Thanks to Facebook and the World Wide Web, we can send information out instantly with the touch of a finger without even dialing a number. We can attach a photo in that same moment that is better quality than Olin Mills could develop in half a school year. That same note and picture can be transmitted to “friends” and then seen by thousands as the “sharing” process kicks in. We can tell the world something like, “OUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED AND WE ARE STRANDED IN CHICAGO!” and everyone knows it in a snap, but we can’t get home any sooner from Chicago.
Yes, by the time we made it back to the USA from Greece with our group, the storm had blown over a thousand flight plans into the black hole of “no flights coming in or going out.” So, once our group of 19 knew that we were extending our stay, I began the process of finding 10 hotel rooms. The airport employees began to drag out cots and line them up the terminal hallways shifting the look from airport to hospital. I kept calling hotels.
Once I found 9 rooms, (one short...I figured I’d deal with that when we got there) we were about 30 miles away and the line at the airport cab stand looked like Justin Bieber tickets were going on sale. I turned to my Uber App and while I was waiting on the four cars to arrive the price jumped up $60 per car. Capitalism, supply and demand. I was demanding a supply, right now, let’s get to the hotel. As it turned out, there were enough beds for the bodies, and we crashed for the night....well, I think the travelers did, I was still trying to figure out how to get us home to Oklahoma.
Day 2 of cancelled flights and delays. I started calling motor coach companies to see about getting a bus to drive us the 630 miles, heck, we would be home in 10 hours! When I finally found a charter company that would consider a same day run and they gave me the price, I had to use one of our travelers favorite come-back lines, “I don’t wanna buy the bus, just ride in it!”
We ordered in pizza and the gang watched football. Night number two came and went.
Day 3 of cancelled flights and delays. We hired another fleet of cars to drive us back to the Chicago O’Hare Airport. By the time we arrived the flights I thought we had were falling off the board. It’s a giant domino effect when storms hit. Travelers trying to get places were running from one gate to another as flights changed and rearranged. Our Good to Go group travelers were great to just let me handle it, but you already know that since you probably read it on Facebook as it was happening.
We finally got a break and I secured seats on 6 flights into 3 cities in 3 states. Luckily all our luggage flew to Northwest Arkansas, but I should have bought that motor coach as now we needed transportation home from 3 places. And of course, a bit of communication break-down and the smallest vehicle went to Arkansas to pick up passengers and pile in suitcases. Finally, we all made it home.
Here’s the part I don’t get....my travelers bought a 10-day trip, I gave them a 13-day trip. That’s more for your money, right? No one shared THAT on Facebook!
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or email@example.com.