December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, Your Flight is Canceled

We thought we had the whole process nailed - show up early, get our bags checked in at curbside, and we'd whisk through security to be on our way to Las Vegas in no time. But, for reasons unbeknownst to us, US Airways canceled our flight this afternoon - sending us on a wild goose chase to find a flight on any airline that would get us to Vegas tonight. Hours into this ordeal, we're still in the San Jose airport, and just might be here for several hours more - in what might be one of the more memorable and forgettable Christmas Eves at the same time.

We made it to Long Term Parking at San Jose relatively quickly, and made our way to San Jose's Terminal C, to make it to our US Airways flight. But when we tried to check in our bags curbside, the man's eyebrows went up, informing us that our 1:50 flight to Las Vegas had been canceled - maybe due to mechanical problems, maybe due to a missing crew. Who knew? All we were sure of was that the airline didn't have an answer in store for us or the hundreds of other stranded passengers. No replacement plane. No new time. Nothing.

We hopped into a megaline that led to US Airways' front desk - one that wasn't going anywhere fast. I hopped on the Blackberry and called the airline to find a solution, and each solution offered got increasingly dire. The gentleman on the other line said there were no seats to any Las Vegas flights that day, and maybe we could wait to fly on Christmas? Then, he tried other airlines, first offering a flight on Delta through Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, and later, offering a flight on Alaskan Airlines that went to Seattle before turning around and getting to Vegas. Even after I begrudgingly said fine, it turned out all were sold out. We were S.O.L.

Thinking fast (as the line was going slow), I called Southwest Airlines to see if we could book a same-day flight to Vegas from San Jose. Surprisingly, we could - although the earliest we could be guaranteed was at 9:15 PM, to arrive in Vegas by 10:30. We said fine, and began our walk to Terminal A. Having made it to the Southwest ticket counter, we were told that not only had we checked in successfully for that flight, but that we could choose to fly standby on any of the previous flights - with one at 1:30 p.m., another at 3:45 p.m., and a third at 5:45. Light at the end of the tunnel!

We've made our way to the gate, having parted with our checked bags, a pair of suitcases we may never see again. In fact, before the 1:30 flight, we were told that we were separating from our bags, and that the airline would not deliver them to us. Were we willing to take the risk? Sure, why not? After all, if I have my laptop and iPods in my laptop case, I don't really care if some foolish thief walks off with my slacks, sweater, underwear and socks. Hopefully they're the same size I am.

So, until further notice, we're stuck. The passengers around us change, the flights to various non-Vegas cities continue to be called sporadically, and seemingly every two minutes, Cinnabon puffs out a wafting scent of cinnamon sugar pastries. I haven't yet fallen for the ploy. But, if forced to stay through 9-something here, as we watch the sun go down on Christmas Eve, I just might do it.

Bah humbug.

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