Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What to do when you miss your flight

I was supposed to leave on a plane to Seattle from Portland at 5:35AM, but my friend and I managed to miscalculate the drive (I didn't realize how far away the airport was and I didn't know that she was convinced my flight was at 7). So there we were, in a frantic race against time in downtown Portland during freaking rush hour. My wonderful friend drove as quickly as the universe allowed. Meanwhile, I pressed my iPhone to my left ear in an attempt to either a) stall the very on-time flight or b)rebook at a price I could afford (which, after a long trip to Canada was not a hefty sum #starvingcollegestudent).

Step 1: Call a Delta Representative as soon as you realize you may miss your flight.

I called at 4:00PM and asked for a "representative" on the virtual hotline (what I actually put forth was "Talk to a real person") and was redirected to be put on a call-back wait list. Delta called me back 10 minutes later.

With my Seattle connection at 9:55PM, it was feasible to drive to Sea-tax with a good cushion before boarding time. However, the representative told me that the moment I do not step foot on the Portland plane, Seattle is no longer considered my connection, but would be recorded as my first flight. As a result of this deviation in my itinerary, I would be charged a rebooking fee and the fare difference. That's an additional $570 to the $535 I'd already spent on the round trip ticket.

"What I don't understand is why I have to pay the extra fee. I'm going on the same flight!"

"I'm sorry, but this is the procedure. Because you missed the Portland flight, it is considered a flight change."

"But I can't afford that," I pleaded. "I'm just a college student and I really just want to get back to school."

She put me in a long hold because she was on hold herself to speak with a Delta supervisor to see if there were something she could do to help.

She told me that her supervisor needed to hear the reason behind my missing the flight. My friend suggested I pull the "flat tire" card. (This didn't work for another lady I met later at the airport who'd also  missed her flight. ) But I told her what actually happened: miscalculations and Rush hour traffic.

Luckily, the supervisor was nice enough to waive the $200 rebooking fee for which ever flight I decided to rebook for.

Nevertheless, I tried to get to my Portland gate. I got stuck in security at 5:30. While frantically  putting my laptop in a separate bin and scurrying though the metal detector thing, I recalled the other converaation I'd had with the representative. What does "departure time" really mean? American Airlines' definition of "departure" time is basically the time half the plane is boarded, so I had to ask.

"Does 'depart at 5:35' mean the plane is finishing boarding?"
"It means the plane is departing..."
"So is it like taxiing... Or in the air?"
"...it means the plane has left the airport."

Basically, by the time I got through security, my friend who went to find parking saw my plane fly away. Kudos to Delta's punctuality.

I got to the gate 4 minutes after departure time and received a snarky remark from the man at the gate desk when I asked if my flight had departed. "To answer your question, yes your flight departed," he finally retorted after asking for my name and pounding away at his keyboard.

Though his reaction was jerky, the Delta representative and supervisor had put me in a good mood. The ladies at the help desk (which the delta gate man snarkily replied was "on the other side of security"-- cue my brain screaming NOOOOOOOO I have to go through that AGAIN?!) found a flight at $367 to Atlanta which would get me to Syracuse roughly the same time, and had only one stopover while my d flight had two. They also accepted my $200 fee waiver that had been imputted into the system by the Delta supervisor. So $167 was not too shabby. Thanks, Delta (:

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