Flights From Hell

Many people asked about my travel experience last week to Phoenix.  Since I’m back home and in a better mood about it, I thought I would share.   We flew US Airways.

We got to the Philadelphia airport perfectly.  There were no delays, the weather was good and I had decent coffee.  I felt confident we would get to the Phoenix on time.

When does anything ho according to plan though?

Our flight was delayed in Philadelphia because the pilot wanted to get rid of fuel.  After waiting on the runway for an hour, the vehicle that was supposed to remove our fuel never came…so we left.  We waited an hour for nothing.

Once we arrived to Atlanta, and we saw our connecting flight leaving.  Our first flight pulled into gate D21 and we looked over at Gate D23 as our next flight pulled away.

Tim, myself and 4 other passengers missed our connection by about 5 minutes.  The Atlanta airport staff printed us a piece of computer paper to get on the flight two gates down to Charlotte.  We were told we would go to Charlotte and connect to Phoenix that way. I boarded the flight with no boarding pass and just sat down in an empty seat. I felt like a plane ride bandit!

We got to Charlotte and they finally printed us another boarding passes to Phoenix.  This travel left me no time to fuel accordingly for a marathon.   We got into Phoenix around 3 am Eastern Time and had been traveling for 14 hours.  Our travel time was supposed to be 7 hours but was 14. 

After all of the change in flight connections my bag had actually made to Phoenix too.  One look at my bag and I wish it had not made it.

The bag look like it had been thrown from a 2 story building or a plane had run over it.  The exterior of the bag was ruined as well as multiple items (including exploding gels, two tattered tops and brand new leggings from lululemon).  It left me needing to find a bunch of new things the day before my second marathon. It ended up being about 250 dollars’ worth of damage including the ruined bag as well as a couple articles of clothing.  The photo doesn’t do the damage justice, the bag which was new was torn apart.

suit case

Do I think the delayed flights, longer traveling and being awake so long affected my marathon?  Of course I do.  I have mentioned several times I’m a high maintenance sleeper.  I don’t do well on little sleep and I don’t thrive on being awake for lengthy periods of time.  Four days after the entire experience, I’m still finding myself catching up on sleep.

Edit to add: I sent an email March 3 to US Air/American and have not received a response.

Question for you:  What is your worst travel experience?  

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    1. Right now after we talked face to face to employees they told us there was nothing they could do.

  1. I think they will pay for the damage and hopefully refund your money but that is absolutely ridiculous. I had a similar experience flying them a few years ago when I went to Missouri and I swore I would never fly them again. I always take Southwest now because I know they’re reliable…and significantly cheaper. Of course it had to happen to you for your marathon, too. It’s never at a convenient time. I really hope they have good customer service and are able to at least replace everything that was damaged!

  2. That story is exactly why I hate traveling. If I don’t have to check a bag, I won’t. I’m sorry the travels were horrible, and I hope they make it right!

    1. I wouldn’t have checked my bag if I didn’t have fuel/gels in there! I try not to check bags either.

      1. I’ve thrown my gels into my little liquid baggy and have never had an issue. Just a thought for next time!

  3. That is terrible! I hope the end up paying, its crazy for them not to (not to mention terrible customer service!). Definitely not the way you want to spend the day before a race either, I’m like you, high maintenance sleeper is a perfect way to put it! I’ve had several missed flights (not my fault) and ended up sleeping in airports in London, Rome, and Minneapolis. If you ever have to sleep in an airport, I hope it is in London. Hope you get better news on your bag soon!

  4. That’s the perfect way to describe me as well, a high maintenance sleeper! This travel nightmare makes your marathon all that more impressive. I can’t wait to see how you do in more ideal conditions!

  5. A lot of times face to face won’t do you any good. Make a complaint via social media and/or send an email to their customer service. Usually one of those 2 ways will work. Delta reimbursed me after traveling to England and not having my bags for 24 hours…they sent a check for $125 when I proved I had receipts that I had to buy clothing to wear. Maybe its just Delta, but I would try those methods with US Airways.

  6. First off, congrats on getting through this without having a major meltdown and hey, you had to deal with a LOT of crap before your marathon and you still held it together and did well. The days before a race, I’m just so mentally fragile. I would’ve freaked. Most people would’ve freaked.

