August 2, 2019 started off swimmingly. Dave and I were going to New Zealand and Australia! It was a dream trip for both of us, plus it was our anniversary.
Our flight, on Air New Zealand was to begin from Chicago O’Hare. To position, I booked a 12:30 p.m. American Airlines flight for us from LGA to ORD using British Air Avios. That would get us to Chicago at 2 p.m. with more than 7 hours before our 9:20 p.m. flight. We pictured ourselves spending the time at a nice airport lounge in Chicago sipping champagne. I should add that the weather was beautiful that day.
We packed light. We took the subway and the Q70 bus to LaGuardia Airport.
When we went through security, a TSA agent thought Dave looked like one of the Ramones. He left his post to take a photo with Dave!
Oh, what a great start to the day! We went to the American Express Centurion club at LGA and were psyched.
Let me add this note. I know now that there have been a lot of complaints in recent months about AA service, but I wasn’t flying AA so I never really paid attention to the complaints.
We went to the gate, and the representative was asking for volunteers. The deal was this: $350 voucher and guaranteed seats on the 1:30 p.m. flight. Hmmmm, what could go wrong? The 1:30 p.m. flight would get us to Chicago at 3 p.m. – with plenty of time. We raised our hands. We told the agent about our international connection, and we were told not to worry, we’d definitely be on the 1:30 p.m. flight.
That was a huge mistake.
The agent issued us our vouchers and new tickets and sent us off to the gate for the 1:30 p.m. flight. We got there and found that the flight was now delayed until 3:30 p.m. I ran back to the original gate. Why didn’t you check the status of the 1:30 flight before . . . ?
A supervisor helped us. She “protected” us with a standby ticket on the 2:30 flight. She mentioned that that flight was sold out, but we stood a good chance of getting on, if necessary.
And then the delays for both flights started inching up, minute by minute, hour by hour.
We were calling Air New Zealand and American and various hotels trying to figure out all of our alternatives.
By this point, the 1:30 flight – our guaranteed flight – was now listed as 6:30 p.m. In other words, the only thing guaranteed about this flight was that we’d miss our flight to Auckland.
At 5 p.m. the 2:30 flight started boarding. We waited to see if we would make it on the flight. Then, one of the supervisors who’d been helping us, came over to us. She said we definitely wouldn’t make it on the plane, but she had booked us on a United Airlines flight at 6 p.m. She ushered us to the door where the shuttle would take us to the UA terminal.
While waiting at the door, I checked FlightAware.com and learned that the United flight was delayed until 8:30 p.m.
The supervisor took the ticket back, and, with no choices left, we started walking to the gate of our 1:30 p.m. flight (now delayed until 7 p.m.). I figured we had a lot of calls and decisions to make.
It was now about 5:15 p.m. As I was walking through the terminal, I heard a voice on a loudspeaker from somewhere. I heard Dave’s last name being called but I had no idea where it was coming from. At the top of my lungs, I yelled out (more than once), I AM HERE. WHO’S CALLING MY NAME? It turned out that there were two seats left on the 2:30 flight. In disbelief, I went hysterical crying at the gate. I think I hugged a few agents.
The plane left the gate at 5:21 p.m. I didn’t complain about sitting in the middle seat.
We arrived in Chicago, with not much time to spare. The ATS rail was not in service so we had to take a shuttle bus. It was going very slowly. By this point, I was in communication with Air New Zealand via Twitter messenger. We got to the terminal, and WE BECAME THOSE PEOPLE RUNNING FOR A PLANE. We got to the gate ten minutes before boarding began.
We made it!!!!
What an insane day. Would I raise my hand for a voluntary bump under similar circumstances again? Absolutely not.
Other than the first flight, everything went well and we had a great time in Australia and New Zealand (see, Overview: Our 21,996 Mile Trip to New Zealand and Australia).
I should add that I filed a complaint with AA over the flight delays (which are listed as mechanical), and was given 7,500 miles. It doesn’t seem like enough to me, but I probably won’t fight it.
Which brings me to one more question. As a World of Hyatt Globalist I have an offer to receive elite status with American Airlines. I was contemplating a weekend jaunt to Singapore on Finnair in order to obtain Executive Platinum status for the year. Your thoughts: Should I do it?