Wondering what it’s like to go to college somewhere far from home? Like, flying distance far? Well then, read on. (Disclaimer: this is not what every travel experience will be like, but this is one you should be prepared for.)
This past week, I flew home to attend a few important family events. I flew out at 6am from Bozeman on Wednesday, and got in to Manchester, NH around 5pm. After a whirlwind five days, I checked in at the Manchester Airport on Monday to get on my 5pm flight out, which was supposed to get to bozeman at 10pm after a short connection in Chicago.
And so began my most miserable flying experience thus far.
I sat at the Manchester Airport for about an hour before my flight was supposed to leave, when I heard the dreaded announcement: Our flight was delayed due to some bad weather in Chicago, where my connection would be.
I checked my ticket and saw that I had a 90 minute layover in Chicago. So, if my flight got delayed by any more than an hour, I might have a tough time catching my next flight. After consulting with the flight attendants, I decided to wait it out before committing to rebooking to fly out the next day instead. Just as an hour passed and I decided I would need to rebook, the flight attendants told us we could head out if everyone got on to the plane quickly. I asked if they thought I would make my connection and they told me to get on the flight and hopefully I would. So I did. Instant regret.
We sat on the plane for another 30 minutes before it even took off, because it needed to be refueled. Once we took off, we were told we got re-routed and the flight would be a little over 2 hours instead of around an hour and a half. At this point, I knew I wasn’t making my connection if it left on time.
Once we landed and I looked up my next flight, I was relieved to see that it had been delayed by an hour, so I would make it just in time to board. When I got to my gate, however, I found that the flight before me hadn’t even taken off yet. I sat there as my boarding time passed, and we were delayed over and over. At about 11pm, they finally just canceled the flight. Knowing what the lines are like when they cancel a flight and everyone has to rebook, I ran to the United Airlines customer service station… and got in line.
After about an hour of standing in line, I finally just called customer service from my phone, and they rebooked me for a flight out of chicago the next morning at 9:45am. Awesome, I’m booked. Not awesome, I have to stay overnight at the Chicago airport. After debating whether to try and get a hotel and having a slight breakdown, I found a place to curl up in the airport and tried to sleep at midnight. At 6am, I gave up sleeping, got some food, and sat in my gate waiting until my flight’s time.
Finally, 9am, the flight was getting ready to board. I went up to the help desk to get my boarding pass like the woman on the phone had told me to do the night before when she booked me, and… they had no record of me being on the flight. Turned out, after I hung up with customer service, she booked me for a totally different and random flight than the one I was supposed to be booked on.
After another small breakdown and everyone had boarded, the flight attendant got me the last open seat on the flight. The one bonus to this whole experience: I flew first class. Free drinks, food and leg room for days.
So, there you have it. If you have to travel to and from school via plane, I would be careful in choosing your airlines, airports and connections. Buyers beware.
Back in Bozeman, Finally