Flying To Las Vegas On A Friday…

Last week I wrote a post entitled “My First Long Delay In A While.” I was flying from Philadelphia to Toronto and had a four hour delay due a mechanical problem on the inbound aircraft. I wasn’t frustrated by the delay as such, but rather by the complete apathy on the part of the front line employees.

But more than anything, what I took away from the experience was just how smooth my travels have been lately. Nowadays most of my travel has been longhaul, which seems much less prone to delays than shorthaul flights to/from the United States. Prior to that delay, I really don’t remember my last extended delay.

I guess I jinxed myself, because I had a huge double-delay on Friday. It of course wasn’t a big deal, but turned out to be quite amusing, so I figured I’d share.

I was scheduled to fly from Newark to Dallas to Las Vegas. My Newark to Dallas flight was delayed by a couple of hours because one of the flight attendants called in sick, so they were waiting on a reserve flight attendant to show up, which was going to take at least two hours.

Fortunately I had a fantastic Admirals Club agent who quickly rebooked me on another itinerary through Chicago, which was actually scheduled to get me into Las Vegas earlier than my original itinerary — awesome!

My Newark to Chicago flight arrived early, so I was ready to fast on my flight to Las Vegas and enjoy a delicious dinner upon landing.

Newark-to-Chicago

Until I made it to Chicago I hadn’t considered the weather situation, and about an hour after I arrived a thunderstorm rolled through the area. The aircraft for my flight to Las Vegas was coming from New York LaGuardia, and it ended up diverting to Madison, Wisconsin.

American-Diversion

It sat there.

And sat there.

And sat there.

And sat there.

The flight from Madison to Chicago only takes about 20 minutes, but the weather wasn’t improving.

It wasn’t just our flight — flights to just about everywhere were delayed, and American seemed to be building up a mini-hub in Madison with all the diversions.

Chicago-Delays

Sure enough the inbound flight finally took off from Madison at around 6:30PM, and made it to Chicago by around 7:15PM.

American-2

The ground crew was good and they turned the plane around pretty quickly, and at 7:45PM boarding began.

Now, anyone want to guess what happens on a flight to Vegas on a Friday night that’s delayed by five hours?

If you guessed “people freaking lose it,” you’d be right.

There were some intoxicated passengers aboard that were complaining and being aggressive about the delay, and eventually four cops boarded the plane to remove them.

Chicago-Police

At this point the captain came on the PA to say something along the lines of “ladies and gentlemen, we realize you’ve had a long delay and apologize, but your crew has been here all day as well. You need to leave your issues off the plane, because as you can see we’re having to remove some passengers.”

Then they removed a few other passengers. Eventually 11 people were removed from the flight. There were a few people in first class that were pretty drunk and belligerent as well, and the guy behind me said “this flight is like Ferguson for white people.” I wanted to kick him in the nuts for that comment, but also had no desire to be the “12th man,” so let it be. šŸ˜‰

The flight was then further delayed because they filled those 11 empty seats with standbyĀ passengers.

We did eventually make it to Las Vegas, about five hours late. Given the situation, I think the crew did a great job.

Chicago-to-Vegas

Of course hindsight is 20/20, and looking back it seems I should have stuck with my original routing through Dallas. Even if I misconnected and took a later flight, I would have still made it to Vegas nearly three hours earlier.

Newark-to-Dallas

Dallas-to-Vegas

Anyway, certainly not the easiest travel day, and I guess I jinxed myself last week when I notedĀ how smooth my travel has been lately.

It never ceases to amaze me how people think they’ll get away with being abusive on a plane. It’s 2014, and yelling at your flight attendant over a delay will get you nowhere. While I’ve seen people removed from flights well over a dozen times, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dozen at once

Comments

  1. Sound like some people decide to start Friday Funday little too early šŸ˜‰ and are you going to write a blog on AUH pre-clearance circus ? Tomorrow I’ll be at AUH to witness for myself!

  2. First mistake was going to ORD… that place is a cluster F most of the time. Flying through there for years I have learned that you can not win with ORD ever… no matter what time of year. The RJs that fly between Madison, GRB, ATW and CWA are always delayed, rarely ontime and weather completely rocks the schedule all the time. When I fly to GRB, i tend to not even bother taking the connector flight from ORD to GRB because its so bad. Its easier and quicker to drive a car most of the time.

    As for flights inbound to Vegas from other cities.. i know SFO to LAS and LAX to SFO.. the passengers are little more “experienced” on going to Vegas. I have taken those flights a ton, and never an issue.. other than some hookers heading to work for the weekend or even night, then fly back.

    In the midwest, they are all “excited” for their once a year trip to Vegas… and the midwest.. they love to drink.. lots. The airport bars are like tailgating for the big game… and the big game is Vegas!

    Have fun in Vegas!

  3. Being removed form the plane is exactly what should happen to these people. No need to inconvenience others further. Hopefully, they were arrested, and not simply removed from the plane.

  4. @Mike- you’re really in no position to determine punishment since you weren’t there. Maybe simply being thrown off the plane was appropriate.

  5. Adding standbys to replace those who were removed, after a crazy delay, seems like AA was just asking for trouble. I get that from the airline’s POV you want the seats filled – and there were less options for those people, but man I would n’t want to be one of the new people getting on to that plane while everyone else glared at me.

  6. ELEVEN PEOPLE WERE KICKED OFF?! That’s incredible. I mean, I get it. I HATE BEING DELAYED… but if I must be delayed, I’d rather not be delayed sitting on the tarmac… but ELEVEN!!!! Good call on not being #12.

  7. Hey Lucky, here’s a post idea: what happens after you get removed from a flight? Are you rebooked on another flight 24 hours later? Is your ticket cancelled, money refunded, and told to get out of the airport? What if you’re midway through a multi-segment itinerary? And what about checked luggage?

