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Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Sun Oct 08, 2017 4:55 pm

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American Eagle (Envoy Air) Embraer ERJ-145LR
Fargo Hector Intl (ND, USA) to Chicago O'Hare (IL, USA)
December 18th 2016
0536 hours CST - 0744 hours CST
Seat 16C, Economy
N923AE, ERJ-145LR (11.7 years old)
HSTIN ZZIPR FYTTE4
https://uk.flightaware.com/live/flight/ ... /KFAR/KORD
First flight on American Eagle/Envoy Air
First flight on the ERJ-145, second overall Embraer flight.

Find the video trip report here: https://youtu.be/tDQZrtpkSKw

INTRODUCTION - BUILDING UP TO AN ULTRA LONG HAUL!
Ever since I started dating my girlfriend, she has always wanted to visit India. Come April (2016, of course...), we found a very cheap deal from Fargo (North Dakota) to Kolkata (India). The itinerary would take us from Fargo to Chicago on American Eagle’s ERJ-145 (a new type and new airline for me), while Chicago - Kolkata would be via Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways (B777-300ER/A320, a new airport, new airline and the joys of USA pre-clearance on the way back). This was a good find for a trip lasting three weeks back home! The itinerary was as follows:
AA3490 18DEC16 FAR ORD 0536 0744 E145
EY150 (AA9074) 18DEC16 ORD AUH 1205 1140+1 B77W
EY256 19DEC16 AUH CCU 1355 1955 A320
EY255 (AA9075) 07JAN17 CCU AUH 2050 0050+1 A320
EY151 08JAN17 AUH ORD 0355 0915 B77W
AA3790 08JAN17 ORD FAR 1333 1529 E145

A very convenient itinerary, too bad American are going to be discontinuing this. Speaking of convenient, the outbound was nothing close to convenient. Furthermore, these tickets were two different PNRs which would be an influential factor later on. Read on....

Being an American Airlines ticket stock, I could not block seats on the Etihad flights, and so a call to the Etihad office was in order. Or not? During my internship with IndiGo, I headed to the Etihad office in New Delhi, which was located very close to the metro station. While I did not manage to get exit row extra legroom seats on the AUH-CCU-AUH sections of the trip, I got the prized two seaters on the B777-300ERs for the long haul flights, seeing as EY are just another airline with a cramped 3-4-3 seating. Score!

This was going to be my first ultra long haul flight(s) since heading in to the USA on Emirates (DXB-SFO), and EY151 from Abu Dhabi to Chicago would be my second longest flight in terms of time, again second to DXB-SFO. Getting the two seaters was crucial. This would also be my fifth flight in a row with fuselage mounted engines.

Research on Flightradar24, YouTube and this site yielded that the Etihad flights in Chicago arrive and depart from Gate M4. This gate has a great view of the plane. Such has been my luck, I never get a decent view of the plane taking me at Chicago :(
There would be many other B777-300ERs, including those of JAL, Korean Air, and from home - Air India! I was excited about my long time in Chicago’s terminal 5.
That being said, amazing images captured by satellites for Google maps -
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WINTER WOES?
A week prior to my trip, a pretty bad winter storm hit Chicago, accumulating approximately 8 inches of snow. Similar conditions were expected to return to Chicago on the 16th/17th. We’d be departing the morning of the 18th. What happened was, an ERJ-145 flew out of Fargo the afternoon on the day of the storm, effectively being the last American Eagle flight between Chicago and Fargo, and then nothing for the next day and a half. Basically:
Day 1 (storm day): last flight between ORD-FAR, reaching FAR at 3pm
Day 2: no flights between the cities
Day 3: stranded plane in Fargo heads back to ORD as AA3490, our to be flight.

This is exactly what happened as we drove from Grand Forks to Fargo, N923AE a 11.7 year old ERJ-145 landed in Fargo on time on the day of the storm in Chicago (16th December). I was pretty confident of it being okay. LOL!
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We had a quiet day and a bit of resting in Fargo. I tried web checking in on both Etihad and American Airlines websites. This worked with no success. We just had to for check in at Fargo Hector Intl.
Indian food before heading to India? Yes please!
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Check in did not work for AA or EY, with their respective PNRs.
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18 DEC 2016 - DEPARTURE DAY, A COLD START!
The morning of the long trip back, things went off to a slightly shaky start as the taxi we had called did not show up on time. Add to that, a pretty rude driver/owner. (Avoid Taxi Joe if possible, didn’t apologize for his delay that kept us waiting outside the BnB in the snow, car reeked of cigarette smoke, and a very sketchy credit card scanner that charged so much more. Ugh.) That was the first issue, but hey it couldn’t go any wrong, could it?

