Lucky’s not so lucky sleigh: delayed flights, crying babies, and annoying seatmates

I have a somewhat different approach to most when it comes to holiday travel, in that I prefer to travel on holidays to avoid the crowds and get cheaper flights, instead of around them. My family is fine with it, and this year it has resulted in me flying on Thanksgiving and Christmas (what can I say, I enjoy spending those days with my AAmerican family as well).

I’m actually heading back to Seattle right now, flying from Palm Beach to Chicago to Seattle.

My flight out of Palm Beach was scheduled for 3:20PM, and I got to the airport at around 2:15PM, to leave a bit of extra time in case security lines were long.

Fortunately they weren’t, and I was at the gate before 2:30PM. At about 2:40PM, about 10 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin, the gate agent announced a delay… of three hours. As a matter of fact the plane hadn’t even left Chicago yet. I wasn’t going to get angry at the agents and I’m totally understanding of delays, though I do wish they would have announced it a bit earlier, as the delay wasn’t a surprise. My parents were driving home from Palm Beach to Tampa after dropping me off at the airport, so I was stuck at the airport.

Meanwhile the agent makes an announcement saying to form a line at the podium if you want them to check on alternative connections. I got in line while also looking at options on my phone, mainly because I wanted to ask them whether the crew was originating in Palm Beach or coming in from elsewhere (in which case I was concerned they may be timing out). The guy in front of me in line was a Platinum member. The gate agent looked at alternative options to his final destination, and there were none for tonight. So he gives the gate agent “five minutes to call the Platinum line and find another flight” for him or “there will be consequences.” Classy.

I sit in the terminal for a good three hours, knowing it’ll be well after 6PM when the flight leaves, given that the inbound aircraft wasn’t due in till 5:55PM. Fortunately Palm Beach Airport has free wifi, so the wait wasn’t that bad.

It’s 6:30PM by the time we take off, shows an arrival time of 8:50PM, while my connection would be at 8:40PM, leaving me a connection of negative ten minutes.

Also, as luck would have it, there was an infant seated right in front of me. I’m totally fine with babies in first class, though it drives me nuts when parents don’t put in any effort (regardless of which cabin they’re flying). In this case the baby screamed the whole flight, and the mom just laughed about it.

Unfortunately the baby was actually the nicer of the two noises in my vicinity, as I had a seatmate that wouldn’t shut up. For whatever reason I’ve had a hard time getting over jetlag since getting back from the Middle East, and I’ve been getting up outrageously early and going to bed early as well. As a result I was tired by the time I was flying, given that I had been up for 16 hours. I wanted to nap, so I put on my headphones. Unfortunately my seatmate didn’t get the hint. The pair of seats across from us were empty, so I explained I’d move over there as I wanted to lean against the window to sleep (I was seated in the aisle next to him otherwise).

That still didn’t stop him, he continued to have a conversation with me from three seats away. At that point I literally closed my eyes, put on my headphones, and pretended not to hear him. I don’t want to be rude, but sometimes you just don’t feel like talking.

Then when we deplaned he gave me his business card and said if I’m ever looking for a job to call him. What the…?

Fortunately we made up a bit of time in the flight, and got to the gate at 8:36PM, meaning I had a four-minute connection. I ran for my connecting gate, H15, which was just a few gates away, and made it there while the door was still open. The agent scanned my boarding pass, though the machine made the same noise you get on “The Price is Right” after you lost the showcase showdown. She looked at it more closely and said “wait a second, how the heck did you make this? We assumed you’d misconnect as your aircraft doesn’t show as even being on the ground yet.”

So by some miracle I made it. I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed tonight, and I’m actually excited not to have any travel planned… as of now.

Hopefully those of you that celebrate had a calmer, less talkative and scream filmed Christmas. Ho ho ho…

Filed Under: Travel
  1. Bummer (for me) had you missed it and stuck in Chicago would have loved to drive over (Lisa & Me) and take you out to breakfast at a Walker Brothers before you trip home ( could come early on your mid-east time )! Next time Ben and welcome home! – Rene

  2. Glad you made it Ben. Did they give up your seat and give you another, or did they hold your seat for you to SEA?

  3. @ Delta Points — Thanks for the offer, Rene!

    @ Carl — Thanks! I think they actually offloaded me but there were still open seats in first class with no waitlist, so the same seat was available.

  4. @Lucky- wow, that would never happen with UA. The last time i remember open seats in F on a CPU flight was GUM-KIX and back. Glad it all worked out. Have a good rest!

  5. Hey Ben,

    Just want to say we miss u in Tampa! I know you miss it too.