    I agree with Kristy G on the social media complaint. Sometimes that is best because other people see that you are complaining and it looks bad on the company (or in your case, the airline) and is bad marketing. If you contact them directly, that’s not out in the public so much as social media.

    I too try to avoid checking bags but I can see where you had to, travelling with gels and also you would need to pack your marathon gear as well as clothes for the days before and after. It’s not right for the airline to do nothing with your bag and maybe having the photograph will help too.

  7. My worst experience was on a US airline as well – Continental – and I will never, ever travel with them again. It was supposed to be a quick and fun weekend trip with one of my best friends, but the entire weekend revolved around me trying to find my lost bag and speaking to countless staff who basically said there was nothing they could do. It was so disappointing and I didn’t have the energy to file a formal complaint because I could tell it would be a waste of energy. Sorry that you had so much bad luck the day before your marathon. I’m glad you still managed to have a successful race (and PR!) and I hope your recovery is going well!

  8. I feel your pain Hollie but way to have a heck of a marathon stll on top of all that. I’d be devastated for the lulu leggings…. those are like gold.
    When I flew down to El Paso to see J before he deployed I decided to stay an extra day. I told them he was my fiance and they waived reschedule/cancellation fees–I thought I hit the jackpot.
    Fast forward to my return trip home that Monday. Got to airport at 130pm for my 3pm flight. 7pm rolls around and I had two delayed flights. 930pm rolls around and we were told we had a flight. 11pm rolls around–cancelled. I was either going to a) stay in the el paso airport or b) get a rental car and drive to denver with 4 strangers.
    J ended up getting me a hotel room on base. Fast forward again to next day and my first flight was great. Then I land in Denver and see that my connecting plane is delayed, then cancelled 30 min later due to no flight crew. I was in a 90+ person line with United customer service. Meanwhile, the same plane ends up flying to Knoxville with a crew.
    J’s dad and stepmom were flying out of Denver on Southwest so they bought me a plane ticket home. I got into Milwaukee at 1130pm and was in Madison the next morning for a 430am helicopter trip for work.
    Cherry on top–I was sicker than a dog AND had just said bye to J for 9 months.

  9. They better be paying for all of your things. ESPECIALLY THE LULULEMONS! Do they not understand the importance of party pants?

    But seriously, I know you suffer from anxiety (like myself) so I can only imagine how bad this whole experience was for you. I’m sorry It had to happen before your marathon 🙁 All of the stress + lack of sleep probably did a toll on your body. At least you are home in one piece!

  10. BLAH hope you filed a dispute with them- that is the worst!! Worst travel experience I ever had was making international flights- got stranded in Copenhagen during a snow storm..I think I ended up being away for 36 hours…TERRIBLE. And then when I finally got to where I was supposed to be it took 4 more days for my bag to show up haha! Annoying. Glad you are back safe tho!

  11. YIKES, sounds like a day from hell. You still did awesome at the marathon though, so congrats!

    I rarely ever check a bag….and after hearing this story I’m going to continue to do so…..

  12. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry to hear this! If I had been in your situation I probably would have run a 5 hour marathon, so the fact that you still PRd is incredible. Congratulations!!

    On the way to Port Canaveral for a cruise, our flight was delayed the exact length of our layover in LAX, so we ended up sprinting through the airport in socks (no time to put shoes on after security). We were misled by several officers about the distance and actually had to argue with the flight attendants to let us on the plane – they didn’t want to allow “latecomers”, even though it wasn’t our fault. That still pales in comparison to what you went through, though.

  13. Personally, I would have gone on a social media RAMPAGE if the stuff INSIDE my bag was torn. There is absolutely no reason for that. I hate traveling.

  14. Oh man, that is awful. I never check luggage anymore. If it’s a long stay, I’ll mail flat rate to the hotel sometimes. Sleep definitely plays a role in my race performances as well, glad you are starting to catch up!

  15. This sounds truly like the flight from hell! I’m so sorry you had to go through this. My last trip was really bad because a computer broke on the plane and we sat on the runway for five hours while they installed a new one. Will the airline compensate you for the damage to your suitcase?

  16. They do have a responsibility for damaging luggage. You’ll probably have to do some arguing on the phone as they’ll claim they are not responsible for “normal wear and tear.” Clearly, this exceeds that. Also, check your luggage manufacturer, some (like Briggs & Reilly) fix or replace damaged luggage no matter who damages it. Let us know how it turns out.