BUSY HECTOR INTL. AIRPORT
Reached the airport at around 0350 hours. There were three Delta planes: two B737-900ERs to Minneapolis, and one CRJ-700 to Atlanta. Inside the terminal - it was very busy! Considering there were two B737-900ERs heading to MSP within 2 hours, and the Atlanta flight, Delta’s line were the longest. The American Airlines lines were long too, most of them were on the Chicago O’Hare flight, and some passengers on the Dallas Fort-Worth flight (departing at 0636, an hour after ours).

CHECK IN
Started with a kiosk check in - easy peasy. I had my boarding passes…err…documents all the way to Kolkata! Here’s the deal - first trip home was on AF/KL/DL which was restricted to one 23kg suitcase, same with the United part of my itinerary of my summer trip. This time however, despite being an American Airlines ticket stock and the EY flight being a codeshare, we were still allowed 2 23kgs suitcases! However, my girlfriend’s check in did not work out. And so, we joined the line.

Check in kiosk - North Dakota to Kolkata!
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Check in line(s) for AA and DL -
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That’s when we reached the second issue: it was 0400 hours in the morning, less than two hours to departure time. There was no one at the counter. However, two folk finally showed up! But every one sounded frustrated at about 0411 hours: THE FLIGHT SHOWED AS IT WAS CANCELLED! My heart stopped. Everyone’s heart stopped. Even those who were back at Fargo airport because the previous day’s flight was cancelled! However, the ground staff confirmed that it would be okay - the flight would still 'operate'.
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We checked in, and I was absolutely bummed I had to stick with a mall paper receipt of a boarding pass - my girlfriend received three American Airlines stock boarding passes. Wow, I shouldn’t have said that especially because of what followed next!
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Security was next. This was once again very crowded, thanks to the Delta flight departing. There were quite a few dogs in their bags, most of them were calm, but one chihuahua could simply not contain his excitement :D
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The departure for our flight was from gate 3, where the US Express/American Eagle CRJ-900 was parked at. This was changed to Gate 4 when the lady from check in came over and announced. There she was: N923AE in the dawn waiting to depart. Other than its overly pointy nose, the ERJ-145LR looked like a fairly sleek aircraft! No biggie about the gate change…. :) …yet.

INDICATIONS OF A DELAY?
The cockpit crew was not onboard, and neither was there any baggage trailers around the aircraft, in addition to the dark cabin.
0520 hours the young lady announced that the plane was being warmed up for the flight as it was still too cold for us to board. ‘We will begin boarding as soon as we get the all clear from the crew…as long as we get out of here today!’ every one chuckled :D Again, no issues there since we did have a 4hr26min layover in Chicago.

Walked around the terminal - the coffee shop had quite a lot of people come in because of the odd hour of departures. One of the two Delta B737-900ERs were pushed back and set for de-icing, while the second one was pulled in from the remote bay. This was N842DN, a plane I flew on from Los Angeles to Minneapolis! The Atlanta Delta flight was all set to depart, while our ground staff had moved over to serve the Dallas flight.
Delta B737-900ER to MSP, CRJ-700 to ATL.
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FAR terminal empty....
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CRJ-900 to DFW - good to see the US Airways livery, while it lasts...
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A couple of minutes after departure time, the lady once again came over the PA system and announced, with a little hesitation, that the plane was still being warmed up…hmm, something was surely fishy. At this point, they were helping out passengers with short connections at Chicago to other destinations.
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The third time she gave us the same excuse, but this time even more hesitated & flustered, while also throwing all of us in doubt as she said ‘we cannot give you a time frame at this time’. This was starting to get me worried.
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Things were going oh so smoothly at Delta....
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UA only has the one gate at FAR - for the ORD and DEN flights.
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THE COMFORTABLE TIME CUSION DISAPPEARS
I took a brief but disturbed nap… it was 0744 hours, arrival time in Chicago, but we were still stuck in Fargo, and departure (both if and when) was still unlikely. I paced around, here and there. The TSA went on their break as they had a couple of hours before the next bank of flights, so did the coffee shop as they shut off for a break as well. There were just the passengers on American Eagle flight AA3490 to Chicago, hanging around in Fargo Airport.
The sun is rising, but we're going no where...
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My friend AV gave me info that there was a United Express ERJ-145LR coming in from Knoxville Tennessee, acting as a positioning flight back to…Chicago O’Hare as UA4145. The question was who would make it to Chicago first, us or them? This birdie arrived at Gate 5 around 0822 hours.
We're blood brothers!
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We were just under three hours late, and the Dallas flight was delayed by just under 2 hours. Both American Eagle flights out of Fargo were going nowhere, it seemed like. All other (Delta) planes had departed, there was the two American Eagles, and no sign of United. The sun was up, a new day was born, but not for some of us who were awake for so long, wondering if we’d get to our destinations, be it Chicago or Dallas, within the USA, across the great Oceans, wherever it may be.

