Sunday, June 30, 2013

IF KING JOFFREY BARATHEON, FIRST OF HIS NAME, WERE AN AIRLINE ...  After a weekend with the girls on the Cape, I was supposed to fly from Boston to Philadelphia at 6:30 this evening on USAirways.

However, USAirways regretted to inform me, via email at 2:15pm, that my itinerary had been "modified due to an unexpected flight change," but that I had been booked on "the next available flight. If the new itinerary is not acceptable, please contact," etc. Well, I knew the next USAirways flight to Philadelphia left at 7:30pm, okay ... no wait: according to USAirways, what I was supposed to do was take a 7pm flight to National Airport in DC, then a 10:05pm flight to Philadelphia. No, that was not acceptable.

I called USAirways, and the agent explained to me that, sorry, my flight had been cancelled due to weather issues and both the 7:30pm and the 5:30pm flights were full (presumably, with others already re-booked), and this really, truly was the best they could do. But I was entitled to a full refund, if I wanted it.

So, I checked with JetBlue, which recently had begun the BOS-PHL route, and they did have seats available on their own, not-cancelled 6:10pm flight. Booked, and I tweeted.

To which I received two responses:

I did DM the info to USAirways; not until an hour later did they tweet back that it was, indeed, my only option. By the time I got to Boston, the weather situation in Philadelphia was such that my 6:10pm JetBlue flight was now set for 8:45pm; annoying, but, hey, there's a Legal Seafood at the terminal, and at least it's a direct flight.

But I noticed that JetBlue also had a 4pm flight still delayed because of the weather (scheduled departure: 8pm), and I figured, what the heck, ask, and indeed the JetBlue gate agent believed they could accommodate me as a stand-by. At the same time, they announced the ground stop in Philadelphia had been lifted early, and within a half-hour I was on the plane. We took off at 7pm, landed at 8:30pm in Philadelphia. I tweeted my thanks; they tweeted back:

Postscript: JetBlue's second flight did leave at 8:45pm and arrive in Philadelphia at 10pm. The scheduled 7pm USAirways flight from BOS-DCA landed at 9:08pm, about a half-hour late. The subsequent DCA-PHL flight, scheduled to leave at 10:05pm and arrive in Philadelphia at 11:02pm, is at this moment scheduled to depart DCA at 11:58 this evening and arrive in Philadelphia at 12:55am.

USAirways has told me that my refund is being processed.


  1. Wow. I'm just glad you made it back without TOO much drama!

  2. janet8:32 AM

    Just so I understand, because I don't use Twitter to communicate... It's not that you conducted business via tweet, right? You re-scheduled using more traditional means (phone, in person) but the companies in question responded to your publicly tweeted mention of their services?

    Is actual business being conducted via Twitter?

  3. Adam B.8:45 AM

    That's correct; I booked the JetBlue ticket online. USAir offered to provide additional customer service via private Direct Messages, but it was (a) untimely and (b) provided no better options than the phone representative had.

  4. Adam B.8:54 AM

    Question raised by a friend: should I be complaining when USAirways cancelled the flight early enough for me to make other plans?

  5. BarbL1149:52 AM

    It seems like everything worked out and I don't see the USAirways did anything egregious other than having full flights, so I agree with your friend.

  6. Adam B.9:59 AM

    I should have made this clear: my flight had been cancelled.I wasn't bumped.

  7. Here's my question: Why didn't you book on JetBlue in the first place?

  8. Oh, US Airways, how awful you are! I'm glad to live in a place where that's not my only choice because every single time I've flown them, something ridiculous has happened (flight cancellations out of the blue, lost luggage for half a trip, connecting flights that left early). It's unfortunate they bought American, but in Chicago, I've still got Southwest as an option.

  9. Sophietje10:43 AM

    I've also had the worst flying experiences with US Airways. I had a connecting flight out of Philadelphia that was delayed because of weather, or something. They said at the gate that they wouldn't be leaving until after 10pm (3 or 4 hours late), and all of the monitors said "Delayed", so I went into the bar to have a beer and watch a game. When I returned to the gate at 9pm to check on things, the flight had left 30 minutes earlier. When I pointed out that even the monitors still said "delayed", they said that it's out of their control. They leave when the controllers give them clearance. I ended up staying a hotel on my dime. :(

    I will always avoid whenever humanly possible!

  10. andrewraff11:59 AM

    Order of operations for flying domestically*:

    1. Does Virgin America fly the route you want to travel?
    +If yes, fly Virgin America.
    -If no, go to #2.

    2. Does JetBlue fly the route you want to travel?
    +If yes, then fly JetBlue
    -If no, go to #3.

    3. How do you feel about Southwest's approach to boarding?
    +If you love it, go to #4.
    -If you hate it, go to #5.

    4. Does Southwest fly the route you want to travel, or a similar route, where their use of secondary and tertiary airports is no less convenient than the other airports?
    +If yes, then fly Southwest.
    -If no, go to #5.

