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Subject: Airport misery rss

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¡dn ʇǝƃ ʇ,uɐɔ ı puɐ uǝllɐɟ ǝʌ,ı
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Having to be at an airport hours before you really need to be there is bad enough, but surely you have a story of woe about an airport or airplane that you can share that makes today look like a great day in comparison?
Were you stuck in the middle seat for a long time between two people that you couldn't escape from? Did a 4 year-old kid kick the back of your seat for 5 hours straight? Were you on the flight from crying baby hell?
_______________________________________________________________________________________

My own worst air travel experience happened at London Heathrow-- we were on a flight from Dublin that departed late because some idiot checked their luggage onto the plane but didn't get on the plane themselves, so the luggage had to be located and removed before we could leave.
sitting for 30 minutes on the plane on the ground seems like 2 hours, but we eventually got going.

Arriving in London, we circled for what felt like days-- our assigned arrival slot was obviously missed so air traffic control had to squeeze us into the lineup somehow, between the flights that were supposed to be there at around that time.
Next, we land and get put on a bus that drives through the maze that is Heathrow, all the while hoping that our connecting flight hasn't left without us.

We finally get into the airport itself, run to the custom line-- which is crazy busy, naturally. We are frantically trying to get through as quickly as possible and they want us to remove our shoes to prove that our family of three aren't terrorists.
Barefoot/ sockfoot and running full speed through the airport to the opposite end of the terminals-- it's always the very last possible gate, the furthest from customs that you can physically get-- we arrive at the departure gate to find-- a miracle! The flight has just boarded but hasn't taken off yet!

Turns out that some 60 year-old woman on our flight had visited Lourdes in France and had some Holy Water with her carry-on. And not in the approved 150ml size, and she had steadfastly refused to let it go at customs.
I mean, she's made the trip of a lifetime from Canada to get the stuff and they want her to throw it away? Screw that!

Bless her, I say! We made the connecting flight home because of her.
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Andy Andersen
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When I retired 9+ years ago I vowed to never get on a plane again.

So far so good. I've told my best friend in California that if he is going to die to make sure he gives me a few days notice. It's a long drive out there.
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James Newton
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Well since we're in that sort of mood, grab a beer and a chair and I'll tell you about my flight to Croatia ...

So, we get to Heathrow (is there a common theme here? You decide.) in plenty of time and check in as normal. When the flight gets called, we make our way to the gate. As they check our tickets and passports against the computer screen, we get asked to stand to one side. So do a few other people (about a dozen of us in total). We aren't told anything, despite asking.

Eventually we realise that, not only has everyone else boarded, but the flight has departed. Only then does an official from Croatia Airlines come and explain to us that there had been a mechanical fault with the original plane, it was replaced with a smaller model, and there wasn't room for us. Supposedly, we were the ones checked in with seat numbers that didn't exist on the replacement plane.

We were being re-routed on a different flight several hours later. We asked about our luggage and he said he would deal with it, as otherwise we would have to go through check-in again. Some people were going to miss their connecting ferries to island resorts and he said that hotel accommodation would be arranged. He also gave us meal vouchers for £20 per head, which seemed decent. And we managed to persuade him to upgrade us to Business class.

So eventually we get on our flight - which turns out not to be a direct flight. But we do fly business class to Zagreb (which was pretty nice), and then get our connecting flight to Split (no business class on that one, unfortunately).

So we finally arrive in Split at nearly midnight. Our little group are the only non-locals on the flight, and the only ones gathered by the baggage carousel, where we wait, until an airport official comes up to us and says "Are you the group whose luggage is still at Heathrow?".

On top of that, there were no hotel arrangments for those who couldn't get to their resorts; we were lucky - our resort manager was there, with a Croatian hotel driver who helped us fill in the lost luggage forms.

Our luggage didn't reach us until 2 days later. It had to fly the same route (on the later flight via Zagreb, not our original morning flight), and so arrived in Split after the lost luggage office closed, so had to be reclaimed the day after that (although this was still a day too soon to be able to claim on our travel insurance!).