    1. The photo doesn’t do the outside damage enough sadly. The entire bottom was ripped open!

      1. Ugh!! That is so awful. It really is amazing you were able to run so well.

        Sorry, Hollie! Hope it all works out.

  17. Yikes, that is definitely not the tone that should be set before a big race. Also, I am totally a high-maintenance sleeper too. Eight and a half hours is ideal!

  18. Christmas 2013 our connection in Minneapolis kept getting delayed. We were supposed to fly to Grand Forks at 11:00 am. Finally at 3:00 pm they cancelled all flights out. The airport was crazy, people sleeping everywhere, stores completely full of people. They said there would be no flights out for DAYS because it was too cold to fly. I had already missed three days of school. My family ran to get a rental car before there were all gone because our house is about 7 hrs by car from Minneapolis. We got a rental car for $1100 to drive from Minneapolis to Grand Forks, where our car was. When we went to get our luggage, we were told that our luggage was still in Florida, but could be delivered our house in a few days. We were irritated but left in our rental car. An hour later the airport called and said that our luggage was in Minneapolis and that it couldn’t be delivered, we had to pick it up. So we drove back an hour to get it. We got there and were told there was a mistake, our luggage was in fact still in Florida. My dad had some words with the workers and we left, after wasting over two hours. We drove to Grand Forks to drop off the rental car and then get in our car to drive an additional two hours home. We ended up getting home at 2:09 am. The next day I went to school, and five days later our luggage showed up on our front door.

  19. Hi! I suggested in a tweet that you sue them for damages to your luggage, clothing, etc, and even add on damages to your psyche caused by this horrible situation.
    Reading the above comments from all your friends, I say again, SUE THE BASTARDS!!
    Don’t let them get away with this, Hollie!!
    Before deciding, I would contact a lawyer—many offer FREE consultations!—and ask their advice.
    I’m almost 100% certain that if you offer graphic details, and show them the photos of your luggage, they will take your case and sue.
    But if for some reason you decide not to, know this: By detailing what happened in this blog, and by receiving all these positive comments from your friends, this travesty is now known to all!
    This airline will suffer the consequences of this open knowledge!!
    I’m with you, Hollie!1
    And P.S.—-you’re going to break 3 hours in the Marathon in your next race!!!

    1. Thanks Aaron, your support and advice is always appreciated.

      Breaking 3 hours would be nice. 😉

  20. You should title your blog with the name of the airline and something along the lines of being a poor flight. Blog traffic comes mostly from the title and maybe if they know there’s bad press about them, they’ll replace the cost of the damaged articles (I just read your comment on another post that they said they can’t do anything). I would have been SO irritated! I flew home from Australia into Newark in Dec and after like, 17 hours of flying and almost a whole day of traveling, my last flight was canceled! We spent all night at the airport and the ONLY food available was at ONE kiosk with snacks (like, packaged snacks, not fresh). We ended up getting out in the morning after trying to sleep in a freezing cold airport while we starved. Jon and I had a bad flight back from Italy too, where Delta didn’t schedule enough time for our flight layover (we were early landing too), so we stood in line for 2 hours and then had to get shuttled to La Guardia for another flight and almost missed that one too! I hate flying already so those things make it even worse!

  21. That is awful! How could your bag even get so ruined?? I never check my bags because I don’t trust other people to handle them. I pack less if I have to so I can avoid checking.

  22. Oh wow… I think I would have lost my sh*t. I actually feel pretty lucky because the worst thing that’s ever happened to me is my flight being delayed for about 30 mins, but I’m constantly paranoid that something is going to happen. Are they going to compensate you for all this? Is there anything you can do?

  23. Wow I hope you can get some sort of reimbursement, but at least everyone was safe and you still PRed in the race. My worst travel experience was going to Ohio with my family. My dad refused to stop for three hours while all of us had to use the bathroom. It was TERRIBLE! Needless to say, I have not gone on a family trip since.

  24. Un.Real. I am so sorry you all had to deal with that! I am stressed just reading this much less living it!

  25. That completely sucks. I don’t understand what they are doing with our luggage all of a sudden. It was typical to have some wear and tear before but now it’s downright DAMAGE. It really bothers me since I’m paying a stupid fee to check it in the first place. I hope they cover the damage!

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