Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Like It Never Happened: In the Airline World, It's Manage The Moment & Forget Yesterday

Back at RDU Airport this afternoon no one at American Airlines knew anything about last night's emergency landing (see previous post).

And they were not too keen to hear about it, either. Last night's bad weather was followed by high winds that caused RDU to close at 11:00 AM, and all inbound flights were diverted elsewhere. Apparently, too, the chaos last night up and down the East Coast and Midwest stranded scores of people at Raleigh/Durham Airport. As evidenced by the sea of red flannel in the terminal, AA had provided blankets for the homeless there.

At least I know now what American did with all the blankets it removed from coach.

My flight's designated airplane was among those diverted, of course. And then, like most of the rest, my flight was cancelled. Again.

I was already at the airport when I found this out, having wasted another $40 on taxi fare. Oh, why didn't I have the good sense to check first? you may rightly ask.

But I DID check before I left: online in 2 places and with no less than 3 AA sources by telephone. A friend phoned at noon just as I was preparing to go to the airport for my rebooked flight to Columbus at 2:05 PM and told me that the airport was closed. So I checked the AA website AGAIN, AGAIN, and for good measure I phoned AA's Admiral Club at RDU and the Executive Platinum desk. All those sources confirmed that RDU was operating normally and that my flight was on time.

So I took my cab to the airport thinking my friend had merely heard an unfounded rumor.

Once inside security I checked again with the Admirals Club, and they confirmed that all was well with my 2:05 PM Columbus departure. And they had no knowledge or interest in last night's smoky cabin and emergency landing which scared the bejesus out of everybody on the flight.

So I went to gate C24 at 1:30 PM expecting to board, plane! Also no Columbus flight posted on any monitor there (though the official monitors in the Admirals Club had all shown my flight on time).

When I inquired at the podium about my flight I was given an incredulous look by the gate agent before he said: "Been no flights landed at RDU since 11 this morning. Thought everybody knew that. Your aircraft was diverted to Greensboro. Not sure when to expect it, but it's DEFINITELY going to be late!"

Why don't the old veterans in the Admirals Club like Margaret know this? I asked. I got a shrug in return. Kafka came to mind. Again.

"But your flight WILL operate," the gate agent said, smiling. "It's going to Columbus for sure as soon as that plane gets here from Greensboro!"

Maybe in his dreams. The flight was cancelled less than an hour later, and there are no seats on any flight to Columbus, direct or connecting, until Wednesday.

And when I asked, the gate agent knew nothing about our previous evening's emergency landing, either. Like everyone there, he was too busy fighting the fires of the moment to ponder yesterday's potential disaster.


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