What am I doing in Atlanta? Am I not supposed to be in Lisbon, Portugal? Well, thanks to United Airlines, the earliest I can arrive there is tomorrow. I wasn’t supposed to fly to Atlanta at all.
When we left Phoenix yesterday for Newark, New Jersey, where I was to catch a second flight to Lisbon, the pilot announced that we would have to fly around some storms, so he had taken on extra fuel. I was able to follow the flight on a map on my cell phone. We flew very far south along the Mexican border and then the Gulf coast.
About the time we approached Georgia, the pilot came on the intercom again to announce that we didn’t have enough fuel to reach Newark after all and would land at Atlanta for refueling. That was to take an hour, and we were asked to stay on the plane.
The hour’s delay stretched to two, and we were asked to deplane. Then we got the go-ahead to take off and got back on the plane. At that time the captain announced that the cabin crew was “illegal,” which I assume means that they had already worked too many hours. A new crew was sent for. They didn’t arrive, and the flight was cancelled.
The gate agent re-booked me to fly today over Washington, Dulles, and I am sitting in the United Club in Atlanta waiting for that first flight. She also gave me a number to call to get a hotel room at my expense, but they had no rooms, due, I believe, to the fact that hundreds or perhaps thousands of people were stranded in Atlanta.
I was also told that I had to pick up my checked luggage, but what was I to do with a large, heavy touring bicycle? I stopped by the check-in counter and asked what to do with the bike, and a very polite agent named Mr. Camacho told me to leave it and gave me a voucher for a free hotel room plus two meals. It was already after midnight, but I did get six hours sleep in a real bed instead of on the airport floor.
I picked up my bike this morning, found a luggage cart that someone had abandoned, and wheeled the bike first to the check-in counter and then to the over-sized luggage screening. And, here I am hoping nothing more goes wrong and that my next blog entry is from Lisbon. I also hope that the bicycle arrives in one piece. Luckily, it has an old steel frame and is not one of those new carbon-fiber jobbies.
As a last word, I will add that I am getting quite sick of flying United Airlines.