I decided to head up to the gate agents (who were at gate 3, dealing with the Dallas bound flight). They were rebooking a Chinese student through Narita. ‘Yeah, I’m not sure where NRT is…uhh I think the airport is…. *checks computer* Narita.. I don’t know where that is, you could check it up online… I think its in Spain…’ Wow, I wasn’t surprised she had no clue what was going on with the plane, either. Anyway, I gave her the details of my itinerary, and yep she had absolutely no clue what Kolkata was, until I told her its in India. ‘Wow, that’s really far!’ Yeah, I know. So how about looking at if I’ll ever make the Etihad flight, yeah?

SO WHAT WAS GOING ON?
At this point, frustrated, tensed and worried, I headed back to the gate where my girlfriend was remarkably chilled out. There was a pilot around - no, he wasn’t going to take us to Chicago but he was deadheading back to Chicago after bringing in N923AE a day and a half ago. One other passenger who turned out to be a private pilot. He spoke to the American Eagle pilot- the issue was far more serious than a very cold cabin (well, duh). Long story short, because of the very cold weather, the critical systems of the plane was frozen. Such as, the pilot’s oxygen tank, and the rest of the oxygen tank pressures were low. We couldn’t have taken off with such low pressures. Aircraft are not allowed to take off with such low levels. The pilot also said that it requires the pressure to be pumped up, something which could be done externally by a hired contractor. They wouldn’t show up for a while. Hey, but I’m glad the ground staff thought we’d fall for the ‘still warming up the aircraft’ reasoning!

And its times like this is easy to become distracted from how the aviation industry works. Its not an easy task making a plane ready to go - there is so much that goes in to it. However, I simply jumped to the conclusion as to why American Eagle did not bother checking such systems while N923AE was AOG for 1.5 days. There is definitely more than just assuming such theories, (and maybe the experts around here will help with this!) however I fail to understand why American would simply just let the plane be and cause havoc for passengers. This wasn't the first time a storm in Chicago led to the plane being AOG in Fargo.....
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The long wait meant that many passengers started walking up to the two ground staffs who had so far not done a very good job in keeping us informed. Some were furious, and start cussing at the crew. I was getting anxious. I walked up to them and tried to get some more information out. ‘Oh uhh, we checked your case with our manager downstairs, you should be good’. I took her word for it and waited. This was a huge mistake.
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It wasn’t very long till the Dallas Forth Worth Bound plane was boarding. I felt that this was not very fair - our flight was meant to depart an entire hour before the DFW bound plane, and our plane was just about being set up for for whatever anti-freeze process that it was to undergo. Again, there was something more to it, but I was obviously morbidly pissed off at the time. This flight departed at 0845 hours.
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Such was the brevity of the uncertain delays, the American Airlines website would show a revised departure time of whatever the actual time was. No one had no idea of anything and everything. Another 45 minutes passed by as most passengers looked on at the proceedings of the anti-freeze.
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BOARDING
0930 hours. 3hr54min since departure. Boarding! All passengers were bunched around at the gate, but a zone wise boarding was enforced anyway. Of the three boarding passes (mall receipts) those were printed, little did I know this’d be the only one I’d use, and even that was ripped, I got the smaller part of it.
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ONBOARD
I was onboard at 0933 hours, just 2hr37min till Etihad flight EY150 to Abu Dhabi departed. It was going to be a close one. Unsurprisingly, there was no one welcoming passengers onboard, the only crew member, Nick, was doing whatever he needed to do. I took my seat, 17C at 0936 hours. My first impression was how narrow this plane was. Having been on the CRJ200s and CRJ900s, the direct competitor from the north, I could observe some differences. The seat number indicators were only on port side (for all three seats, since ‘A’ seats were window and aisle seats in a 1-2 configuration), while overhead baggage bins were over starboard seats. Not like they were any big either.
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Engine/wing view
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These observations did not prevent me from thinking about what would or would not happen within the next couple of hours: will A6-ETG be the next plane I’d be flying on? Or would it be something else? Time would tell. In the midst of all this, there was a passenger who decided to go missing. Wow, like the flight wasn’t delayed enough. Time was also wasted as the flight attendant reseated a couple of passengers, leaving the last row absolutely empty. Announcements were made, we’d be flying in to Chicago in 1hr17min. Estimated arrival time at the gate was 1120 hours, giving us 50 minutes to make the Etihad flight. Captain Jonas explained exactly what happened very well, which once again - I’m glad the ground staff thought we wouldn’t find out :) First Officer Peter was alongside.

