Friday, July 31, 2009

Thanks USAir

I can’t recall the last time, or ever, complimenting USAir, but they did right by me. We had a very bad 12 hour period. Our flight was scheduled for 7:50 PM from Pittsburgh to Savannah GA. We left in enough time, but were cutting it a bit close for the 30 minu

te drive to the airport. We also knew there was a Lil’ Wayne concert in the area, but really did not connect the two.

It quickly became apparent that we were in trouble. We entered the highway and were stuck in total gridlock. The normal 10 minute drive downtown

took an hour. We saw a car broken down in the middle of the parkway and figured that was the problem. At this point it was going to be touch and go to get to the airport on time. After the river of vehicles parted around the dead car, we figured that the traffic would flow, but it didn’t. It came to a grinding halt. We were screwed.

Checking the internet from our cell phone we learned that there were no other flights that night to Savannah. We called USAir and were told to go to the airport. There were seats available on the first flight out the next morning. If we booked that flight on the phone it was going to cost us an extra $500, but by going to the airport and going standb

y, since we missed a flight due to traffic they could get us on the flight the next day for no extra charge. We also called our hotel in Savannah and they were kind enough to cancel our room without charge.

As we worked our way through the Fort Pitt Tunnel our flight was boarded and ready to take off. There was an accident in the tunnel. I figured that was the delay, and that things would open up once we got out of the tunnel. Wrong again! Things were bumper to bumper gridlock on the Greentree side as well. We called our daughter who had left a half an hour before us to go to the Little Wayne concert. She was only a few miles in front of us. After observing a couple of more accidents we realized the issue. Lil’ Wayne is a dope smoking fiend. Many of his fans were smoking it up on their way to the show. Reactions were slowed down. Fenders and bumpers were mangled as a result, and traffic came to a standstill.

After 2 ½ hours we finally made it to the airport. Our flight was long gone. We went to the USAir counter. They were actually closed. The employee, already off duty and certainly anxious to get home after a long day at work, reopened for us and got us on the flight for the next day with no extra charge. The bottom line was the schedule was going to work out so we would arrive at our ultimate destination at about the same time as if we stayed on our original flight.

The next task was to find a place to sleep so we could make it to the gate for 6:50 boarding. We decided to pay a bit extra for convenience and stay at the Hyatt attached to the terminal. Sensing we were frazzled by the time we got to the restaurant at almost 10:00, the waitress really took care of us. She arranged for us to have breakfast delivered to our room at 5:30 the next morning so we could have coffee and some food before our flight. We also learned that Lil’ Wayne was booked at the hotel registered under the name of Mr. President. Maybe he should have chosen B. Rack.

The next morning we got up early. Breakfast was delivered as promised at 5:30. When I reached for my wallet to tip the server, it was gone. Panic set in. I looked all over the room. No wallet. This meant no credit card, no money, no ID. That meant “no” at the security, no flight, no trip. Panic morphed into a full scale anxiety attack. I went to the front desk. They didn’t find my wallet. Next I thought that perhaps I left it at home. Did I have enough time to drive home , find my wallet, drive back and get the flight. Unlikely, but what other choice did I have. As I ran to the car, I remembered I did have my wallet when I paid for short term parking and re-parked near the hotel in the extended lot. Sure enough the wallet had fallen out in the car and I found it. Relieved, I return to the hotel and overheard some airline personnel who also stayed at the hotel complaining about the Lil’ Wayne entourage that arrived on their floor at 3 AM and continued their party. I was glad they were not my crew. Who wants a pilot who didn’t get sleep and was engulfed in a cloud of weed smoke from his neighbors.

We boarded on time. The flight was totally full. Had the man at the gate not taken extra time and helped us the night before I would still be sitting at the airport stranded and the word “terminal” would have special meeting. I don’t know the man’s name, so I will just give a big thanks to USAir for kind and excellent service.

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