An Airport, A Kiosk And A Boarding Pass – Our Chicago Miracle
“There’s been a fire in a radar facility causing the shutdown of O’Hare and Midway airports” the newscaster reported on the news early Friday morning.
“Raphael!” I yelled down the hall, smelling the coffee he was busy brewing to give us the morning jolt we needed, “you’ve gotta see this.”
I was soaking wet after just getting out of the shower, it was 5am and we were scheduled for a 9am flight to Chicago.
The weatherman was making a stupid joke with the helicopter reporter.
‘Get back to that O’Hare fire’ I said aloud to the TV, but they ignored me and cut to traffic.
We checked our flight status online and made sure we’d get the texts of any updates, and continued to get ready.
Since everything with United Airlines looked okay, we braved the 405 freeway and headed toward the airport. It would take us a fat hour with traffic.
Can I just take a minute to marvel with you, at the amount of traffic that’s already on the road at 6:30am?
I gotta say, Carmagedddon was totally worth it – God bless the diamond lane.
We left the car in Lot C, took the shuttle to the terminal and the morning was going so smoothly at that point, I’d forgotten about the Chicago debacle.
As we entered Terminal 7, a smiling United Airlines representative met us at the door.
“Good morning, can I direct you anywhere? Where are you headed?”
“Chicago” we both said at the same time. (Jinx, he owes me a coke)
She dropped her smile, “Oh, those flights are all cancelled, you might as well go home.”
Raphael took out his phone “but I haven’t gotten any texts about that, I’ve been checking the status.”
Just then, on cue, a text came in: Delayed until ten, it said.
That was news to the rep. “The board has all flights to the Midwest cancelled…”
The three of us were now all looking at the Departure board, Cancelled had turned to Delayed – it was news to her.
“The situation is obviously very fluid” she sputtered, getting on her walkie talkie looking thing.
As we went around her, toward security, I suggested she might want to stop telling people to go home, yet, that’s what I heard her doing as we wheeled away.
Some people just can’t operate “off book” and highly fluid situations throw them for a loop. Even though the board had changed, no one had verbally informed her yet, so she was sticking to her story.
I wonder how many people turned around and went home when she met them at the door?
Which brings me to Observation #2.
Don’t be a lemming.
Lemmings don’t think for themselves, they will literally follow the leader off a cliff. Assess a situation, ask around, determine the best course of action – FOR YOU. When people meet you at the door and tell you to go home…
Just don’t be a lemming.
We breezed through security, (although they did pull me aside to be swiped down and frisked; as the clear security threat that I am) and went to our gate.
DELAYED – 10 am DEPARTURE.
People were milling around in various stages of discombobulation.
Observation # 3
People don’t like change. In general and especially while traveling. I’ve always found change inevitable while traveling, and some of the biggest detours have provided the best experiences.
We left all the screaming and crying and gnashing of teeth behind, and went to sit and eat a civilized breakfast since we had an additional hour to kill.
As we ate, I could see the the BREAKING NEWS ticker on CNN talking about the fire in Chicago. Over seven hundred flights had been cancelled.
We were in good spirits. The trip to Chicago was for a big party. It wasn’t the end of the world if we didn’t get there.
Right then and there we decided to take it out of United Airline’s hands and leave it up to the Universe.
We high five’d it. It felt like a relief.
We received a text as we finished our coffee, it read: your flight has been cancelled, we have re-booked you on a flight to Houston and then a transfer to Chicago. You will arrive at 10 am TOMORROW.
Yeah, no way.
The customer service line was three hundred people long. I’m not kidding.
Again, it was NOT a happy place.
Another frazzled United rep with a computer thingy was going down the line, asking people where they were headed and apparently trying to re-route them.
“Chicago? Yeah, you’re not going to get there today” she gingerly informed the couple ahead of us.
They were upset. Chicago was home, and they just wanted to get home.
“We got a text that we’ve been re-booked through Houston” my husband interjected while the rep was looking at her shoes, feeling helpless.
“Oh, well, I guess just go to the kiosk and enter your confirmation number and you should be able to check on that.”
So we did.
Sometimes the Universe sends angels. They can appear as a harried Airline representative – and a kiosk.
At the kiosk, after entering the thirteen letters and numbers that had confirmed our now cancelled flight, up popped our names and the Houston/Chicago re-route.
It appeared in that moment that it was going to take us over 24 hrs to get to the Windy City.
Then it appeared; down on the bottom left hand side of the screen, an unobtrusive little button: OTHER OPTIONS
I pressed it and a miracle occurred.
LAX – CHICAGO O’HARE – 11am – arrival – 4:45pm
We looked at each other; I pressed CONTINUE
What?! There were seats on a flight that left today? In an hour and a half?
Everyone was telling us to go home, or circumnavigate the globe to end up in Chi-town.
It looked like there were about twelve seats available. Really? That didn’t seem feasible.
We picked two in the exit row (with the extra leg room for my six foot three big handsome) crossed our fingers, toes and eyes and hit CONTINUE
The kiosk did a little dance and then spit out two perfectly miraculous boarding passes – just like that.
We were literally right next to three hundred really aggravated people, in line being told they had no options.
We couldn’t believe our good fortune until we were sitting in our seats, taxiing down the runway. Then we toasted with Ginger Ale.
You can jump on the bad news, why me, aggravation bandwagon, take NO for an answer, and go home; OR you can give the F’d up situation to something more powerful than the airlines, not even break a sweat, and wait for the miracles to occur. We choose the latter.
I’m writing this in my seat on a very full flight (so other people obviously got the Universal memo) and I’m feeling very blessed and NOT *overclamoured.
*one of my new friends from our flight, Derek, made up this word about the mood in the airport today; we loved it so much he’s entering into the Urban Dictionary. Look for it 😉
When have you felt overclamoured and turned it around? Did you get a miracle?
Sending Chicago Love,