Monday, January 8, 2007

Flying troubles

Katie and I woke up yesterday at 4:45 AM to catch a flight out of Dulles bound for San Francisco, where we were to catch a flight to Shanghai. I knew we had a tight connection in SFO if 45 minutes, but I figured we would make it since our flight was early in the morning and there were no weather problems at either airport. Of course, things didn’t start out well, as we boarded our plane in Washington 15 minutes late. We then sat at the gate a few more minutes due to extra baggage. Then a 777 was held up right behind us and we took off 40 minutes late. I was still confident that we would make our flight, hoping in vain that the other international passengers on our flight (as well as my measly Premier status on United) would hold up our flight by the 5-10 minutes we would need to catch our original flight. Our hopes were dashed when a flight attendant approached us just as we started to descend for landing. She told us that we had been rebooked on a Cathay Pacific flight departing one hour after our scheduled United flight. She said it had already been done and that there was nothing we could do. We figured Cathay would be better than United, so we said okay. However, we had to go out to the terminal to pick up our new boarding passes when we arrived. We arrived 25 minutes late, with potentially enough time to get to our flight. But we went out to the terminal to get our new tickets. Our faces dropped when we realized the attendant was wrong – we hadn’t been rebooked on Cathay; we were rebooked on Air China… through Beijing. Air China is no Cathay. It’s not even comparable to United. The line was 300-people long and the clerks at the counter were ruder than employees at CVS. We politely refused our new itinerary and went back to United to complain. They got us on the same flight the next day. However, even with status, we had to ask for a manager to get vouchers for meals and a hotel stay. No extra frequent flier miles. If this were a Starwood business, I would have gotten 5,000 points, easy. We spent the afternoon sleeping and then went to dinner with my sister. This morning, we woke up at a leisurely time and got on our flight. So here we are, stuck in the middle two seats of a 3-4-3 747 headed to China. Luckily, I also got to run into an old family friend, Lynn, who has been working for Monitor in Shanghai for nearly a year. I’m sure I’ll be asking her lots of questions over the next few months. For now, my only question is what contact information to put on our immigration forms since I have no idea where we are staying once we arrive.

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