The only plus was that we did then get the statutory EU refund for being denied boarding on an EU flight (even though this was before Croatia joined the EU), which was somewhere between 300 and 400 Euros each.
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Bryan Thunkd
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Orangemoose wrote:
I've told my best friend in California that if he is going to die to make sure he gives me a few days notice. It's a long drive out there.
I'm pretty sure that qualifies as a "when" not "if" situation.
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Dwayne Hendrickson
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Back in the 90's, one of the first times I ever flew on business was to attend a software conference in San Diego. The conference started on Monday, so I told the secretary making my arrangements that I'd like to get there on Sunday. She said I go leave as early as Saturday, but I didn't want to leave that early.

On Friday she gives me my tickets and says, "Don't forget, you're leaving on Sunday." No problem. I get to the airport on Sunday, hand over my ticket to the agent, he smiles and asks "Do you have a ticket for today?"

...... "Yeah, right there." I point to my ticket.

He shows me the ticket, "This is for yesterday." Damn secretary! Well, we run through my possible options and all of them are stymied because I don't own a personal nor a company credit card. In fact, the rental car was made on my bosses personal credit card (he wanted the points). The only option open for me was to fly stand-by, waiting to see if folks don't arrive for their flight.

"Well, how often does THAT happen?" I ask.

"Well, I've been here six years and the first time I saw it was one guy yesterday didn't show up."


........ "You're talking about me, you realize that?"


"Oh, yeah, sorry. Well, take this boarding pass to the gate, give it to the agent there and if nobody shows up, you can get on the plane."

SO I take off sprinting, hoping that someone is not going to get onto the flight I need. I get to the gate and there is the same agent I just dealt with and he explains that so far everyone has checked in. I might have more luck on the next flight in 2 hours.

I cool my heals at the airport, call my wife on the payphone and explain the situation. Time comes around for the next flight and that's when things get interesting. United started a new policy that day, on a Sunday, that you had to be AT the gate X minutes prior to the departure time or you didn't get on the plane. I kept looking at my watch
and it was getting closer and closer to the cutoff. I wondered how strict they were gonna be with this policy.

The gate agent, same guy as before, motions me over. "You'll want to stand here, we have your name at the top of the standby list. I think
this could get ugly." He looks down the terminal and there is a couple running for the gate. He looks at his watch and they are about 100 ft away, he hits a button and the STANDBY light comes on. He reads my name, hands me a ticket and tells me to get on the plane.

As I go down the jetway, I hear him explaining to the couple that there is only one seat left on the plane and one of them can get on and the other can fly standby. I quickened my pace.

I get to Denver and get on the standby list for San Diego and I watch plane after plane leave. I'm realizing that I will probably sleep in the airport that night and hopefully get to the conference sometime tomorrow. Last plane out of Denver, I am standing there at the STANDBY counter. The agent tells me things are looking good for me, there are about a dozen open seats. Time is ticking away when we hear several electric carts come whizzing down the terminal.

Several families bail off the carts and it is mayhem as they are fighting to get checked in when WHAM! the STANDBY sign gets lit and the agent starts handing tickets to the folks on standby (A college student, a young couple and then me). Then things get REALLY ugly because it turns out that of the families involved, each one had at least one member that wasn't getting on the plane. They started fighting with the agent, who explained that they could ALL go on standby and get whole families on the plane but then the families turned on each other for making them late.

I get on the plane, an empty seat on each side on me and I'm praying that they close the doors and take off before that gets resolved at the desk. Thankfully, we do take off without any of the families getting on board.

I get into San Diego and get to the rental car place around 0200 and the rental has expired. I have to call my boss (at 0400 our time)
for him to authorize the rental on his card and I get to the hotel around an hour earlier. I've been up for 24 hours straight by now, I get a few hours sleep and make it to the conference, a little fuzzy headed for the day, but I made it.

Ever since then, I triple check the date and day that I am leaving and I never let the secretary make my reservations.
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shumyum
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I won't bore you with the story (it involved 2 year old twins and getting stuck in Detroit), but here's the punchline:

After a lengthy discussion with the United employee about how the airline handled the situation I finally lost my cool and said, "Well, I'm never flying United again!"

