Stranded at Dulles airport

Trip Start Oct 30, 2009
Trip End Nov 05, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Virginia
Friday, October 30, 2009

I rushed from work ready to tackle the giant U.S. customs lines at the airport before my 7:20 p.m. flight to Washington.

I got there, sort of disappointed that there weren't any.

I flew through the screening process, faced no interrogation by the customs officer and waited around, patiently for about 1.5 hours only to find that my flight was delayed until 8 p.m.

Ohhhhhhh man. All of us crowd around the Air Canada booking agent guy, frustrated and wondering if we'll catch our connecting flights. Most people still will, but I'm left wondering about mine.

"Oh yeah, they'll hold the flight for you once you get there," the cool and collected African American man tells me with a tiny grin and a nod. I briefly sense a tiny bit of insincerity and bullshit sliding through the gap in his front teeth.

"Well, can you please make sure that my bags are transferred very quickly, like, flag them or something?" Everytime I go to the states, I lose my bags, no word of a lie.

"Oh yeah, for sure," and then he types something into the machine and I go back and sit down waiting for my flight to finally leave.

I decide to use the facilities and I have to tell you, I really have a beef with automatic toilets in airports. The toilets flushed not once, not twice, but FOUR times in one visit to the lavatory.

It turns out they needed to change the brakes on the plane from Ottawa to Washington, so we were delayed at least an hour and a half.

My plane to Pittsburgh leaves at 9:55 p.m., we slowly taxi into the airport at about 10:03 p.m. I run to the gate, only to be told that yes, of course, my flight has already left. Why on earth would they wait a few moments for a stranded Canadian to get on the plane?

Anyway, me and another guy from Cornwall (Ontario), Dwayne, are both stranded tonight. We are directed to the customer service line, where we are given a voucher for $15 for dinner, a stay at the Comfort Inn & Suites, and our boarding pass for tomorrow. I guess it's not THAT bad. I mean, I'd rather be stranded than be on a plane without any working brakes, right?

The problem comes however, with the clueless United Airlines staff sending us on a wild goose chase to our hotel.

"Go out these doors and then wait for your shuttle, it should come in 20 minutes."

OK, so we wait... and we wait. A half hour goes by and everyone but us has already found their shuttle.

We're out there all alone, so I decide to call the hotel and ask how long the shuttle runs. Of course, it doesn't run right now. Back inside to talk to United.

"Yes, of course, here is a voucher for a Washington Flyer, go out the door and make a left and then a right."

We follow the signs to the Washington Flyer bus, not the taxis. Mistake again. We wait for a while, I find a schedule that says the buses aren't running either at this time.

Back to the United desk.

"Nooooo, go straight right there, take a taxi!" A different lady from before tells us.

Grrrrr.... OK, I'm need a drink, I'm spending my food voucher. The only thing still open is Guava & Java, so I try to buy one of their famous guava juices. I have to spend all $15... on what? Some yogurt and fruit?

The guy behind me in line offers to pay me if I buy him a sandwich. Sweet. $7 for free!

Thanks guy behind me in line. I also order an orange juice for Dwayne.

Dwayne has gone ahead and ordered the cab, by the time I get back there it's there. Finally, we take the cab with an unresponsive man with a big grey beard.

We get to the hotel and it's nice and new, and pretty plush, thank you Air Canada. I guess.

I get to my room, can't resist catching a bit of Rambo on Showtime, drink some decaf and then promptly pass out.
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gildo on

Well at least they changed them so that you could stop after landing. It sucks that direct flights are so hard to come by. I would have thought Pittsburgh was a big enough city to get a direct flight to.

Safe travels!

bloomer on

Yikes. . .
Ahh good old Air Canada. Equipment failure? No, that never happens on AC. At least they figured out that they had to change the brakes before an unexpected ride.

jeremystravels on

Sounds like that is going to make Primanti Brothers all the more sweeter in a few hours. Lucky Air Canada paid for your room. I had to fight with Delta to get mine paid for. See you in a few hours!

gypsyirene on

Hiya Louise
What an episode!
Hope the rest of your trip is silky smooth.
Hey Thai buddy, I'll be in Thailand again this February and going thru the same part of the country to get over to Laos.

seal on

Ah the wonders of the Air Industry..... Never on time and never ready to apologise when they stuff up.

greekcypriot on

Sranded at Dulles airport
Hi Louise!
What an experience!

starlagurl on

Yep, the rest of the trip was great. The blog is still in the works, I was WAY too busy to even think about writing it. Phew!

Cheli on

...more to the point, did they loose your bags as well?!! lol, I hate United's customer service!

starlagurl on

It was the first time EVER that an American airline did NOT lose my luggage...

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