A more “typical” Thanksgiving travel experience

I should’ve kept my mouth (fingers??) quiet about the relative ease of Thanksgiving travel on Thursday.  Sunday made up for it in spades.  Certainly some of the problems we experienced are just things that happened, but the troubles were definitely exacerbated along the way.  Ultimately we got home safe, which is the most important part, but the 4 hour delay and various missteps along the way don’t make me particularly keen to travel with American Airlines again.

The day started with an attempt to catch an earlier flight.  Sure, not a highly likely event on Thanksgiving Sunday, but the flights had seats for sale, so there was a chance.  We got to the airport in plenty of time, made our way through security and made our way into the Admirals Club to wait out the standby list.  When I asked at the counter they said no chance.  And we missed the flight, but only by one position.  In talking to another agent after missing the standby I learned that apparently our standby status was mis-coded by the agent in the lounge.  Apparently we should’ve made the cut with room to spare. 

Missing that first flight, combined with weather in St. Louis and New York meant no standby to be had. Fine, we’ll just wait for our original flight times.  At least we got decent seat assignments out of the deal. 

And wait we did.

Our flight eventually left St. Louis two hours late for Chicago.  That shouldn’t have been too much of a problem as our connection was well delayed, too.  Right up until we boarded in St. Louis.  They managed to pull out a spare plane and crew to get the Chicago-Newark flight slightly back on time.  We still had plenty of time on our connection and eventually started boarding the flight in Chicago with expectation of a departure only two hours late.  Not horrible, but we didn’t miss our connection, and the flights to LaGuardia were much, much worse.

And then we sat.  And sat.  And sat.  About 30 minutes after scheduled departure for the flight they finally made an announcement.  Apparently the replacement crew that they had found for us actually wasn’t at the airport, and the pilots were over their FAA maximums for flying.  Eventually they found another set of pilots, but that took a further two hours.  We finally departed just over 4 hours late, including a bit of a wait while the taxiways around O’Hare were overcrowded by the volume of planes trying to take off at 11pm, all several hours later than they should’ve been.

Yes, flying through O’Hare was a mistake, one that I really try to avoid as often as possible.  In this case I should’ve just paid the extra cash for the flight that didn’t involve Chicago.  And flying on Sunday probably wasn’t a great idea either.  Bad weather in both Chicago and New York certainly didn’t help the situation.  Still, this is a pretty good reminder of the pain that can come with Thanksgiving weekend travel, and the way an unpleasant experience with a crew can bias someone badly against an airline for future flights.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. All this coming from a nasty cranky jerk-off that did nothing but start problems from the minute you sat in your seat. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were missed coded for your standby list on purpose.

    I experienced your flight problems from Ohare to Newark and you were NO first class passenger. Your coat was packed in the over head and you chased every person looking for storage away so not to bother it. Then you demanded information from the fight so all around could here then followed up with a fight with the couple in front of you because you wanted to cross your legs and not allow the person in front of you recline. You were so rude that the flight attendant had to come talk to you and tell you were selfish. He should socked you in the face.

    Do you think that you are entitled to more then the next person just because you blog or went to a fancy school. It’s so easy to pass judgment, maybe you should look in the mirror.

    Let me give you a bit of advise. First, start respecting other as you would like respect. Second, if your going to start trouble don’t yell your name and company to a car service for pick up so that people can trace you through all your .net, blog and linked in stuff.
    It’s people like you that make things worse then they have to be.

  2. Actually, my coat was barely wedged in on top of a couple other bags. No one was blocked from putting a bag overhead because of that.

    Yes, I asked the FA why we were delayed? I though that it was a reasonable question. After sitting on the plane for almost an hour with absolutely zero communication from the crew I didn’t think it inappropriate to ask what was going on.

    And, yes, I was upset that the guy slammed his seat back into my knees. Given his bulkhead seat and unlimited legroom his insistence on impinging on my measly 31″ of space is hardly an upstanding move.

    And I have no problem with people knowing who I am. If I did I wouldn’t write about myself online.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. No thank needed.

    You can trust I won’t be following your blog and it seams that no one else does since there are no other comments.

    Your response only confirms that you are a jerk off with excuses!

    Next time I hope someone does hit you for your big mouth Mr Toughguy. Maybe you shouln’t have ran off the plane like a sissy. His girl could have taken you.

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