So, I went to Florida for two weeks vacation to visit my folks and just get away from daily life for a bit. Overall the trip was fantastic, and it was a great time. However, the travel itself sucked. I very rarely fly US Airways, I'm usually on American Airlines, but my dad had a bunch of airmiles and offered to get me the tickets for the trip, so I went with USAir. It was one of the worst customer service experiences I've had.
I was supposed to fly down on Saturday, February 17th and return on Sunday, March 4th. I made my reservations a few months ago, online. I had all the info - flight numbers, times, confirmation number, etc. My flight was around 4PM or so, and I actually (for once) left home early and got to Logan well before the flight time. So there was no hurry, everything was mellow. Until I got to the counter to check in.
I handed the guy my ID - he can't find me in the system. OK, I have a weird name, it happens. So I give him my confirmation number - that's not in the system either. Oooookay. I give him the flight numbers - they have no flights by those numbers. WTF? I had a moment where I had to wonder if I'd somehow managed to go to the wrong airline, but the doubt cleared quickly and I knew I was in the right place. So the guy is looking at me like I'm crazy, but I know I'm right, so he gets a supervisor.
The supervisor digs into some deeper level of the system and figures out that USAir had changed their flight schedule and the flights I was booked on were dropped off the schedule. OK, that happens. But how do you expect an airline to handle that? I've had it happen in the past with American, what they did was rebook me onto another flight to my destination. That's what I would really expect an airline to do. Even if they didn't do that, you think they might, oh, notify passengers so they can rebook themselves? USAir did nothing. They just canceled my entire reservation and didn't tell me. They had my email, phone, and physical address - nothing.
Of course, that was the week we had the only real storm of the entire winter, causing flight cancellations which were still cascading through the system. That meant that there were *no* seats available, on any airline, to get me to West Palm Beach on Saturday... or Sunday... Monday, there was *one* flight available. 05:45 Monday morning. Coach - my original tickets were First. If I wanted to hold out for First, it may have been Wednesday. So I took it, nothing else I could do. Of course, Monday was more typical for me - I was running a little late, so I got to the airport in enough time, but not early. I figured, 5AM, it won't be busy. Boy, was I wrong. Logan was packed, they were still processing all of the backlogged people.
I only got through on time because they were calling out specific flights to have those people jump the line to get through. And then I was one of the last people processed, and by the time I got through security they were already calling last call for my flight. And the gate had to be down the terminal, of course. So, as I'm walking, they call three names to board now or lose your seat - and I'm the 3rd name. So I speed up. Then they call someone off the standby list. Then another. Just about then I get close enough to see the gate, so I holler "I'M MEGAZONE!" - which got the gate agents attention, and kept me my seat. So I made the flight, barely. It was very uncomfortable since they had be going through DC, and the shuttle flights pack the seats as tight as they can.
Once I was there, things were fine. It was good to see my folks again, and this is probably the last time I see that house. They just purchased a new one, a few miles away, and their current home is in the market. The new place needs some work, but they'll be moving in later this year, before I expect to be there again. I had my usual tech support work to do when I visit - make sure their computers are updated, setup a few things for them, etc. - but that's fine. And since I was there for two weeks this time, and not the usual one, things weren't as rushed.
On Friday we drove up to Walt Disney World. I enjoy Disney, quite a bit, and my folks do too. We went almost every year when I was growing up, because we had relatives in Florida that we'd go visit. Now that I go down and visit them each year, it has become an annual trip for me, and often them. I also deliberately stayed offline while we were there, and focused on enjoying the parks and relaxing. We were there Friday through Tuesday, and it was really nice. The weather was good (for me a least) in the high 60s to low 70s (a little chilly for my folks). And it wasn't as crowded as I thought it was going to be, there actually weren't lines for most things. Tuesday it rained in the morning and was cloudy, so I thought it would be a cool day - but then the sun came out and it turned into the hottest, most humid day of the trip. Of course, that's the day I went to Animal Kingdom, which is naturally fairly humid because there is a lot of water and foliage which traps the humidity. So that was a sticky day, but still fun.
The rest of the time was spent pretty much doing nothing. I played around a bit online, watched TV (via my new toy - a Slingbox), and did a bunch of reading (Altered Carbon, Glasshouse, Penny Arcade Book 3: The Warsun Prophecies, and James Burke's Twin Tracks). Otherwise I slept a lot, and better than I do at home. I think partially I need to get a new, more comfortable bed, and partially because my brain could turn off, not worrying about the day, or the one to come. So it was a great vacation for me - a few days of doing something, a few days of doing nothing.
Of course, USAir wasn't done with me yet.
I don't have a working printer at home - I generally just print things at work. I used to have a printer, but I used it so infrequently that the ink cartridges would dry and clog on me. So I can't check in from home before going to the airport and print my boarding pass. However, my parents do have working printers, so I figured I'd check in online before returning. I went to the website, gave it my info - and it tells me there is a sync problem with my records and I can't check in, and to please call. Oh, great. So I call and I end up on hold listening to terrible music for 10-15 minutes. Then the music stops... oh, no they didn't. Yep, I was dropped. So I called back, after getting busy signals several times, I ended up being on hold for another 10-15 minutes before talking to someone. Apparently Sunday was the first day they merged the America West and US Airways IT systems (America West bought USAir a while back) and, apparently, it didn't go well. I was reassured that my reservations were intact, but the web based check in wasn't working. So I'd just have to go to the airport and check in. No problem, not as bad as I was thinking after my previous experience.
So my folks dropped me off at the airport and I got checked in painlessly. I was a little early, so there was no rush getting to the gate. We left a little bit late, but not too late. On the way back I connected through Charlotte. I was supposed to have about an hour's layover between flights, getting in around 20:40 and out around 21:40. We got in a few minutes late, and they didn't have any connecting info to give us before we landed, so the first thing I did was check a monitor for my connecting flight info. When I got off the plane my connecting flight was already bumped to 23:00. So I went down to the other gate, at the other end of the airport, and made sure that boarding wouldn't be until 22:30. Then I went back to the main concourse and got some dinner before the restaurants closed (22:00). Turns out Charlotte has a pretty nice airport, I think this was the first time I've flown through there.
We ended up not taking off until sometime past 23:00, by the time the boarding was done. So I got home a few hours later than planned, I got to my house around 3AM.
So, the actual travel portion of the trip was lame, but being there was very nice and I wish it could've been longer.
EDIT: Oh, I should say this. The individuals I dealt with form USAir - at the ticket counter, on the phone, etc - were polite and helpful. It was just the overall corporate fuckwittery that was the problem.