This story is how American Airlines poor planning and even worse customer service almost caused me to miss my own wedding:
So, I live in Florida now but am originally from Rochester NY, as is my wife. My wife is a school teacher and I am in sales. She gets a lot more time of than I do. We decided to get married a few days after Christmas so we could save on not having to travel home twice that year. She went to NY a week earlier than me and I was slated to travel home a few days before Christmas. I left Florida fine and the weather report up north seemed mild so I didn't anticipate any trouble. I did have a brief layover in Philadelphia but I travel a lot so I know the Philly airport pretty well.
I arrived in Philly and hurried off the plane and to my connection gate expecting it to be boarding. It was not. I was informed that it would be delayed a half hour. After a half hour they announced that it would be delayed another hour and a half, then an additional 2 hours after that, for a total of 4 hours. By this time it was getting late and I knew I was in jeopardy of having my flight cancelled all together.
Shortly after midnight, after waiting about 5 hours, they announced that the flight was canceled without any additional instructions. People began bombarding the ticket counter. I hopped in what I hoped was a line and called my wife (fiance at the time) to tell her. She began crying hysterically, concerned that I would miss Christmas and the wedding, which were both still a few days away. I calmed her down and assured her that was ridiculous.
I waited in line for another hour and a half while they dealt each person's complaint. I got up the counter and didn't even really know what to do or say. The clerk explained that the flight timed out. (I later learned that they just didn't staff a pilot to fly the plane. The delays were them trying to find one.) I just asked the woman how I was going to get home. She informed me that there was a flight going to Buffalo in the morning that she could book me on and that the airline would provide a voucher for the local Holiday Inn. I had no problem with that. I called my wife to let her know what was going on. She was upset, but a bit calmer now. I headed down to catch the shuttle to the hotel.
There were maybe 5-6 other people waiting as well, but other than that the airport was deserted. It was probably 2:30-3am by this time. we waited about 20 minutes before someone decided to call the hotel. The hotel manager informed us that the shuttles had stopped running but he would see if he could figure something out. Not but a couple of minutes later, a Days Inn shuttle pulls up. Our luck, right?
He drives us to the hotel. We all pile out and head into the lobby. The first person hands the clerk the voucher from the airline and he examines it. He informs us that the vouchers are for the Holiday Inn Express, which is a hotel across town and confirms that it was not him or that hotel that we had previously called. We didn't know what to do, pay for a room here? Luckily the shuttle driver volunteered to drive us over there.
On the ride there the driver is going on about how he was already supposed to have ended his shift. He stops at a fairly deserted street and tells us we should really pay him for going out of his way to get us to the other hotel.
There was an older couple (the ones who called the hotel in the first place) who looked a bit shaken by this. They immediately paid the man. I didn't see how much, but there was at least a twenty in there. I was exhausted by this point. Not wanting a conflict, I gave the guy my last six dollars. The driver seemed pleased and started to the hotel. We arrived there, handed over our vouchers and headed to our rooms. I passed out shortly after 4am.
The morning shuttle was leaving at 9 am so I didn't get much sleep. I showered and headed out about 8:45. The shuttle arrived on time and headed back to the airport. I went up to the front ticket booth, explained the story and handed the ticket that the woman from the previous night issued to me.
The clerk looked a bit confused. "Sir, there is no flight to Buffalo this morning."
At this point pure panic set in. I asked when the next flight I could be on was leaving. She confirmed there were no available flights to either Rochester, Buffalo, or Syracuse. She suggested waiting standby to try and catch a seat of someone who didn't show. I called my wife to inform her. She was beyond consolable at this point.
I waited around the airport pretty much all day waiting to see if I could catch a standby seat. I had no luck though. At around 8pm that night I got a call. THE call. The one that would save me from this misery. My phone was almost dead and I didn't even check the caller ID when I answered.
It was my buddy Kevin. "Hey man. Your Fiance called me today."
Me: "Oh, yeah?"
Kevin: "Yeah. She says you're stranded at the Philly airport."
Me: "Yeah, I will probably not make it home for Christmas or the wedding."
Kevin: "Nah man. I'll come get you."
Kevin: "Yeah. how far is Philly from here?"
Me: "I don't know, five hours maybe."
Kevin: "Alright. I will be there in a bit."
He arrived just after 1am, with my fiance, who ran up and hugged me. I was so exhausted that I slept most of the car ride home.
Thankfully Christmas and the wedding both went off without a hitch.