If you’re living in the U.S., you may have heard about today’s airplane travel adventures already. If you, like me, were lucky enough to have a ticket on American Airlines to go somewhere today, you probably reached your destination much later than you were intended to get there. Or you might still be at the airport waiting on your plane to arrive from somewhere else. I am lucky to be at my destination, although I arrived late.
Apparently some sort of massive computer system shut down/failure caused the problem. Even the back up systems failed. If you watch the video I posted, you’ll learn that it was a software issue. Originally we were told it was the reservations system that went down and that’s what caused the problem. But once I started chatting with fellow passengers, I found out that the problem was much worse, since the airline had taken full flights and brought them back to their gates then unloaded the planes. Or made them sit on the tarmac for hours.
I got off very lucky. When I got to DFW, I was surprised to see so many people everywhere in the middle of the day. Usually it’s super busy first thing then again at the very end of the day. I didn’t think much of it and grabbed some lunch. Hindsight being 20-20 I should have noticed that there was a disproportionate number of day-drinking business attired folks, not just the usual retirees, college kids, and vacationers who know that it’s 5 o’ clock (or noon) somewhere.
My first real indication was at the gate. When it was time to board, the staff was more stressed looking than usual. Lots of shouting into phones. Staff on their cell phones, especially smart phones. At first they made it sound like it was just a gate change to another terminal. Ok. Get on the little train and walk to the new gate. Once at the new gate, more stressed staff who explained to us that the computers were down and they weren’t sure that this would be our final gate and to sit down and wait for further instructions.
After a couple of hours, it appeared that things were up and running again. Kind of. Back on the little train to another gate. After an hour, get on the plane. Then sit on the plane until they could fill it with more irate (and honestly irrational) passengers. I 1000% get that it’s annoying to have your expectation of leaving on time and getting to your destination as promised dashed (remember my last travel tale?), but if it’s a system wide computer failure, you’re not going anywhere fast. Yelling and being a jerk will not get the planes moving faster. I sat back and watched some people at their finest and many at what I hope was their lowest since they are really rotten S.O.B.s if they can get much shittier than they were to the airline staff.
Once on the plane, grumpy passengers almost rioted when the wifi didn’t work. WTF people? Just a few years ago, planes were the only place a business traveler could really turn out and unhook from the Matrix for a few blissful hours. Today people acted like it was the end of the world. First world problems, flying public. Read a book. Look at a magazine. Talk to the people you’re sitting next to. I did and met a DJ from Finland who played at Cochella last weekend. I checked out his YouTube video from Cochella and decided that I’ll follow him on Facebook (too tired to go to his midnight show tonight). See, talking to strangers can be fun!
Being nice to the flight attendants and not complaining earned me a freebee, which I’m sure you know makes whatever you’re eating or drinking taste even better. I felt so sorry for them because they had nothing to do with wifi, computers, the flight delays, etc., but yet from the way they were being treated you’d think they pulled the plug on the Internet out of spite. Sheesh.
Once we got here, I hopped in a cab, told the driver I wanted to go. First, we ended up where he wanted to take me, a hotel with the same name but in a different part of town. I had to nicely, yet firmly tell him that I gave him the correct address and it was his responsibility to take me where I asked and that I would not pay for his mistake. Needless to say, we had a difference of opinion which quickly ended up in my favor when I told him I had written his license information down and would be happy to call in a complaint if we didn’t head off to the right hotel immediately. I also suggested that I could easily get out of his cab without paying and find another.
I arrived at my lovely hotel. Checked in. Checked in at home. (Gs are fine, but needy. Bruce was puttering.) Then since it was so late, but I hadn’t had dinner, I called for room service. No answer. The second time I called, I finally got someone. The voice told me that the hotel restaurant was being renovated (code for shut down by health department, perhaps?) and would be out of service for the next two days. No dinner food. No breakfast food. She could give me some phone numbers of local places that could deliver or addresses of places in walking distance. Um, ok. Wish they would have said something when the reservation was made. Or maybe when I checked in. Good thing I had a snack on the plane. I’ll hunt for coffee in the morning. City this big has to have a Starbucks (or if I’m lucky, a local mom and pop cafe) around the corner.
Whoever suggests business travel is glamorous lies. It has fun moments (free drinks, Finnish djs), but also annoying/scary ones (transportation situation). And like any other day that’s out of whack (mercury in retrograde again?), it’s over. It’s already tomorrow at least in this time zone. I’m still on Dallas time, so I’m going to call it a night and wake up ready for a fun day. A day where I get to see a bunch of people I usually only talk to on the phone. I like these folks a lot so I’m pretty excited that I get to spend a whole day with them. Then after that, I’m going to get on another plane and head for one of my favorite cities. I’ll give you a hint: it’s in North America, requires a passport, and I lived there for a while. So tomorrow’s going to be awesome.