I was supposed to catch a flight from Ottawa to Newark, and then from Newark to Sao Paulo on a Thursday … but nature had other ideas … tornado warnings disrupted flights into Newark.
United changed my ticket to bypass Newark - traveling instead to Montreal the next morning, on a Friday, and catching a flight to Houston … where I’d connect to Sao Paulo.
I caught an early morning flight to Montreal, then cleared customs again, and camped out in the lounge for an afternoon flight to Houston.
Except that flight was delayed. Against my better judgement I took it anyway … and arrived in Houston a half hour after my flight to Sao Paulo had departed.
The gate agent gave me a booklet of coupons … for a hotel room, for food at the airport, for a shuttle to the hotel, and a note about the same flight to Sao Paulo the next day … on a Saturday.
My luggage wasn’t on the belt. Just me and a few Spanish speaking families from Panama. Luckily I know some Spanish - and we agreed that our luggage wasn’t coming. It was late and there was no one to ask about it. We all just took the shuttle to a hotel.
Next morning I was kind of surprised to learn that I wasn’t booked on a flight to Sao Paulo that night at all … I was on standby.
This was the point I felt like I was in a groundhog day. I genuinely felt that something fundamentally karma related was going on. How could it be so hard to connect to a flight to Sao Paulo?
George Bush airport! Surreal. I found a space cow!
And started questioning life choices. I thought about the song ‘The Joker’ and the line ‘Some people call me the space cowboy’ - I was feeling knocked out of orbit, trying to start this amazing corporate service corps assignment … but being held back …
Fortunately, a United customer service agent took pity. She found a flight from Chicago to Sao Paulo that evening. I told her that I’d do anything.
So, I caught the flight to Chicago … and we even boarded on time. It looked so promising until we were delayed 30 more minutes.
For a while I thought that I’d arrive late in Chicago and be sent to another American city the next day … but we made it on time :)
I caught a flight to Sao Paulo! And after first trying to get here on a Thursday, I finally arrived on a Sunday!
I have to be honest … every time I’ve ever flown from or to Canada with United Airlines, there has always been a problem. While I know there were storms this time, I can’t help the feeling that these days it seems fine for their flights to arrive late. It has turned into a normal thing.
I have to fly back home with them … and I wonder what lies in store. After this, I’ll be more resolute about not flying with them again.