Sun 13 – Air Canada strands us in Chicago

BronwenWeeGo.jpgSo after a long day of running around in circles we’re completely stranded in Chicago, with no way to get to Seattle for the Summit tomorrow.  So now you’ve got the headline you can choose whether or not to hear the day’s saga.

This morning I work up early..couldn’t sleep and packed up our things ready for our flight from Montreal, through Toronto to Seattle.  Wandered downstairs, checked out and had a nice breakfast in the restaurant to notice it snowing outside! So we mosied over to the Montreal airport as we were way early for our 3pm flight.  We checked in to both our Montreal and Toronto flights (boarding passes and all).  Must be a full flight on the Toronto to Seattle leg as we aren’t seated together.

We find our gate and chill for a few hours till our flight leaves. We leave on time and arrive on time in Toronto.  Here we have to go through US customs, quantine and pick up our bags and put on the conveyor to our next flight.  As usual, I get picked out for the “not so random screening” and they swab my camera bag.  I swear they regret picking on me everytime when they work out how many compartments the lowepro bag has.

So we finally get downstairs where we can look up which gate to go to as we’ve got 20 mins till the flight leaves.  We rock up at the gate as the last passengers are going through. 

Us: “We’re here to board the flight to Seattle”
Air Canada lady: (with a perplexed look) “We’re done, everyone’s on the plane and accounted for”
Us: “sorry? we have boarding passes and our bags have been checked through”

Still not convinced she assures us they have no record of us on the flight..looks us up and says we’ve be shifted to tomorrow’s flight.  Not impressed, we need to get in tonight so we’re there for the start of the MVP summit.

Air Canada lady: “The plane is completely full, let me see what i can do…..I can put you on a flight to Seattle through Chicago with United”
US: “Yes please”.

We get our boarding pass to chicago and a Flight Interuption manifest for United Airlines that we are to exchange for a boarding pass when we get there.

So we jump on the 6pm flight to Chicago, thinking we may never see our luggage again.

1/2 way throught the flight to Chicago, the steward gives us a message that the United flight is full but we now have seats on an Americal Airlines flight and to check at the service desk when we land.

We land, go see the lady at the desk who knows nothing about the American airlines flight and confirms we have “reservations” on the United flight and sends us off on a bus.

We go across the airport to the united flight, where the United guy says we don’t have a reservation on his system, and the flight is full and suggests we go back to Air Canada.  So back on the bus only to find the lady isn’t there any longer.  So they send us back out through security to the front desk who insists that we should have gotten an American Airlines ticket..they write us up a ticket, give us a special bit of paper to go through the express queue and instruct us to run as by now the plane is leaving in 8 minutes.  So we go back through security and bolt through the airport without shoes..it’s such a long way too.  We get to the gate where the guy almosts laughs when we say we’ve got tickets.  He puts us on the wait list..the plane boards and we dip out…so he tells us we’re not his problem and go back to Air Canada.

So we go all the way back only to find the all the desks are empty.  We go down to baggage claim to find they closed 20 mins earlier.  So it’s now 9pm, the airport is pretty much empty, we have no plane, and nowhere to stay.  So we call Air Canada..they say they can’t do anything and to try and find some ground staff..so we try to go back in again..security won’t let us through.

So we go to the nearest Hilton..just through a tunnel from the airport..stand in line and hope for a room.  They have a room – $300/night.  They don’t provide toothbrushes etc. so we go to the gift shop to get some toothpaste, toothbrush and a couple of tshirts.

So after about 4 hours of to and fro (and about $100 in calls) noone can help us..best bet is to turn up early and see if we can get on a flight out. We check online and everything outta Chicago is full..tried LAX, SFO, Portland etc..nothing available. 

So after lots of conversations it “appears” that Air Canada oversold our flight and just kicked us off cause they could. Then when they try to use these share code things with other airlines it lets them buy tickets that don’t exist i.e. all the airlines just oversell all their flights.  So when we rock up, they stick you on standby and all their paying passengers get dibs over you. Air Canada doesn’t do internal flights in the US, so to get to Seattle we’ve gotta either get on another airline with one of these share codes or go back through canada.

I’m really (insert lots of emotional words) they can kick  you off a connecting flight when you already have a boarding pass and you’re not running late. No-one seems to care either…it must happen ALL the time.  A lady behind us in a queue was waitlisted on 3 different flights to seattle.

So here’s hoping we can get out of this city tomorrow and make it to Seattle eventually and don’t lose our hotel we were supposed to check into.  So who knows where our luggage is and when we’ll see it again 🙁