Five States in One Day

It was supposed to be a pretty straightforward trip to Paducah, Kentucky, originating in Newark with a long connection in Chicago.

We started the day in New York as we do every day, but we had to cross the Hudson River, into New Jersey, for our flight departing Newark. A classic “I-95” rainstorm, running up the entire eastern seaboard, delayed the incoming aircraft by over two hours. That, in turn, delayed our Continental Airlines flight to Chicago and our long two-hour-plus layover turned into a very risky connection. Although we ran from our arriving gate to the Paducah gate, we missed our United Express flight. We were automatically rebooked on the last flight of the following day, which would put us into Kentucky a full day after than we had planned.

Sarah insisted that we not lose the entire day so we asked if we could be rerouted on a United flight to Nashville, and Sarah’s family would pick us up and drive to Kentucky. The agent promptly rebooked us and issued boarding passes for a flight to Nashville.

The new flight required an overnight stay so we asked if we could get vouchers for a hotel. Since it was the Continental flight that caused the misconnect, we had to ask them for accommodation. Continental doesn’t have much of a presence at O’Hare so it was a bit of a challenge to find someone, but we eventually found someone at the baggage claim office. The Continental agent obliged us and handed us complimentary hotel and meal vouchers. Thanks!

My experience with weather delays and missed connections is pretty limited. It only happened once before, when I flew on a different airline, and I was offered a discounted room, which is an airline’s standard practice. I am fairly certain that because our Newark-Chicago flight was late due to weather, we were not entitled to the hotel and meal vouchers, but I suspect that elite status might have helped in this case.

In either case, Sarah and I made the best of it. We used our meal vouchers for the Tortas Frontera at the B terminal at O’Hare and had one of the best breakfast tortas east of the Colorado River. (Note, if you have one of these $12 vouchers, get a breakfast torta and a coffee.) It also worked out because while we were at O’Hare, a reasonable one-way fare from Chicago to Los Angeles became available. Since I was using some travel credit certificates I received in September for giving up my seat, I had to redeem them in person at the airport. It would have been very difficult to redeem had we not been at O’Hare.

Although it was unfortunate that our plans turned out a bit different from we had originally planned, it helped to keep our cool and ask politely for help. I hope everyone remembers that this holiday season before screaming at an agent.

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