The employee looked me in the eyes and quietly said, "You'll be back." That shut me up and she was correct.
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Christopher Seguin
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I fly on a very rare occasion, usually somewhere that I cannot drive to. So, if it isn’t in the continental United States, Canada, or Mexico, on a plane I go. Which I usually always hate. The Toronto airport has now made it easier for me to never want to fly anywhere every again.

So, this past fall, my wife and I decide on a ten-day trip to Dublin, London, and Edinburgh. We had a wonderful time, and the flight from Chicago to Dublin was not as bad as I thought it would be. However, it was the return trip home that took us through Toronto, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I have a friend living in Alberta, I may just make it my life mission to never visit anywhere in Canada ever again!

We left Edinburgh, and our flight arrived at Toronto Pearson in the early morning. We walk around a bit, wasting some time during our flight delay and waiting for a reasonable time to eat some lunch (as we did not want to eat lunch at 9:30 AM local time). Because we are US citizens with US passports, we were cordoned off into a section of Pearson that includes a sign that says “You must leave these premises within 24 hours of arrival or you will be guilty of violating international travel laws”. Regardless, we were able to waste some time, and found a place to eat. It seemed fine, until it was time to head to our “gate”. I use the term “gate” loosely here, as I don’t have a better way to describe the situation. Let’s just say, I have never had to take an elevator at the end of an empty hallway to reach the second half of a terminal in an International Airport.

So now, after we have taken an elevator down more flights than I expected, we reach the “terminal” for people flying back to the smaller airports in the states – by smaller, I mean like “Cleveland Hopkins” or “Charlotte”, and other “backwater” airports that are not the behemoth locations like LaGuadia, O’Hare, or LAX.

Oh, and I forgot to mention, but I think that this particular day of travel happened to be the hottest day in Toronto in nearly 60 years, and the “terminal” that we were relegated to did not have any reasonably working air conditioning.

So, as we are sitting in an area comprised of mainly folding chairs along a long corridor, other people who are headed towards Cleveland start to sit in the area, including a man who is sweating profusely – think Chris Farley in pretty much anything he does while wearing a suit coat. My wife and I call him “Sweaty Man”. And this gentleman was wearing a wool suit as well. Eventually, he took his coat off, and it looked like he had just come out of a swimming pool – drenched from head to toe in sweat.
We are watching the board, and the flight is delayed, delayed some more, and then still delayed. But no airport employees are around to make announcements for people heading to Cleveland, and no one has any idea what is going on. In the meantime, I look outside, and I happen to notice that the plane that has been sitting at our “gate” has actually been sitting there for at least the two hours that my wife and I have been sitting there – meaning that the plane itself has probably not yet been used today, and wasn’t a recent arrival in the rotation of planes.

The gate agent finally picks up the microphone, and apologizes for the delay. Apparently, no one associated with Canada Air actually scheduled a crew for a flight from Pearson to Cleveland for that day, so they were awaiting the arrival of the Charlotte flight so that the arriving flight crew could become our departing flight crew after they had a chance to disembark, use the bathroom, and get a drink of water.

I said to my wife, “Oh, great, now some tired, angry, and disgruntled flight crew that thought they were spending the night in fancy Toronto will now have to quickly fly to Cleveland, Ohio instead! They are gonna love that!” And now that an agent has arrived at the gate, Sweaty Man is asking “when are they going to pump some air down here?” Sweaty Man is walking up to the counter every five minutes asking the same question, and the agent keeps saying “They are working on it”. I don’t think “They” exist, but it pacifies him for another five minutes until he bemoans his condition 300 seconds later.

Finally, after another 45 minutes, we hear an announcement that the flight from Charlotte has arrived, which means that our pissed off and angry flight crew will soon be aboard the plane that has been baking in the hot sun for at least four hours waiting to head to glorious Cleveland, Ohio. Another 30 minute delay, and it is finally time to board our plane.
By the way, I should mention that while the plane was baking in the hot sun for five hours at our gate, no one actually bothered to “turn on the engine” and get some air circulating within the plane.