DEPARTURE
We pushed back at 0958 hours, 4hr22min after scheduled departure time. Safety demo was completed with the pre-recorded announcement. Both Rolls Royce AE3007A1/2 engines were fired up as the de-cining truck took its place. We taxied out towards the runway 18 at 1009 hours. Time was ticking for us.
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Delta's operations going smoothly as ever, their 4th on time departure for the day
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We held short of Runway 18 for quite some time, before finally taking off at 1018 hours. The de-icning fluid completely blocked my view of anything. That however, was the least of things I was worried about. EY150 or not was the real question. Image
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INFLIGHT
As we climbed towards the cruising altitude of 35000 feet, I realized that most, if not all announcements were pre-recorded. This time it was the special welcome to advantage members, precautions in flight, about service, etc. Surprisingly, this was a cash only flight, something I heard about on a Delta Connection flight from MSP to GFK. Most passengers fell asleep, including my girlfriend (who actually woke up as we were 20 minutes in to the flight…she slept as soon as we boarded).

Nothing too dramatic that happened in the flight, other than the flight attendant Nick dropping all the cookies on the aisle, and that he was seated in 18B all through the flight, which was strange. I had an able juice, and Biscoff cookies - no, these did not have Delta scribed on to them :) I got some eye shut too.
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DESCENT
We started commencing descent at around 1112 hours, somewhere over Iowa. 58 minutes till the Etihad flight. We flew right past Chicago airport, suggesting runway 27R downwind approach pattern.
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More descent pictures -
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Landing video

Shadows were cool, but I wasn't in a state of mind to enjoy it...
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EMPTY GATES? NEVER HEARD OF IT.
As luck had it, this runway in use was the furthest away from all terminals. A very smooth touchdown was executed at 1135 hours - 4hr51min later on Runway 27R, and we quickly taxied away towards Terminal 3, concourse G. 35 minutes to departure of the Etihad flight. ‘If you have any connections from here in Chicago, please check the TV monitors screen located throughout the airport’. Thanks for the information, not only are we significantly delayed, our flight wouldn’t even depart from the same terminal.
‘Have a nice day, and happy holidays’, once again, thanks for that. I definitely wasn’t having the best day since I knew my plans were jeopardized, and not like the flight attendant apologized or anything.

While the pilots did taxi the plane around very fast, at 1138 hours we pulled up beside an American Eagle CRJ-200 that was parked at a very remote bay. What was happening? The answer was clear, soon enough. Everything was falling apart, but I appreciate the pilots keeping us updated about everything. ALL gates were occupied! There was nothing that was going right for us. Another 10-15 minutes is what the Captain mentioned. And that’s when the penny dropped. I would definitely miss the Etihad flight. We waited and waited, but at least we got priority over the other CRJ.

NCA B748f departure
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United more than had their act together....
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KE B77W departing. I had hoped to capture an image of this plane, head on.
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In the meantime, I was envious of everything that was going on around. It seemed like a smooth sailing day for United as their planes taxied straight for the gates, while some other airlines’ B777s that I wanted to picture were departing to their respective destinations.

It was a hurried taxi to the terminal, and taxied right past terminal 5 of all terminals. Behind A6-ETG. She was all set to depart back to Abu Dhabi, and I was still onboard this ERJ that’d been the reason for all my worries during the day.
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The closest I got to A6-ETG that day.... ITS RIGHT THERE!
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In the midst of all this, I completely failed to notice the significance of this image - a United B747 in Chicago!
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American biggies
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ANYONE TO OPERATE THE JETBRIDGE....ANYONE?!
We docked at Gate G16 at 1203 hours, just 7 minutes prior to the Etihad departure. I had now finally given up of making the flight at all. I was set to be in Chicago for longer than I’d thought. But the question remained - for how long? In order to find out, I’d have to get off the plane, which was another story. Once at the gate, there was no one to operate the jet bridge! American Eagles’ operations started sounding like an absolute joke at that point. It almost seemed like they were deemed unfit to operate an airline.
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A WORKING JETBRIDGE? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Once some one showed up, the Captain came over the passenger announcement system once again, this time sounding very embarrassed: the jet bridge would not move and the ground staff had to find a technician who would help with this. The aircraft was starting to get way too warm. Anxious, worried, tired, frustrated….a lot of things were going through my mind as a jet bridge finally got attached to the ERJ. 55 minutes from touchdown to disembarkation. Says a lot, right?

