehow managed to escape potential flight cancellations and being stuck at the airport, even in the most bizarre weather situations imaginable.

In one incident, my flight barely made it out of Minneapolis/St. Paul after a 2 hour delay due to high wind warnings in the area. Turns out a potent, low pressure system was moving over Minnesota causing 40 to 50+ mph winds. Given that it was late at night, the weather was bad, and was forecasted to get even worse, I was completely surprised that the flight wasn’t cancelled. In this case, I would have been okay with that decision. That night, we had to take off at a very steep angle because of the strong head winds. It was almost like being launched in a rocket. It was a bumpy ride to say the least but with our fearless pilot, we made it home that night.

On another occasion, I was heading back to school in South Dakota after spending the holidays with my family in Texas. I was supposed to have a 2-3-1 kind of flight; that is, 2 states, 3 airports, with 1 airline. Instead, I had a 4-5-3 kind of flight. I was supposed to fly back during the weekend but the flight got cancelled the night before due to a major winter storm that halted travel at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. When I called to reschedule, I took the option of flying back a different day. Rescheduling not only gave me 2 extra days with my family but also assured me that I wouldn’t have to worry about any major storms when I flew out.

The day I flew out, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for travel. There was nothing but blue skies as far as the eye could see. So, what went wrong?

Well, I started from a regional airport with American Airlines. The original plan was to fly to Dallas and catch my connecting flight to South Dakota. However, my first flight got delayed by 20 minutes (never told why), setting off a chain of events. When I finally arrived in Dallas, I missed my connecting flight by JUST a few minutes. Apparently, it was the last direct flight of the day for the entire airport. So, American, for whatever reason, decided to switch me over to Delta and fly me to Salt Lake City to catch a flight to South Dakota.

Delays with the Dallas to Salt Lake City flight caused me to once again miss my connecting flight. After talking with a Delta representative, who gave me two meal vouchers for a “passenger in distress”, I was switched over to United for a Salt Lake City to Denver flight. I knew this was going to be my last chance and it came down to the wire. There was a delay with the United flight, which by that time I wanted to pull my hair out. However, somehow the flight made it to Denver and by the time I got off the plane, I had 10 minutes to get to my gate, which fortunately wasn’t that far. When I made it, they were just starting to board the plane and I was finally able to make it to South Dakota.

From that one-day experience, I decided I was never EVER flying with American Airlines. Delta was alright but United got me where I needed to be. I’ve been flying with United since then and despite the baggage fees and the five different groups that get to board before you do, I’m actually content. I’ve never been on flights that arrive 15 minutes early. Have you?


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