So now, we have been granted permission to load ourselves into a plane that is also doubling as a weight-loss sauna. I guarantee the inside temperature of this steel bullet with one engine is 110 degrees, minimum! And of course, the moment Sweaty Man gets on board, he is screaming about the temperature and lack of air circulation. The remaining 59 passengers are just sucking it up and dealing with it, since the flight to glorious Cleveland, Ohio is I think less than one hour.

Turns out our “crew” is literally three people – pilot, co-pilot, and one stewardess. I have to give props to these people operating under these circumstances, because they were good people during this entire event. Sweaty Man, however, was not. His temperament is increasing, and now he is demanding water and more air, and keeps hitting the “call light” even though it is quite evident that the one stewardess is helping out 59 other passengers find seats and load luggage in the overheads. She finally heeds his call, and explains that they are working on the air, but that it takes a bit of time to get going since the plane was just “turned on”.

About halfway through her safety spiel (you know, the goofy thing that they all must do), he pushes the button again. She stops motioning while the recording continues, and the looks of hatred and exasperation on her face has reached a boiling point. She turns off the safety recording, walks over to the man, sticks her wagging finger about two inches from his nose, and politely but forcefully says to him “Sir, if you do not let me finish this very important and required safety message to all of the passengers, I will have you forcefully removed from this plane. Do you understand what I am saying?”. Sweaty Man nods, and the rest of the plane cheers (silently, of course) for her bluntness. Of course, she had to restart the message from the beginning.

After that, there is all of the standard protocol for a small plane with low priority that is already delayed four hours from actually taking off, so the stewardess finds about three or four large 1-liter bottles of water and some plastic cups and starts pouring water to any passenger that needs it. Of course, the water that is consumed is quickly sweated out by all of the passengers, but it helped for a short time. We finally get out to the runway, wait our turn in line amongst the big four-engine 747’s and the 767 jumbo jets and the Airbus 300’s with 500 passengers, and finally our 60-passenger flying Greyhound Bus is in the air. Sweaty Man is still complaining, but a bit less now that he has water, and the stewardess is being incredibly patient with everyone as best as she can.

Sweaty Man is pissed the moment we touch down in Cleveland, wondering why we are taxiing so long and so far from the terminal, and I swear he hit the call button at least three more times while the stewardess is sitting in her chair, seatbelted in, and not able to do anything for him. I was sitting in the aisle during the flight, and was only a few rows back from her seat, and would occasionally throw a glance her way that said “hang in there, this is almost over, and you will soon be able to tell your children and your grandchildren about that one time to went to Cleveland with a sweaty man in a flying sauna”.

Sweaty Man waited for no one once the “Buckle” light was turned off, and was at the door faster than the stewardess could open it. My wife and I both thanked her for showing professionalism and patience during the flight. However, we also vowed (although we did not tell her this) that we will never fly Air Canada or travel through Toronto Pearson International Airport ever again.
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Ygor
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In Nagoya, Japan, I once passed out on the warm, embracing floor of a private toilet - was forced to stay up drinking the night before a 32 hour trip. Needless to say, a bad decision.

The ambient music was nice. The temperature was very warm and I think the floors were heated.

It was extremely clean, as in "eat off the floor" clean.

My cell alarm woke me up right before boarding time.

Nobody knocked on the stall door, as far as I know.

Here is a close approximation of the facilities:

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shumyum
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galad2003 wrote:
I had to go to the airfield everyday to see if I could catch a flight at 6AM, sit around most of the day until it was officially announced all flights were cancelled. This went on for a week.


This reminds me of what happened to my dad when his tour was over in Vietnam. This was 1970. I was 10 months old and my dad hadn't met me yet. He had been in Saigon a year (luckily no combat) and needless to say he was anxious to get home.

Well, the flights back for people who were finished with their tour (is there a military term for this?) were limited. My dad would wake up early every morning, look on some list to see if he was assigned a flight for that day, find out he wasn't, and then drink the rest of the day. He was strictly not allowed to do any army activities during this time and even the least superstitious would be freaked out that something bad would happen after a tour was over but you were still in-country...so thus the drinking.

