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Flights Canceled on Way BACK From SES San Jose

When we last left off on the trip from hell just to attend SES San Jose, I had finally arrived Monday afternoon after being stranded last Sunday in Chicago. I kid you freaking not, I’m stranded again in Chicago and am once again in a glorious king size bed at the O’Hare Hilton – the very LAST room they had.

My dinner mates on our fun trip to Japan Town last night know I was starting to worry after Bill Slawski got a call from some SES attendees who were dealing with a nightmare at O’Hare yesterday. Many SES-ers had left on Thursday. There were 500 canceled flights and that created delays. The story we got was there was a hurricane somewhere. I read reports about electrical outages, etc. In any case, I contacted my airline and they insisted flights today would be safe.

And they were, up until the last possible second.

The flight from San Jose was a blast. A woman I sat with was a delightful sweetheart whose son works in Human Factors for Adobe. She was tickled I knew what that was, and we spent the next 4 hours chatting about everything from usability, to web design, to raising kids, to breastfeeding, to world travel (she’s been everywhere), meditation, and her work with people who suffer traumatic events. She has her own practice. Her husband and son were on the flight too. I met her son when we departed the flight, he and I had a funny talk about what we do (while his mom just beamed) and I think they adopted me. We made plans to stay in touch…

I had a 3 hour layover, which was tolerable because many of you who were at the conference are putting up pictures and my Facebook page is going nuts. I was entertained the whole time. My flight was delayed by 30 minutes, for Allentown, PA, but I didn’t sweat it. The sun was shining.

We boarded the flight, and since it was an 1.5 hour flight, the plane is small. It didn’t take long to discover the guy I was sitting with went to my high school and we knew a ton of people in common. He lives near Seattle now, but was coming out to my area for a family reunion. (Bill! He’s been to City Gardens. How cool is that?) We jumped right into our stories of the bars we hung out at (when the drinking age was 18) and things we did that our kids will never know about.

Once we taxied out towards the runway, we saw THE LINE. We were number 43 in a line of planes that weren’t allowed to fly due to a line of thunderstorms cutting across the central states. All flights coming in or out were being funneled through a hole in the weather system, so we all had to sit in the planes and wait our turn.

Several hours later, they took us back to the airport because the stewardesses had reached their 16 hour limit of work time and they canceled the flight.

Like last Sunday, I was stuck.

This time, my husband Eric booked me the room at the O’Hare Hilton, while I waited in line to get a boarding pass for a standby flight at 1:45 or a regular flight tomorrow night at 9pm. Meanwhile, just as on Sunday, my luggage is going to Allentown on the next flight out, which I heard is tonight because they started flying planes again. Everyone on my flight had to find different arrangements. Some were so fed up they were looking into renting cars to get the hell out of Chicago.

Anyone else stuck here?

Related discussion – Scary Travel Stories By Those Who Travel To Ses/seo/sem Conferences


  1. August 24, 2007    

    OMG! I can’t believe your luck! You’ll laugh about it someday. Glad you sat next to some cool people…you have a nack for that! :-)

  2. August 24, 2007    

    You would know!
    I can’t BELIEVE you’re the first person to see this…did you get home ok?

  3. August 25, 2007    

    Hi Kim!
    It took Danielle and I over 24 hrs to get home. Flight due to leave San Jose to Phoenix at 3:30 thurs was cancelled. Next available flight was out of SFO, but we wouldnt make our connection to colorado in Phoenix and I didnt want to stay in phoenix – so we hopped a flight to Las Vegas. Got into vegas at 10 – got a great room at the Doubletree club for 5 hrs, back at airport at a bit after 5am for a 6:45am flight – 6:45 flight delayed til 7:30 for crew rest = crew showed up and they delayed the flight for mechanical – meanwhile our connection from Phoenix to CO (grand junction) was leaving at 8:20 am – no hope incatching that one – there are about 3 flights a day from phoenix to grand junction and the 8:20 flight was the second one – so we were beginning to panic a bit. Went to the desk and asked to be rebooked on a flight going to phoenix earlier than noon = got out of las vegas at 10 – made our 2:45 connection to grand junction and I finally got home around 6:30pm – whew! I feel your pain. On a positive, i saw las vegas for the first time, although didnt get a chance to gamble or go visit anything. And my kids got snowglobed from a lot of different airports!
    Good Luck – hope you’ve made it home by now!

  4. August 25, 2007    

    I snagged a standby flight and by 6:30 pm I was home, petting Dakota, my golden retriever. It felt so good to be with my dog…Eric and my boys took me out to dinner, since I hadn’t eaten since Thurs nite. Daughter is at work but has been texting to see if I’m home.

    Dead tired but already working on travel plans for Pubcon. heh.

  5. August 26, 2007    

    OMG! I’m just catching up on blogs now, and thank goodness you made it home … but JEEZ!! What an awful week of travel, Kim. Unbelievable…..

  6. August 27, 2007    

    Wow Kim, the luck you have. Maybe you should have stayed with Chris! LOL

    How’s this for horror – you know i changed my ticket to try and fly back saturday instead of sunday… well i get to northwest’s counter and the guy changed my ticket to September 25th, not August!!

    With about 2 minutes to spare I did make it on my flight out… but not before freaking out at people!

  7. August 27, 2007    

    OMG Li. All you went through to get that flight changed in the first place. I wondered how you made out…but you were flying into Phila. I’ve never had any trouble when flying to/from Phila., so my idea to choose the airport closer to me turned out to be not such a good idea I guess. United did try. They kept rebooking me automatically and their customer service was always easy to get to (by human, phone or computer).

    I can picture you being angry with them. The most I ever did to show emotion was Friday night, while standing in line after our flight was returned to the gate and we all were dumped off and told to figure out our next steps on our own. While in the line to get rebooked, one United employee suddenly started to tell us there was a flight available to us to Allentown in a half hour and why were we all standing there?

    After some commotion, and her insisting we could get on it, I told her I wasn’t budging from my spot in line until I had a signed contract in blood saying I had a seat on it.

    There were several giggles and nods around me and then I saw this businessman turn towards me and he gave me a smile and thumbs up.

    That flight was NOT available to us, she later learned.

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