Waiting at My Las Vegas Gate at 2 am ... Thanks Virgin America...
When flight 1 of 3 back home to Brisbane was delayed due to weather, Virgin America staff simply told us: "You can take the next flight. It leaves in two days." After having driven to Chicago's O'Hare International Airport from Madison, Wisconsin, this wasn't exactly the answer I was looking for. However, the worst part was that the only reason this was even a possibility was because I had noticed the delay and had said something. Virgin America simply let another passenger beside me, whose connection also involved the once in a blue moon flight to Fiji, check in and waved them off to their fate of sitting on a runway somewhere and missing the Fiji connection. While my story does have a happy ending, unfortunately it doesn't have a nice beginning. Keep reading to find out how to take on the airlines when they are unwilling to help.
Rule # 1 Don't Give Up
I always try to arrive around 3 hours before my international flights because I am truly a plane jinx and something always happens. My flights back to Brisbane from Chicago were no exception to my normal trend.
On the way to the airport, while in the car, I checked the status of my first flight by putting the flight number into Google.
By simply googling the flight number, you can check for delays.
Of course, I saw that my flight from Chicago to San Francisco was delayed.
When checking into my flight, I was already prepared with this information and asked to be put on another flight. Trying to be as polite as possible, I explained that I would only have 13 minutes to make an international connection in San Francisco to make my connection to Fiji, where I had planned to explore during my 15 hour layover.
"Sure, we can do that." WELL... Virgin America said they could put me on a 15 hour flight to South Korea and a 12 hour flight to Brisbane, but I had a blood clot in my leg when I was younger and medically cannot fly over 12 hours ... HENCE THE LAYOVER IN FIJI.
So, at this point I was told that the next flight to Fiji was leaving in TWO DAYS. When I told them that I didn't live in Chicago and would have to drive back and forth again, they told me to sit down and that they would be with me shortly. LIES.
They will never be with you shortly. So while Virgin America was "sorting out my situation" (they weren't, they were checking other poor, unfortunate souls into flights that were going to be delayed and missed connections) I called my travel insurance.
My mother, who is a travel monger extraordinaire, kept going up the the counter periodically to ask about what was happening and offering solutions. Finally, after practically begging, being ignored, begging some more, having eyes rolled at, and being ignored some more, my mother asked to speak to a superior and VOILA I was suddenly booked into the last seat on a flight to Las Vegas and would connect in Honolulu to Brisbane.
I'm pretty sure my mother said something along the lines of "the airlines can ALWAYS do something for you, they just don't want to." Basically, there weren't any seats on their partner airlines, but they have the power to put you on any flight, they just don't want to.
It's horrible that by being nice, patient and kind one cannot get the help they deserve. Instead, by being demanding, crazy and impatient, suddenly changes are made. I am NOT impressed with the staff at Virgin America at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
Once I had my itinerary in hand, I cancelled my Fiji hotel (which incurred a fee because it was less than 24 hours in advance) and said goodbye to my parents. I flew to Las Vegas where I had to wait until almost 3am to board my flight to Hawaii. The slot machines beside the gates were a bit much, but the airport was busy for it being so late. There was even some strange woman drunkenly screaming as I ate my dinner at 11pm.
In the end, I was able to explore Honolulu, Hawaii, a place I've never been before. I landed before sunrise and set off for the hotel I had booked while waiting in Las Vegas. As the orange glow began to grow over mountains and skyscrapers in Waikiki, I took a bath and got ready to explore.
For about 7 hours I was able to explore the boardwalk, grab fresh pineapple juice, take a walk along the beach, see tropical needlefish and strange birds in a park and relax before my 10 hour flight back to Brisbane. The smell was absolutely amazing, as flowers bloomed and filled the air with sweet aromas. I'm looking forward to the next time I get to visit, although hopefully it will be planned!
Have you ever been re-rerouted? Are you a plane jinx? Leave a comment below!
~ Jamie and David
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