Monday, April 16, 2012

Trinidad: Chicago - New Air Travel Experience

It goes without saying that I'm a United man. Unless absolutely necessary, I won't even consider another (non-Star Alliance) airline.  My options to Port of Spain, Trinidad were limited. This trip was before Continental joined Star Alliance (long before the merger).  My only real option to Trinidad at the time on Star Alliance was through London.  Love the miles idea, but for a 5 day trip this just didn't make sense.

Yes, I had to opt for a flight on American.  Good god, I know!  I hadn't flown American since I was in college and using Priceline tickets all the time (and I haven't been on American since I took this trip either).

I woke up early this mid-April morning to find 1-2" of snow and ice on the ground.  Great.  I check the flight status and all flights are on time (ahem, no one has bothered to change the status, ugh).  I hop in a taxi - and it appears the taxi driver was as surprised by the snow as I was, as half of the back seat was covered in snow and ice.  This is a great way to start a vacation.

I arrive at the American terminal and it is total mayhem. Dozens of cancellations caused hundreds of confused people just milling about.  I used the self check-in Kiosk, check my bag and head through security.  Since I'd have a layover of 2+ hours in San Juan, I decided to buy the Admiral's Club Pass.  It was a day pass, not a single use pass like you often see now.  I had this pass and a delayed flight, so off I go to my first Admiral's Club experience.

The club was larger than I was expecting and my favorite part, it had a pretty good view of the tarmac.  There were two people delivering drinks and giving us flight updates -- they were very attentive.  The club was pretty empty too, surprising considering all of the cancellations that day.

My notes from the day indicate that over 250 flights were cancelled in the morning alone - including every OTHER flight to San Juan.  We were delayed two hours.  Which means if we kept this schedule I would have a whopping 20 minutes to connect to the last flight of the day to Port of Spain.  I was a bit nervous as I had no idea how big the airport was in San Juan (HA!).



As I made it to the gate and found a plane full of nervous people checking their watches and commenting on how they will be missing their connections.  At least we are all in the same boat, eh?  As soon as I walk to the boarding area, I hear my name being called from two separate areas. Upgrade maybe??? No, two separate friends that I met from two different charitable organizations with their wives heading out on vacation.  Small world, eh? While it was great to catch up with these people (and introduce them to each other) I think I would have preferred the upgrade.

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