Content + Tech = Learning

Our Domestic International Adventure – Day 1

In Misc on 7 July, 2010 at 07:12

I recently took a group on a tour of France – 5 adults and 4 rising seniors.  We had an amazing itinerary planned that was absolutely jam-packed with things we had studied in class.  However, the trip went from 12 days to 10 for some, 9 for others … thanks to United airlines.  United sucks! 

Almost everyone’s arrival at McGhee Tyson was hindered by SOMETHING: construction back-up on Pellissippi Parkway and fender-benders because of it, Mollie lost her keys, Olivia forgot her soccer bag requiring another stop by Amy … we all should have known something was amiss – it was a full moon.

Once we assembled we were unable to eat with parents despite minors in the group because of heightened security precautions. OK – security measures, we get it. We proceeded through the security check – Amy had put the hairspray and sunscreen in the wrong red bag so she lost them to FAA / TSA. Ben and Anne were thoroughly searched by security – a random selection, of course.  This had nothing to do with the fact that Ben was born in the Middle East, I am sure.

An announcement was made that the flight we were to get on was delayed in Chicago due to mechanical issues. In all, our departure from Knoxville was delayed by 3 hours – that’s all. Thus we were told by Kay B that since it was a mechanical issue, when we got to Dulles if we missed our connector flight [which was also delayed for some reason making our connection possible even if by a slim margin] we would be rescheduled on other flights in the United ‘family’ and if there were no accommodations possible on their own airlines, we would be put on another airline.

Arrival in DC – somehow our mechanical issue has been entered into the computer as a WEATHER delay and therefore United is not at liberty to process us through other airlines. We find this out through a series of discussions, each one beginning at the very beginning of this misadventure which used SO much time. This seemed to be a tactic of the airline which allowed all the flights to fill up and / or take off while we were regurgitating our tale of woe YET AGAIN.

Before you read on you should know that the names of the persons involved have NOT been changed to protect the innocent – there were no innocents except for US!

Upon our arrival in Dulles we waited at a service desk and we were 2nd in queue when I was approached by a United rep Paul S. from Madagascar. [He said he is the ONLY rep from Madagascar so United, you know who he is! ] He said he could help the next two people at ‘this desk over here’. Thus I followed – BIG mistake. Initially he seemed helpful; however, he ended up wasting more time by waiting for approval from a very hateful African [nationality, not race] woman who was very hard to understand. ACIS told us there were plenty of seats on a 10pm Air France flight that night – shoot for that. OK.  Finally, an hour or more later, after looking in the system at our tickets, waiting for phone calls and other opinions, he finally said because they were bulk tickets he was unable to help us at all especially for the Air France flight and thus we had to go to gate C20. Leaving that desk felt wrong … little did I know exactly how wrong it was!

When we arrived at gate C20 to a line of 100+ people, 25 of which were asleep at the front of the line waiting on service, we decided to call ACIS again. I spoke with Maria who assured me that the best option at that point was to go to a hotel for the night. She gave me instructions on how to get the shuttle and which hotel to go to.

So, to the hotel we went … we were all already tired but more than that, we were very sad that we were going to miss  our first day in Paris. =( le sniff 

In the 14 years that I have been traveling with ACIS I have NEVER had anything like this to happen .. guess probability was in favor of my trip being screwed up royally!!! 

Day 2 got even worse … Day 3 was not much better than day 2 except that we DD finally arive in France … check back for the ‘rest of the story’.


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