Not that it mattered much at this point, but N923AE would operate a heavily delayed flight AA3250 to Bismarck, North Dakota, only its second (and final) flight of the day.

RUN RUN RUN!
We made a run for it. Starting with asking an unhelpful American Eagle agent if they’d be able to hold the flight for us. He said we had no choice but to run to the terminal. Thanks for your help, kind sir :) Why did we even bother wasting time here.

I’m surprised that in the midst of all this stress and the size of Chicago’s airport, we did not get lost in finding our way to the people mover. There was one around waiting, but just as luck would have it, doors closed and it pulled away just as we were sprinting up towards it. Such was my level of frustration, I threw out all the swear words I had in me…..at a robot that has basically no human interaction..

Once we got on to another tram, my heart was in my mouth - I wanted to know if the Etihad plane was there or not - eureka! A6-ETG was still in the gate, jet bridge still attached. Once we got off, we made our way through the escalators. ‘Sorry, excuse me, we’d like to get through, American Airlines sucks’ were some of the words that helped us cut through the long escalator lines!

THE UNHELPFUL PEOPLE V2.0
Inside the terminal, I saw some people at the Etihad Airways counters. Finally, someone who could help us out - something was going right! Or was it? I saw the grave mistake I made - they were Aeromexico staff. The Etihad counters were empty. No one.

We tried our luck by joining the very long line for security. For those of you familiar with the lines at Chicago O’Hare, this one was a particular nightmare. It snaked out towards the check in areas. Two very helpful people were checking boarding passes of all passengers. The elder of the two looked at our boarding passes
‘Etihad Airways?’
‘Yes..’
‘You are very late, the flight has gone’
‘That’s wrong sir, please understand that my American Eagle flight got in 5 hours late, and the plane is still here (although well aware of the fact that they’d probably already offloaded us, but I wanted to push my luck)’
’No, its gate M4. Long lines and very far’.
‘I am aware, but would it be possible for you to help us’.
‘No, ask Etihad staff’ he said.
He later tried helping us by sending us to the business and first class lines. And so we did.

THE UNHELPFUL PEOPLE V2.1
‘Hey could you please help us?’ I asked
‘Nope’ said this lady, as she turned her head away.
‘Please listen to me ma’am, our flight was delayed by 5 hours and…’
‘No, I cannot help you’ she interrupted. I sure was in the hands of the great employees at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.

DEJECTED, FRUSTRATED, HOPELESS...
Feeling helpless thanks to the two clowns, I asked the airport information center person: he confirmed my worst fears - the Etihad people would not be back till the following day morning, and that we’d have to go back to T3 and get help from the American Airlines people. Walking back towards the tram, my girlfriend broke down. We both worked quite hard to pay for such high fares during the holiday seasons, and it was turning out to be nothing. We had to wait and find out.

On the tram, as I calmed her down, I saw the eagle on A6-ETG’s tail. It almost felt I was leaving something very significant back.
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THE GRIM ADVENTURES OF AMERICAN AIRLINES T3
Feeling lost and defeated, we went to the zoo known as American Airlines’ T3. It was overflowing with people. We joined one of the check in lines, which had passengers who wanted to drop off bags, or just reconfirm changes, or were victims to American Eagles’ operations. I called up American Airlines on their helpline, and got a hold of someone. She did manage to help me out, but I was probably on hold for quite a bit of time - as long as thirty minutes, and this was while I was waiting in line to speak to an agent behind the desk. I gave up hope.

While on hold, I kept checking the Etihad Airways website for EY150's flight status: unsurprisingly, this was delayed. Surprisingly, this was delayed by over 2.5 hours! So there was surely something more than just the two of us being offloaded.

A NEW HOPE?
This long line was served within 1hr10min (from the time we joined in). Every one behind the counters were tired, but keeping their cool. Most passengers had pretty straightforward rebooking procedures, but for us: out final destination was Kolkata, India. Perhaps not quite what the people would have to be dealing with every day. The person had good news! We were booked on to an alternate route! The flights were:
UA B764 ORD-AMS
9W B77W AMS-BOM
9W B73H BOM-CCU
These flights were blocked for us. However, in order to be checked in, we'd have to be not checked in on the Etihad flights. And so, a couple of failed calls and call backs later, there seemed to be a dead end, once again. I could've told him that the Etihad folk would (obviously) not be around. Without being un-checked in, I could not be rebooked on to any of the flights.
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THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - A SLOWER LINE!
And this is when the guy indirectly revealed that he misinformed us - I was the one rebooked on the United/Jet Airways itinerary, while my girlfriend had nothing going on, at all. This was bad. The guy couldn't help her, other than just guiding us to international check in area (Iberia, AirBerlin, JAL flights) and to call up the American Airlines call center and figure it out from there. This was sad - it seemed so promising in the beginning, but it boiled down to nothing in the end. We were helpless.