Finally after a week of this he gets a flight. He's hungover but happy and settles into his seat. In flight, he introduces himself to the soldier next to him and asks him if he's happy to be leaving. The soldier says, "Yep, and I brought back souvenirs." He opens his coat and shows my dad a couple grenades. THAT'S when my dad thought his number was REALLY up...worrying himself sick all the way back to California.
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Andy Andersen
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shumyum wrote:
The soldier says, "Yep, and I brought back souvenirs." He opens his coat and shows my dad a couple grenades.


I knew there was a reason why we have TSA today.
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Roger Secrest
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shumyum wrote:
(is there a military term for this?)


DEROS Pronounced Dee Ros, with a strong "O"

Date Eligible (to) Return (from) Overseas
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MABBY wrote:
Were you on the flight from crying baby hell?

Well, yes. I was on a flight to Asia, so very long, there was only one seat left, it was in the front row of coach, so there was no seat in front of me, no legroom, nowhere to put my luggage. In the middle of the row. With two bassinets bolted to the wall, so one baby was hanging over my left knee, another over my right, with the mothers on either side. The babies weren't terribly fussy, but they were babies so they did fuss some and in general they didn't sleep much. So I couldn't sleep at all. At one point one of the fathers was up there talking to his wife, and I was thinking, "Hey man, why don't you sit here with your baby and I go to your peaceful seat a few rows back."

But overall I don't mind flying much. Just returned from Seattle a few hours ago on a redeye. It wasn't bad at all, saw a couple films, slept a few hours.
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John Hathorn
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wmshub wrote:
MABBY wrote:
Were you on the flight from crying baby hell?

Well, yes. I was on a flight to Asia, so very long, there was only one seat left, it was in the front row of coach, so there was no seat in front of me, no legroom, nowhere to put my luggage. In the middle of the row.
I heard recently that airlines are starting to advertise these middle row seats as Super Basic Economy Class now. Except, they're charging the same for these seats that they were already charging and raising the prices of the seats on the window and aisle.
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MABBY wrote:
Were you on the flight from crying baby hell?


When my daughter was about seven months old, our 3pm flight from Vancouver to Toronto was cancelled and we were moved to the 4pm flight. When we got to the airport, our seats 4E and F. For whatever reason, Air Camada had bumped us to business class! It was awesome. Our kid slept most of the way there, and when she was awake played by our feet quietly.

On the flight home a week later, we were in economy. Our luck of the draw seats saw my wife and I in middle seats across the aisle from one another, one row apart.

The folks in those rows were accommodating and got my wife and I together in the same row.

Well, you know how every flight has that one screaming child? Well. That was us. Turns out she was getting her first teeth. She didn't stop crying until the descent to YVR when she promptly fell asleep.
 
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Wendell
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I was going from Amsterdam to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The itinerary was via Frankfurt to Almaty, and then by bus from Almaty to Bishkek. (Bishkek's airport in those days in the early '90s lacked regular supplies of aviation fuel, it seems.)

The hop to Frankfurt was short. Spent a few hours at the airport in Frankfurt, and boarded the Lufthansa flight to Almaty.

It was a DC-10, with the ever popular 2-5-2 configuration. That means one person in every row is TWO seats away from an aisle. Everybody who's been on an 8-hour flight in that seat on a completely full flight, raise your hand.



It was February, so naturally it felt like August in Texas in the plane. I had two drunk Kazaks* on my left, and two drunk Kazaks* on my right. The service was that famous Lufthansa style of English efficiency and German charm**. I was grumpy, semi-jetlagged (I'd been in the Netherlands only a few days), hot. I had one chance to get out to stretch my legs and hit the bathroom; otherwise, I would have had to climb over the bodies of passed-out descendants of nomads.

It was not my best flight. But at least Bishkek was kind of cool.

*I assume. I guess they could've been Kyrgizis or Uzbeks or something, but it WAS a flight to Kazakhstan...