    5. Do you have status on American, Delta, United, or USAir?
    +If yes for one airline, go to #6
    -If no, go to #7.

    6. Does that airline fly the route you want to travel?
    +If yes, fly that airline.
    -If no, go to #7.

    7. Your flight is going to suck. Pick the cheapest or most convenient direct flight.

    From a northeast-centric approach. I don't know how Alaska Airlines falls in this system. For the major carriers, where you live probably makes the most difference in which one sucks the least. USAir has such a big presence in PHL, that it has the most direct options. For EWR, United (even though the merger seems to have resulted in an airline that's substantially worse than both Continental and United.) For NYC (LGA/JFK), Delta (and either the merger with NWA or just revamping the terminals at both airports, has vastly improved the experience of flying Delta.)

  11. Nigle from Cameroon12:04 PM


  12. Nigel from Cameroon12:07 PM

    This is all accurate. Well done. I have Platinum AA status: I dislike AA but we have agreed on a system of mutual tolerance that works for both parties most of the time.

    The USAIR/AA merger is a bit terrifying for us AA frequent flyers. USAIR will no doubt take a crummy airline and make it even worse.

  13. My husband's question: Why didn't you book on Amtrak Acela Express in the first place?

  14. The Pathetic Earthling12:21 PM

    I have a very strong preference for Oakland International over SFO (Lionel Wilson Terminal, represent!) and a slight preference for SWA over Jet Blue, but for a fairly infrequent traveller such as myself, I think this is pretty much right.

    Also, although I have no discernable fear of flying -- and, indeed, hold a private pilot's license (albeit unused in 15+ years) -- there's something about what happened to Alaska 261 (Jan 2000) that just has given me a horrible phobia of Alaska.

  15. Adam B.12:21 PM

    1. Because I wasn't sure that I could make the 6:10p flight without shifting my ferry time sufficiently early to gut my ability to spend time with Lucy and Phoebe yesterday. (As it turns out, I got to Logan at about 5:25.)

    2. More expensive than flying, by at least $50, and between a five-hour train and an hour-long flight ...

  16. My husband loves the train (as do I). I did point out to him that we've never done the train from DC past New Haven.

    Re: the expense: one thing to consider is that posted Amtrak fares include all taxes and fees, while posted airline faresdon't. If you're checking a bag each way, those taxes and fees can easily add $50 each way. US Air may still have been cheaper, ,but....

  17. bristlesage12:55 PM

    Airfares shown online are now required to have the taxes and fees calculated as part of the ticket price:

  18. Sophietje1:19 PM

    Is your phobia because of something specific about this crash? Or does any crash do it? Only curious because I had the same issue with flying in and out of Buffalo after "our" crash a few years ago (when I plane fell out of the sky.) So my phobia was restricted to when we were flying in the same airspace as the previous crash. :/

  19. I'm with Adam. I LOVE the Acela between DC and NY (or Philly to/from either), but when you're heading to Boston the calculus shifts dramatically in favor of flying, especially given the prices.

  20. Nikki Guntz7:44 PM

    I had the worst time trying to get back to Logan from Pittsburgh on USAir a few summers ago. My 11am direct flight cancelled (and not emailed until about 45 minutes prior), I seemingly "had all day" to get back--I wasn't working until the next morning. Sure enough, I'm rerouted through DCA on three stand-bys (last one guaranteed around 9pm). First one is slow getting in from PHL, so I'm on the second one and manage to get to DCA by like 4:30pm. Rescheduled my connection to the 5:30. Home free, right? Boarding is stopped in the middle thanks to a nasty thunderstorm with lots of lightning. That blows over, we get everyone on board, and then taxi out to wait in line. Having waited about 45 minutes already, the plane decides it's a good time to light up some hydraulic indicator...and we taxi back. They let people off for food/restrooms with the caveat that we "stay close by" and "this'll be a quick fix." We ended up all deplaning, finding a new plane that had been "put to bed" for the night, fueling that one up, reboarding, and getting in the air after 9 (people seriously cheered at wheels up). Doing circles over Providence waiting to get down into Boston made me think I was going to be late for my bus back to NH, but was like 25 minutes late, and it was in the 50s at Logan that night (I'm in a t-shirt on the curb waiting). So much for being home for dinner...

  21. The Pathetic Earthling9:38 AM

    No, not any crash, oddly. But a friend's cousin was a USCG diver who worked the wreck and he might have had a bit much to drink at the friends wedding. Suffice it to say that I'd rather my body not be recovered in such an event.

  22. Duvall12:11 PM

    The title of this post seems a bit off. Capricious acts of cruelty and weird psychosexual fixations are really more of a Southwest Airlines thing.

  23. Nigel from Cameroon12:26 PM

    Blame the state of Alaska (or the airline)? Let's blame the state.