THE UNHELPFUL PEOPLE V3.0 - THE CALL CENTER'S DEED
We joined a line that only inched. Most passengers were international students flying home (if not, heading to a new country for adventures). While in line, my girlfriend called up the American Airlines people. While she was on the phone she was put on hold many times, only for the man helping her to advise us not to fly out of the northern airports during the winter, as if we had a choice. This is her recount of that terrible phone call:
He listed many flights that were fully booked heading in the way we were going, but that he wasn't able to book her on any of them because they were all first class remaining seats and telling her not to get her hopes up for getting one of those either. My girlfriend was freaking out because she was essentially stranded and repeated that to the customer service helper every time he would suggest something but then explain how it wasn't possible for her to get on that flight without being at the front of the line, which we were not.

In the midst of all of this, the dolt decided to remove most of the sectors of the outbound flight (FAR-ORD and AUH-CCU remained, he got rid of ORD-AUH). And so, this left us in a fix. We had landed in Chicago over three hours ago, with uncertainty ahead.

ACCEPTANCE AND ANTICIPATION
Tears and anger, a lot of it. I was so close to giving up. I just wanted to head back to Fargo, drive back up to Grand Forks and work over the winter. All it took was a picture of my dog to convince me to not give up. The line inched. Slower than a snail. It was so disorganized that we somehow ended up some place at the sharp end of the line, only to be thrown all the way to the back of line. Did I mention that this was being handled by an overly rude lady? I guess customer service was the last thing on anyone’s mind at that point.

In the midst of all this, I was looking at Google flights: JetBlue to Philly, and then Qatar Airways to Kolkata via Doha. It was only a matter of time till we’d find out how we’ll get to Kolkata.
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THE STARS ALIGN!
Some coffee, some new friendships, some lame jokes, some online searches for itineraries, and many hours later, we reached what almost certainly looked like a rainbow out of the treasure chest - the check in! Such was the mood swings after the long day we’d had, we decided to forgive everything bad we said about American Airlines customer service. A lovely gem of a lady helped us out. My first (and only) request to her was this - all I wanted was my girlfriend to be with me on the same flights, and that I didn’t care if we sat together or not.

She said she’d try her best, and asked us to keep our feet on the ground. ‘It seems like I have two seats remaining for American and Etihad via Manchester and Doha’, she said. ‘Let me book this for the two of you.’ With the widest smile on my face I asked her ‘Are you sure you meant Etihad? Or did you mean Qatar Airways?’ ‘You are right, it is indeed Qatar Airways!’. Amazing - a day that started off so bad ended with the best possible recovery! And better yet, two of these three flights we’d be together AND window seats! I was elated - two new airports in Manchester and Doha, a new airline in Qatar Airways (enabling me to be on all three Middle Eastern airlines assuming Etihad would operate the return), my longest narrow body flight ever would be on a Boeing (across the pond, that too), and two Boeing 787s! We were handed four meal vouchers and two hotel rooms. Of course, the downside was that we’d have a 17 hour layover at Doha, and we decided to worry about that later.
This is what the itinerary was, at the end of it:
AA54 ORD MAN B75W 19DEC 1900 0825+1
QR28 MAN DOH B788 20DEC 1550 0055+2
QR540 DOH CCU B788 21DEC 1950 0220+3

I called up my parents instantly to brief them on the new plan - we’d reach Kolkata 2.5 days after schedule, which means our plan to rest out the jet lag would be gone (and that I won’t be able to see my dog for a bit longer), but we’d still like to go to Guwahati the very morning we arrived. More on this later. Got a taxi, headed for the hotel and had dinner - all on American Eagle! The rest that night was unbelievable, and good things were on our way….