**Apologies for any stereotyping there but it's too good a joke to pass on. But my several experiences with Lufthansa flights have ALL been unpleasant.
 
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I do not have an embark story.

But I do have a debark story.

I went on holiday to Moscow and Leningrad. This was behind the Iron Curtain, the Soviet Union under Gorbachev. We flew into Moscow airport, and went through Immigration. Then we all waited at Customs. Every single one of us waiting for over 30 minutes as a Russian man returning home brought his brand new washing machine through Customs. A washing machine. On the counter. Him talking with the Russian Customs officer. Filling in forms. Paying the taxes. Over 30 minutes.

For not one moment did it occur to any of them to allow the 100+ tourists to go through first.

Communism.
 
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Sven Hylsgren
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Went on a business trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, some 15 years ago. Went from Stockholm Arlanda, and changed plane in Amsterdam. The VERY desoriented driver of the plane from Amsterdam to Edinburgh landed at Glasgow's Airport (oh, yes this tiny country with two cities in total worth mentioning can't agree on one airport so they each have their own little field for steel birds), which led to some waiting for a new take-off to fly some 55-60 km eastwards to Edinburgh Airport. This being the shortest distance I have flown.

Do I need to mention that our luggage was - of course - off-loaded in Glasgow and had to be sent with car to our hotel?
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AMK
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I've got two:

1) My wife and I were going to Ireland for 5.5 weeks back in 2013. We have two cats and didn't have anyone to watch them (our friends all said no or were allergic) so we made a stop at St. Paul on the way there and back to drop off with my parents and pick them up on our way back. This is relevant because you need to confirm animal "reservations" with the airline ahead of time. American, at least, only allows four animals in the cabin per flight.

The trip there went (mostly) fine. However the trip back was supposed to go from Dublin to Chicago to St. Paul (pick up cats) to Seattle. The problem was that our flight from Dublin to Chicago didn't land in Chicago, it landed in Dallas. To this day I have no idea why we were re-routed mid-flight. They reassigned all passengers to different connecting flights and had tickets waiting when we landed but the flight they put us on only gave us a 50 minute layover. This wouldn't have been a problem for a domestic flight except we had to go through immigration, claim our luggage, go through customs, drop off our luggage, and go back through security. Our biggest worry is that we would eventually miss the MSP to SEA flight and not be able to get our cats home. We also got engaged in Ireland and were going to tell my parents in Minnesota while we picked up the cats.

After we went through security I sprinted to the plane leaving my wife behind (at her request, I am much faster than her, I wasn't being mean). I get there about a minute before my wife and the lady tells me they already closed the door and the plane was pulling out. I am furious and start throw my back on the floor and yelling at her. In hindsight this wasn't the smartest or nicest thing I've ever done but we all have our moments. Anyway, my wife sees me throwing a fit from some distance away and starts crying. The lady takes pity on us and calls the pilot who was nice enough to pull the plane back up so we could get on. In the end it all worked out, though we didn't get our luggage for a few days.

2) After the flight above I emailed American Airlines with some complaints and they gave my wife and me $400 each for future flights. In 2014 we used this to go to GenCon. We flew from Seattle to Chicago to Indianapolis. We have had horrible experience with Chicago before and missing flights due to delays in Chicago so I planned a 2.5 hour layover. Probably because I planned for a long layover everything actually went really smoothly. Every flight was on time (if not early).

The problem is that they lost our luggage. When I went to the counter I was being somewhat aggressive about it. I can understand losing someones luggage when flights are delayed and the layover is 30 min, but losing luggage in a 2.5 hour layover seemed unreasonable.

I made a comment along the lines of "How does this happen? I mean, I could have gone to baggage claim to collect my luggage, rechecked it, and came back through security with time to spare. How did it not make it from one plane to the other plane?"

This response is word for word what the person said to me (I'll never forget it), and is why I will never fly with American Airlines again: "Things happen behind the scenes that you don't know about. The important thing is, it's nobody's fault."

I couldn't believe they wouldn't claim responsibility, or even say "sorry".

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