    Everybody I know that lives in Florida for a whole gets sick of it, BUT they always one back.

    Keep up the good work.

    I don’t want to publish my name but I’m the one from the sushi restaurant.

  6. @ Despina — Thanks, same to you!

    @ Carl — It’s kind of surprising, I’d say a good 25% of the time there are empty seats in domestic first with American.

    @ Srt-blue — I’m sure I’ll be back sometim. Thanks for the message!

  7. Though I like to travel, Christmas is one day to be with family. What a day. No trips to the Middle East for me til next month. Yay!

  8. I wonder how can you write all this and sleep at the same time all the way to ORD ? MAKE the tight 4 minute connection at ORD and as of now are still in the air for another 1 1/2 hour to SEA ???

    WEIRD ????

    sounds like a lot of drama

  9. Hope you get a chance to enjoy some of the holiday events in the Seattle area. I’m bummed we didn’t get to see more before we flew out for Christmas.

  10. People have different styles of parenting – perhaps letting her child cry is what works for this one. 😉 As a relatively new parent, I have a lot of sympathy for parents now – could be teething, stomach ache, etc that is causing the baby to cry and no matter what a parent does it won’t stop. And no, I won’t give Benadryl to put my baby down.

  11. I have enjoyed reading about your trip to the UAE. I just got back after spending a week there last Sunday and I am also struggling to get my sleep schedule back on track. I flew United GlobalFirst and Lufthansa Business on the way to Dubai and I am so jealous I didn’t get a free upgrade to Emirates like you did. Keep those reports coming!

  12. Did you ask your family to drive 7 hours on Christmas day so you could fly out of PBI instead of TPA or MCO? (3.5 hours each way)

  13. @Carl;
    exactly what I was thinking.
    I cannot believe he made his parents drive him to Palm Beach ON CHRISTMAS DAY !!!
    I will sometimes fly to a different airport to save money but then I find my own transportation.

    Ben; are you serious ???? Your parents must adore you. Driving you around the state; racking up all the miles on their cards so you can use them.

  14. @Carl – he was in PBI for Christmas. So no, he didn’t.

    @Rami – again, he was already in PBI. Calm down. And Lucky supports himself, thank you. But us readers appreciate the trolling.

  15. @ RRK — Huh? It took me 10 minutes to write this post after takeoff from Chicago to Seattle. What am I missing?

    @ Carl — C’mon, I’d never do that! We spent Christmas in Palm Beach with my brother’s in-laws, so that’s why we were down there.

    @ Lantean — Beyond me. He worked in marketing.

    @ Rami — Seriously?

  16. “I sit in the terminal for a good three hours”

    no vip lounge for you this time?

    bummer, except for the people watching in the terminal.

  17. @Bumbles – I don’t blame you for not wanting to medicate your kid to keep him from crying. I would, however, blame you if you just let your kid cry and scream, and did NOTHING about it, as this parent apparently did.

  18. lucky,

    Just wanted to touch on the late updates from the gate: I wonder if dispatch back in DFW was trying to find an alternate aircraft from a different station to fly your flight. When you have a massive delay, you can’t always assume that the aircraft and crew will continue on the original assignment.

    Which leaves the gate in a quandry, assuming dispatch keeps them informed. I’m not sure which is worse, constantly changing information or no information at all. Both leave the pax with the impression that the airline doesn’t have its act together.

  19. Lucky, were you wearing your “lucky” sweater? The one that makes strangers want to buy articles of clothing off your back, offer you jobs, and who knows what else?

  20. Lucky,
    Wish I knew you were stuck at PBI…would’ve loved to had you over for Christmas dinner. Enjoyed meeting you at FTU in LA earlier this month…I learned a lot from you.

  21. In my relatively few travels, sometimes the seatmates have been the most intriguing part of the whole trip. This guy sounds like an interesting bird.

    That said, I hear though you if you weren’t feeling well.

  22. i wish all airlines would have the facebook app that klm has… i would actually very much like to pick my neighbors when i travel alone.

  23. Earlier in the year I also had an assumed misconnect when arriving international flight was late and landed just 20 minutes before my domestic flight (in a different terminal). The gate agent was surprised when I arrived at the domestic gate just as they were finishing boarding. I ended up causing a minor delay to the domestic flight as the airline had already rebooked me onto a later flight. There were about 20 connecting passengers with the same itinerary as me – I was the only one who made it.

  24. I’ve had the overly talkative job offerers as seat mates before. Definitely annoying. I even had one approach me at Walmart of all places.

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