Shouldn't have wished for the stock boarding passes anyway.... and now I had about 10 of them!
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Very very comfortable bed!
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Dinner at a bar -
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This will haunt me forever...
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CONCLUSION
An amazing recovery. It was the first time I missed connections because of an airline's fault, so it definitely was nice to be in a hotel and getting free food from it all. What started out with an inconvenient taxi ride at 0330 in the morning unfortunately didn't turn out to be a flight on a B777-300ER, instead a rather comfortable sleep in a hotel, all paid by American Airlines. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong: the mess in Fargo, small delays turning in to a big one, missed connection, the mess in Chicago, long queues, pretty unhelpful staff, until we got to the very end of it all. My girlfriend and I pretty much dislike Fargo and Chicago airports at this point (seeing as we spent too much time there), in addition to being in the hands of not the greatest customer service handling. For sure, we lost out on getting to Kolkata on time, but I was looking forward a TATL on the B757, and flights on Qatar Airways! It just goes to show that things will always work out regardless of how dire the situation may be. If only I wasn't greedy about American Eagle's stock boarding passes.....

As always, thanks to TG with helping out with the editing of this flight report :)

My other trip reports:
2016
Thanksgiving '16 in the Sin City - My Allegiance with N891GA, to divert or not to divert (LAS-GFK Nov '16) (video trip report)
Thanksgiving '16 in the Sin City - My Allegiance with Allegiant! (Part 1, many pictures) (video trip report)
The day I flew the world's most popular plane (GFK-FAR-CKN-GFK, C172)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 14: Delta Connection, a quick hop in the Midwest! (MSP - GFK, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 13: Super old, Super 80, Mad Dog Across the Midwest! (AA ORD-MSP, Aug'16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 12: Flying the Friendly Skies... (United Munich to Chicago, Aug '16)) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 11: Epic Lufthansa, Epic A340! (Delhi to Munich, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 10: Konnect, Lite, Delight...(S2 B73H CCU-DEL, Aug '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 9: Take me home, Vistara! (DEL-CCU, Jul '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 8: Vistara's INAUGURAL flight out of Kolkata! (CCU-DEL, Jun '16)) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 7: Efficient IndiGo! (Mumbai to Kolkata, A320, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 6: Big delays, cracked windshield, angry passengers (SG CCU-BOM B73J) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 5: Air India's domestic Dream)liner (DEL-CCU May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 4: Nearly First Class - stories of the empty A380! (LH FRA-DEL May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 3: World's longest jet, Lufthansa's B748i! (ORD-FRA May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 2: ChicaGO on United's A319! (MSP-ORD, May '16) (video trip report)
Summer '16 trek back home - Part 1: Sun rise onboard the long range CRJ (DL GFK-MSP CRJ-900, May '16) (video trip report)
The pencil jet(s) for spring break! (+ Iron Maiden bonus): Delta MSP-FLL-MSP, March '16 (DL1608 video trip report, DL2027 video trip report)
De-iced & Delayed, cold onboard a CRJ! (ORD-MSP-GFK on Delta, Jan '16) (ORD-MSP video report) (MSP-GFK video report)
Delta's aged B767-300ER across the Atlantic! (CDG-ORD in Y, Jan '16) (video report)
Air France's NEW Economy (B777-200ER, Bengaluru to Paris, Jan '16) (video report)
Delays and despair: stressed out in the middle seat! (Jet Airways B737 Mumbai - Bengaluru, Jan '16)
Air India's hybrid babybus from Kolkata to Mumbai (Jan '16, Y) (video report)

2012
South Africa 3: 12 days in Scintillating South Africa (Kruger, Kulula and Rand Airport, Apr' 12, LONG!)
South Africa 2: Elegant Emirates Economy! (DXB-CPT, B77W, Apr '12)
South Africa 1: My first flight on Emirates, my first flight on the 777 (CMB-DXB, Apr '12)

2011
International transit with Jet Airways (BOM-MAA-CMB, Oct. '11)
Konnecting to Bhubaneswar (9W BOM-BBI-BOM, Jul '11)
Three trips between India and Sri Lanka (9W BOM-CMB-BOM: Jun '11, Jul '11, Oct. 11)
To India's Orange City: Mumbai - Nagpur - Mumbai on Jetlite & Tadoba National Park (May 2011)
My last flight on Kingfisher Airlines (and 2 other Jet flights, May '11)
 
moby147
Posts: 94
Joined: Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:30 am

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Sun Oct 08, 2017 8:08 pm

Blimey, you have way more manors than I would have had at that point!!

I'm glad everything worked out & look forward to the rest of the trip reports :-)
 
outbackair
Posts: 82
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 6:01 pm

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:06 am

Excellent report! Looking forward to the next installment.
 
User avatar
CollegeAviator
Topic Author
Posts: 204
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:55 am

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:20 pm

moby147 wrote:
Blimey, you have way more manors than I would have had at that point!!

