THE RETURN FROM INDY (a tale of suspense and horror)

If you've already read this page earlier, go to the bottom to read the new part.

Mostly all is mostly well. Just got back from Gencon Indianapolis. Sales were not bad (tho never as good as I had hoped). (If you want to read about the final results of our "Gencon Stock Market Game, click here. ) Flew home on monday. Had a direct flight scheduled from Indy to Phoenix at 11AM. They were asking for volunteers (because they are overbooked) to take a different flight in return for a round trip air coupon anywhere ATA flies. Hmm. All our work was done, we'd get home by 6pm instead of 1230, have to fly to Cleveland, but why not? So we (Bill and I) volunteer and are accepted. I ask the counter lady what happens to our baggage, and she says it will stay on the ATA flight and ATA will lock it up until we get there. Call our ride & tell him 6pm instead of 1230, Continental instead of ATA. Sit in the Indy airport for 3 hours reading. Not too bad. Get a hamburger at the bar. Fly to Cleveland. They are asking for volunteers because they are overbooked also. Figured we'd already been delayed enough. They promise a $300 voucher towards anywhere Continental flies. Not enough. Then they say we'd have to fly to Newark and fly to Phoenix from there. Ugh. Then they say "First class from Newark to Phoenix." We volunteer.

We immediately are told to go to a different gate to catch the flight to Newark. It's just a few doors down, but they are getting ready to leave. The lady at the counter is having problems with her computer, but eventually manages to give us our vouchers and our boarding passes for the Newark flight. I call our ride and tell him 944pm instead of 6pm. I didn't notice that she neglected to give us any TICKETS. We are the last ones on the Cleveland to Newark flight. Then we sit on the runway for half an hour because they are having weather delays in Newark. I'm a little worried, but figure they asked us to volunteer, they have to take care of us, even tho there's only an hour between our scheduled arrival in Newark and the time the Newark to Phoenix flight is supposed to take off.

We get to Newark. Our gate for the Phoenix flight is only a few doors down, thank goodness. I hand the lady my boarding pass. Where is your ticket? I explain they never gave me one. Can I see your old ticket? Of course not - it was an e-ticket with ATA. You have to go to the customer service counter (fortunately just around the corner). We go to the customer service counter. The lady there wants to see the ticket. She insists that they "must"have given me one, look again thru all my pockets and carryon. No ticket. (The ticket from Indy to Cleveland, by the way was written on one ticket form for both Bill and me, and was collected in Cleveland when we volunteered for the Newark flight. At Cleveland they not only didn't ask for a ticket, they didn't give me one for the Newark portion of the trip, just boarding passes). I ask the lady what's the problem. They have reservations in our name for the Newark to Phoenix flight with reserved seats, we have boarding passes with our names on them, we have picture ID. She says she has to have some way of recording the trip. She needs to see the old tickets, which of course were collected in Cleveland. She types for awhile. She makes a phone call to get a phone number. She makes another phone call. I'm beginning to get a bit worried. She tries to make one more phone call but no one answers. Finally she tells us to go back to the gate and tell the agent there to call her, as he is not answering the phone. We go back to the gate and show the agent our boarding passes. He asks for our tickets. I tell him that he is supposed to call Michelle at customer service. He snorts, but makes the call. After some conversation and typing on his computer he allows as how we can get on the plane. Hoody Hoo!.

First class is all I remembered it to be the last time I got lucky. Roomy seats, lots of legroom, warmed cashews served instead of peanuts, real salad brought prior to the rest of dinner, (chicken sandwich and potato salad) and a hot fudge sundae, in a real glass, for dessert. The flight is uneventful - even the little kid sitting on the lap of the lady next to me sleeps the whole way. Get to Phoenix. Go straight to the curb to meet our ride, assuming that there's no way our luggage followed us the whole time. ATA and Continental are in different terminals, so we'll catch our ride, have him take us to the ATA terminal for our luggage. And my ride is a friend who always circles the terminal until I come out to the curb. Wait for 20 minutes. Start to get worried. Wonder if I really remembered to tell him we are on Continental now instead of ATA, which means we arrived at a different terminal. Ride sneaks up behind us with two luggage carts in tow. He parked instead of circling and somehow missed us inside the terminal. I tell him we don't need the carts, our luggage is over at terminal 3. We go find his van (eventually - he forgot where he parked it). Get out at terminal 3 and tell him to circle until we come out with our luggage. Walk past the ATA ticket counter to get to baggage claim. At baggage claim they tell us that we have to go to the ATA ticket counter for baggage service. Walk back to the ATA ticket counter. Guy looks on his computer, then goes in back for about ten minutes. Comes back and says there is no record, but we'll go look in the lockbox. We walk back to baggage claim to the ATA lockup. No bags. I explain that the counter person in Indy told me our bags would be on our original flight. He says no, they probably came with us on our actual flight. I worry that they never made it between flights at Cleveland, since we had such a short time there. He explains that we have to go back to Continental to make a claim for our luggage. If it didn't arrive, they are the ones responsible. Begin to wonder whether it was really such a good deal to "volunteer". Go back to the curb. Meet our ride. Drive back to terminal 2 where Continental is. Walk into the Continental office, there are all four of our bags sitting on the floor right in front of the counter. Hand our luggage claim checks to the lady at the counter. She checks the bags. Complains that the names on the checks don't match the bags. (Two say "Rick Loomis", two say "Bill Murray". Or rather only one says "Rick Loomis"as one of the tags has completely disappeared from my bag). Eventually get it worked out that there are two different names involved, but that both of us are here. Get home approximately 11pm. A very tiring day, but at least we got a free round trip ticket on ATA, and a $300 voucher for Continental, and we got home only 10 hours from the original time.

Also caught a bug on the last day of the show, which didn't fully show up until tuesday. Am feeling miserable, but getting some work done anyway. Altho I am beginning to babble. I think it is something to do with the pill I took to try to lessen the sniffles and coughing. Lots to do. But first will probably go to bed early tonight....

Here's the new part: I used the free ticket from ATA to go to the ACD Gamesday (open house) in Madison, Wisconsin Nov 15 & 16. It was just a two day trip, out on saturday, back on sunday night. Sunday afternoon, someone warned us that if we were flying through Chicago (I was) we should check with our airlines, as Chicago was fogged in, and some flights were being cancelled. I called ATA right away, but was told "I don't see any problems". So of course when I got to the airport at 5pm I was told "The flight is delayed, and you would miss your connection, but don't worry, I have you on a flight through Minneapolis on Northwest Airlines. You'll still get home tonight." But as he was typing on his computer, the lady next to him said "You can't do that - he's on a free ticket." It turns out, when they reroute you due to weather onto another airline, that other airline gets paid the "face value" of your ticket, whatever it is. And since mine was a "free" ticket for volunteering, the face value was zero, so Northwest of course would not accept it. And of course, since it was a weather related delay, the airline would not pay for my hotel room. They scheduled me on a flight at 6am the next morning, and found me a cheap (only $45) hotel.

I got up at 4am the next morning to get to the airport in time to find out of course that this flight was delayed also, apparently also due to fog. I sat at the gate for the next three hours before they finally decided to switch me to Delta - flying through Cincinnati. I don't know how much Delta got paid or why they could switch the free ticket now, but not last night. Perhaps after they have delayed you for 14 hours, they are willing to pay some money to the other airline? At any rate I got home at 230PM on monday, approximately 14 hours (and $45) later than I had planned.

Now I'm afraid to use that Continental voucher!

curious folks have read this page since Dec 2, 2003

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