The sixth most popular posting in the history of this blog is my Airline Crisis Survival Guide which tells people how to avoid major weather-related airline difficulties and, if you find yourself in one anyway, how to get out of it.
Yesterday (Sunday), I found myself dealing with one of O’Hare’s (ORD) many meltdowns returning from the American Weather Conference in Baltimore. By the way, I had a wonderful time and I want to thank the organizers for inviting me!
Some background: Saturday, persistent thunderstorms caused flooding and numerous flight cancellations at ORD so flights were already full. I had been concerned Saturday evening about Sunday’s weather in Chicago. So, the first thing I did was see if I could avoid it. I was on United.
- I could get to Denver, but the flights back to Wichita were full. I’d have to standby.
- Houston wouldn’t have gotten me home until late Sunday evening and I’m leaving again this morning, so that didn’t work.
- So, I decided to take my chance on ORD even though I was expecting thunderstorms.
Sunday, as I predicted and feared, there were thunderstorms! We were 45 min. late arriving but I had plenty of time to make my connection to Wichita. I walked from ORD’s concourse B to F (“where the fall of Saigon is reenacted daily”) to learn: Flight to Wichita cancelled. What to do?
Below is a radar image I grabbed showing the original complex of thunderstorms departing Chicago to the southeast and the new thunderstorms developing to the west and northwest that threatened ORD later in the day.
All of the flights from ORD to Wichita on United and American were oversold for both yesterday and today! I would have to standby. Standing around chaotic gates with anxious people to maybe get on a flight doesn’t appeal to me. There was no way to go from Denver to Wichita (oversold!), etc., etc. Given the deteriorating weather situation (United was delaying and canceling flights by the minute), I decided to follow the advice I offer in the guide and get out.
There was a flight leaving for Omaha in less than 30 minutes with one seat left. So, they put me on it, I hustled and made it. Drove the 5.5 hours to Wichita and got to see a truly spectacular sky and great storm between Topeka and Emporia. I enjoyed myself much more than being part of the hassle of unhappy, tense people trying to salvage their travel plans.
The Airline Crisis Survival Guide’s advice (absolutely free, just click on the above link) has been successfully used by many people. You might wish to print it out and put it with your travel materials.
And United: Go back to flying bigger planes to Wichita!