Air travel will make road warrior out of anyone

Filed under: Opinion |

Airline magazines often have stories written by frequent fliers, “road warriors,” they call them. The stories related tales of travel snafus that just about anyone who flies on even a semi-regular basis can relate to.

Last week, Lon Matejczyk and I were in Baltimore for three days for a conference for the editors and publishers of business-to-business newspapers.

Lon flew out of Denver and had a rather uneventful trip (of course he also paid about $8 more for his ticket than I did). I flew out of the Springs and had one of those “road warrior” worthy adventures.

My flight from the Springs to Minneapolis-St. Paul was fairly standard.

The real fun began on the second leg of the trip as we approached Baltimore. The weather in Maryland wasn’t cooperating, so we spent some time flying in circles. We spent so much time that we ran low on fuel. The pilot announced that we would be landing in Philadelphia to gas up.

However, there also were problems in Philadelphia, so we backtracked and stopped for gas in Pittsburgh. After 30 minutes on the ground, we were taxiing to what all of us expected to be a takeoff and a 49 minute flight to Baltimore. Suffice it to say that we were a bit disappointed when the plane parked and the pilot told us that we’d be in Pittsburg for awhile because Baltimore-Washington International Airport had just be closed because of the weather.

We eventually taxied back to the gates (some type of medical emergency, no one ever said exactly who, or what). Then the minutes started turning to hours, four of them to be exact. The crew did their best to make us a comfortable as possible. But I’m not sure why we couldn’t have waited in the terminal; nobody seemed to have an answer for that.

A customer service representative did eventually board the aircraft. We each received an apology and an envelope. One of the items included in the envelope was a domestic complimentary phone card – five minutes of free long distance. “Please use this card to contact a friend/associate/family member to notify them of the delay,” the card read. It had a disclaimer however, “*Not For Use Onboard Aircraft.”

I still haven’t figured out how we were supposed to call someone, or what help the card was since we were stuck inside the plane. But hey, I guess it was a nice gesture and made the folks in customer service feel better about themselves.

Our packet also contained an amenity coupon with a “$5 Meal Option” that was “valid for purchase on airport property only.” I can assure you that I wasn’t the only passenger seeing a pattern developing. It’s tough to buy food when you’re stuck on the plane. And let’s be honest, what type of meal can you get an airport for $5? Maybe a Snickers and a Coke.

The final perk that we received for our inconvenience was a travel discount certificate for $35 off roundtrip fare of $200 or greater. What I found confusing was that the small print said that the discount was “not valid for transportation.”

We finally did make it to Baltimore.

On the return trip I was lucky enough to get bumped in Houston and pinballed around George Bush International Airport and the state of Texas before getting back to the Springs. But that’s a “road warrior” tale for another day.

Managing Editor Mike Boyd can be reached at 634-3223, ext. 206 or Mike.Boyd@csbj.com.