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Monday, February 23, 2009

Dear American Airlines

Dear American Airlines,

Could you do something very special for me and just fly ONE of your planes on time? Please? Pretty Please? Pretty Pretty Please w/ a Cherry on Top?

Four flights on this trip, and not a single one on time. Just think what all those corrupt critters in congress who give you all this money would say about such lousy performance if we were talking about Amtrak instead of American Airlines. Usually you manage to hit 25 percent on time schedules, but this time you did not even make that low bar.

I have a six-hour drive back to Kirksville tomorrow morning, and I really wanted to get some sleep tonite. We were supposed to be back home by now, but here we sit on the ground in Chicago. Just close the door and letís go. Iím exhausted. I just want to sleep.

I hate flying

Wiren says he canít say no, and I have the same problem. And not saying no gets me into constant travel troubles.

Iím on my way to Penn State New Kensington to give a talk on Ecuador. Itís a fairly tight schedule. I fly out Sunday nite, give a talk on Monday, and return Monday nite so I can drive back to Kirksville Tuesday morning in time for my afternoon classes. Or at least that is the plan. As normal, American Airlines has a different plan for my life.

I go to the airport and everything seems to be on time. When we are ready to board, they inform us that there is a mechanical problem with the plane and there will be a slight delay with the departure. The delay slowly stretches into more than an hour. Before boarding the plane, I ask whether I will be able to make my connection in Chicago. Sure, no problem, they tell me. Thank goodness for long layovers.

We arrive in Chicago an hour late, but still in time for my next flight. But, of course, we canít pull up to the terminal because another plane is at our gate. So, we sit on the runway for almost an hour, thereby causing me to miss my connection to Pittsburgh.

These types of missed connections happen to me way too much. I donít understand why they happen. They know the flight is late; can they not make alternative arrangements for a place where to drop us off so we can make our connections? I pay good money for a specific flight schedule, and then I hardly ever travel on what I originally booked. If only they would hold airlines to the same standards that they do Amtrak...

So, the next flight to Pittsburgh is tomorrow morning and would get me there after my talk at noon, which is rather meaningless. The agent at the counter is sympathetic and helpful, and rebooks me on an United flight that leaves tonite. Iím happy to have a flight tonite, but I hate United. They are the airline that makes the class distinctions most obvious in society. They have their upper-class seating, of course, but then in coach they push the seats together in the back of the plane to create more leg room in the front so they can charge more for those middle-class seats. I, of course, get stuck back in the lowest class where we are smashed like sardines. Not much fun.

United is on the other side of the OíHare terminal from the American flights, so I have a long trot across the airport. When I get to the United terminal I find out that this flight is delayed as well. They have a very useful sign: Reason for delay: aircraft delay.

Airports are such inhumane places, and they could do such little things that would make these delays and such so much easier (hello? electrical outlets for our laptops? and maybe free wifi as well? I donít want to pay as much for one hour of Internet as Iíd pay for a month at home). So, Iím writing this in Chicago, but who knows when Iíll be able to upload it to my blog.

And I spend too much of life driving in weather as well. I gave a talk on Thursday at Purdue University North Central and spent the last hour driving thru a blizzard on I-80 through the lake-effect snow on the south side of Lake Michigan. And it looks like Iíll run into the snow storm we had yesterday in Pittsburgh. Oh boy fun. Iím tired and wish I were asleep.


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