I'm glad everything worked out & look forward to the rest of the trip reports :-)

Hey thanks for checking out this flight report!
For sure it was frustrating - however you're just so helpless standing around.
As for having manners - well, I did not want to risk being on the no fly list ;)
Do stay tuned for the other reports!

outbackair wrote:
Excellent report! Looking forward to the next installment.

Thanks so much!
Expect the next one for October 21st :)

Regards
CA
 
KLDC10
Posts: 805
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2016 8:15 pm

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:00 pm

Thanks for another great report! I am astonished at how badly everything seemed to go for you on this occasion. Perhaps you could forgive the technical problems in Fargo (although, to be honest, it doesn't seem like Delta encountered the same issues), but the attitude you received in O'Hare was, frankly, unacceptable. I'm sorry you had to deal with such unhelpful, rude staff - though well done for keeping your temper with them.

I'm glad things were resolved in the end, and I look forward to the next installment.
DC9/MD90/MD11/F70/BAE146/Q400/737/738/739/752/763/772/A320/A321/A332/A333/E190
 
thegoldenargosy
Posts: 589
Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:14 am

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:20 pm

Oh the joys of Holiday traveling! I'm looking forward to the rest of this trip report.
 
User avatar
Super80Fan
Posts: 394
Joined: Thu Jul 06, 2017 4:14 am

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:06 pm

I'd honestly forgive the American Eagle FA, as none of this was his fault and he was in the same boat as you guys. As far as everything else though, airport staff can either be fantastic (as in the case of the AA check in woman) or awful (as is the case with everyone else you encountered). Great trip report.
RIP McDonnell Douglas
 
xaapb
Posts: 396
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:08 pm

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Wed Oct 11, 2017 4:19 pm

Thank you for a very nice reading, what an adventure you two had and glad everything went ok excepet for the 2.5 days delay in getting to India!!
Can't wait to read the next part!

Greetings!
Jorge Meneses
 
User avatar
sudenmorsian
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jun 22, 2015 1:43 pm

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:25 pm

A wonderful trip report with some really nice pictures, as always :D

I was stuck in ORD that weekend myself — I was flying home to NYC on DL until my flight to JFK was cancelled (literally the only DL flight cancelled on 12/18 :D) and couldn't get home until Sunday morning.
 
Cush
Posts: 287
Joined: Sat Feb 14, 2009 4:42 am

Re: Winter Break 2016 (1): The Frozen Embraer Delay - missed connection! (FAR-ORD, Dec '16)

Sun Oct 15, 2017 2:55 am

I totally understand your frustration. I only fly on United (Star Alliance), and really only had one BAD experience similar to what you had. Me and my buddies were flying from PIT-EWR-ZRH-KGS to attend a friends wedding, but more importantly, as soon as we arrived in KGS, i had a separate ticket from KGS-ATH-LED and back to visit my then fiancee in Russia.

When we arrived at the gate, I saw the flight was delayed. Not by a lot, but enough knowing we would miss the connection in Newark. The helpful agent rebooked us through Dulles, and we went to the bar to have a drink.

Everything was fine! We arrived in Dulles and flew to Zurich. Once in Zurich, we needed to find a hotel for the night, as our flight didn't depart again until the wee hours of the morning the following day to Kos. I tried to check us in for our flight on Edelweiss, but i kept getting a weird error message. I called the airline, and guess what. No record of our reservation existed!!!

I spent 3 hours pacing around outside the hotel on my cell phone (ended up with a $400 phone bill) to get us booked back on the flight again. Ugh!!

Our trip to Greece was great, and my extra adventure to Russia was amazing as well.

On our return trip home, we had the same situation (getting a hotel in Zurich for the night until our flight back to the US the following day).

While sitting at the hotel bar, i tried to check us in for our flights, and again, same problem. No records existed!!

I spent about 2+ hours on the phone trying to get them to fix this.

Unfortunately, they had given up our three seats on Swiss Airlines, and only 2 were available now, so since I was a Gold level member with United, I was given Economy Plus on United, and they were put on the Swiss Airlines flight.

To make matters worse, both of my buddies had their luggage lost, and my friend was leaving the following day to fly back home to Los Angeles.

All in all it was a nightmare. I demanded that United reimburse me the over $600 i had spent on my cell phone bill, along with other expenses and flight credits, but alas, they refused to budge, even though i caused a big stink on social media, blogs, etc, about them.... Instead, we each received a small amount of frequent flyer miles, which i would later use towards our flights to our wedding.

At the end of the day, this was one bad experience, outside of the MANY good experiences I have had with the airline.

Personally, I HATE American Airlines. I worked for them as well for a period of time, and honestly, i won't travel on them as a passenger.
Fly me to the moon let me play among the stars.

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