It took me a long time to get back home to Tulsa… and I’ve never been so happy to see the Tulsa Airport.
Yesterday Josh and I got to the Atlanta airport at about 11:30 am. Josh had a different flight than I did, since he was expecting to be traveling elsewhere for football, but turns out they wanted him at the Oklahoma game. Being the case, he booked the cheapest ticket he could back to Tulsa from Atlanta – through LaGuardia and Cincinnati. Two connections in order to get from point A to B – what usually is an hour and a half flight. I had a single connection through Houston. We asked right away whether we could change our flights. My flight wasn’t until 6:50 pm though, and I was too early to deal with yet. Also, my ticket was an airline joint effort (Delta from Atlanta to Houston, Continental from Houston to Tulsa), and Continental had control of the ticket. Since I’m nobody with Continental, and Josh and I are both medallion status with Delta, we wanted to deal with them. Especially since Atlanta is a Delta hub.
So, we stayed on our flights, and wanted to keep our eyes open for delays… if my flight got delayed, I’d probably miss my connection. Then I’d have a good excuse to switch flights to a direct flight. So… I hung out at the airport for the whole day. It was a gloomy, rainy, gray day. I watched the board incessantly for delays.
As I sat by my gate when the flight got closer, the gate agent announced that our flight was delayed until 7:10 pm. I went straight up to her to see if she could switch me, since that was really going to be pushing it. But she left and said she would be right back. I waited, since I’d seen the line at the Delta help counters in the center of the terminal. I did call Delta’s 800 number, and spoke to an agent that told me Continental had control of my ticket. I then called Continental’s 800 number. The man I spoke to there told me that Delta now had control, so I thanked him and finally spoke to the gate agent who had finally returned a half hour later. It was now close to our boarding time, and the agent told me that all the direct flights were full. I asked her if I should go and wait by one of those gates, just in case they could get me on. She discouraged that because I would then miss my own flight, and any chance of reaching my connection. I asked what my options were if we missed my connection. She said that there was one other flight later, and she confirmed me on it (this was a lie, but I believed her, to my regret).
Josh checked with the Delta agents when he arrived in Tulsa (seems going all the way to New York is the better way to go). They informed him that the direct flights arrived later that night with several seats empty.
So I got on my original flight, with the gate agent’s assurance that I would still get home. We sat on the runway for a long time. We didn’t leave Atlanta until an hour after our flight was supposed to originally. When we landed in Houston, our Tulsa flight had already left. I said our, since there was a large number of people on our flight that had been making for Tulsa… not that 10 people on a 40 seat flight were worth waiting for…
I asked the agent if I could get on the flight to OKC instead… she first took a long time to explain things to the person in front of me. In hindsight, this was my second mistake. I should have booked it to the other terminal and tried to get on this flight. BY the time I talked to the agent, and she told me the flight was full, and tried to book on something the next day, the OKC flight (seats full or not) was too close to boarding for me to make it.
I was distraught. I had never been stuck overnight in an airport before. And Josh was still in the air, so I couldn’t ask him what I should do. After moping for a little while, I looked for a hotel, and got a reasonable price, then met the shuttle and got to the hotel.
Today I got to the airport for more interesting airline fun. I got confirmed originally on American Airlines, but Josh warned me that it’s more complicated, and it did take a long time to get my boarding passes. Finally I got them, and through security, and onto my new route… to Dallas and then Tulsa. Sigh… two days full of airports. I’m tired of airports.
What I’ve learned… when you have an alarmingly close connection, it’s better to stay in the airport with more direct flights, and get stranded there than in an airport with few direct flights and only connections to your destination. Also, it’s good to know the flight schedules, and not trust what the gate agent tells you.