    I think if you’re kicked off a plane in this day and age, chances are you deserved it and then some, so I don’t have any sympathy for those 11 people. But I’m picturing them all standing back in the gate area looking at each other, and am wondering what happened next.

  8. surprised you haven’t had much experience with this kind of wx-fueled chaos in your earlier days, especially being from south florida. i used to fly ex-LGA and JFK for work about 2-3 times weekly and during the summers, all bets are off due to thunderstorm activity. cells can pop up in minutes that send all the inbound traffic diverting to bangor or logan. it can be hell sitting on the tarmac during seemingly endless ground stops or waiting at a gate with 500 people trying to get any tiny semblance of information on when your inbound aircraft might arrive. i swore off delta after a few particularly terrible incidents and fly AA only now.

    anyways, par for the course during the summer. (although here in NYC it’s been a surprisingly mild one.) add in the drunk amateurs on their way to vegas and well, at least you had free entertainment. beats watching COPS.

    happy travels!

  9. @ Ben — I think it totally depends on the circumstances, and it’s entirely at the discretion of the supervisor whether you’re still fit to fly or not on a later flight. Interesting topic, though!

  10. @ Kbulo — To be honest this is my first time in Vegas in a really long time, so I don’t really have a “good” strategy. I’m just checking out the M Life properties this time.

  11. I am smart enough to realize the flight crew and flight attendants have no control over the flight being late so there is no need to take it out on them for this reason. If their attitude sucks, which it does way too much of the time then they deserve it. I have flown American only 4 times in the last 4-5 years and ALWAYS they are nasty to the passengers. Maybe they could take some classes at Starbucks or something and learn about efficient and polite service.

  12. @Lucky Hit Lotus of Siam for sure. I live in town fyi and my favorite restaurant by far. Delmonico is another nice choice, although a lot more expensive.

  13. Welcome to the insanity of flying in the Midwest. Which has really become worse. Likely caused by global climate change. ORD is horrible with RJ flights. It really doesn’t matter what the time of year. Snow, freezing rain, thunderstorms, wind, fog. Bad weather is a constant here. That’s why I avoid ORD at all costs. A connection thru ORD is very likely to turn into a missed connection.

  14. I’ve flown in and out of Chicago every week since may, and haven’t had any problems.

    For those of you who pass judgement and hope the people who were kicked off “get what they deserve”, who are you to judge?

    The airlines bring it on themselves. Endless delays with no information, cramming seats and packing flights. The airlines don’t treat people with respect, so I don’t know why they think passengers will treat airline employees with respect.

  15. I hate ORD, there is nothing I hate more than being stranded there. I had a routing of ORD-YOW-LHR earlier this summer and was stuck both preboarding and then again on the tarmac for hours barely making my connection. (btw YOW for AC has amazing ground crew who will shepherd you through Canadian Immigration in no time, not only for me but for everyone including non-prem).

    Even though I fly premium most of the time and have the mileage status on UA to aid my adventures through ORD, I still avoid it like the plague. I moved to Chicago 2 years ago and since then have reluctantly flown Southwest for almost all my domestic US travel, just because it flies out of MDW and not ORD.

    Listen up any airline- I will fly anyone out of MDW just to avoid ORD.

  16. Ben,

    I have a theory on business travel flights – you dance with who brung yah i.e. Don’t try and rebook just wait it out and stay with your original flight.

    Thursday night the 5:15 had a broken radar so was delayed 2x and some folks panicked and with much screaming and yelling and frantic calls to the chairmans preferred line, they managed to rebook onto my flight, the 8:15.

    One guy had made such a scene he had to beg the flight attendant to be let on.

    Long story short the 8:15 was delayed as well and as a result the original 5:15 got in half an hour before the 8:15. If had they just relaxed and not panicked, they’d have gotten home 30min Earlier and without the screaming, yelling, begging and threat of arrest.

  17. coins – isnt the real lesson here that it was kinda, sorta, actually the AAngel’s fault? http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2014/09/05/american-admirals-club-aangels-still-exist/ … I mean not sure they did you a solid. maybe they had good intentions while doing you a ‘favor’ by being ‘proactive’ but for starters if they weren’t a noob, they woulda known how bad ORD is for connections and wouldnt have recommend you take this routing. though I suppose maybe that falls on you as well for bein such an experienced traveler and making a rookie mistake šŸ˜› … also if they were a bit advanced or pro TBH, perhaps they woulda bothered to actually look up the weather forecast for the day and made a reconnecting decision based on that info.

    but yeah good reminder of never counting your chickens before they hatch. and that not all good-intentioned favors are actually helpful for you.

    p.s. imagine if no AAngel was working that day at the AC desk. or perhaps someone was in a bad mood/not willing to proactively accommodate you on a ‘better’ connection. I’m sure you woulda posted a huge rant about how AAngels DONT exist anymore lol while complaining about how you got to LAS 3 hrs late (sticking to your original itinerary)… never having known the alternative, which if you had taken (and did in this scenario) that you’d end up being delayed even further. ahh the universe has a funny way about it!

  18. Rookie mistake!!! Never, ever connect through ORD. ORD only if it is your final destination. Chances you will spend the night there are huge. I would take any delay somewhere else rather than connecting in ORD.

  19. @ Neil – so you’d rather your standby didn’t clear and make a later flight?

    @ John – yes, the Earth’s climate has been changing since its inception.

  20. I have lots of experience with Vegas hotel options. Depends how nice you want to get. I like being in center of strip as I play poker tournaments at Wynn,Venetian,Caesars,Bellagio. Best bang for the buck is the cheaper Caesars Entertainment options:Ballys,Harrahs,Linq in that order. I can write more if you like. This is the first time I ever replied to a post. Mike.

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