Monday, for me, was all about getting into, and then getting out of Chicago. I won’t bore you with all the details, but when the airline captain comes on the intercom to announce there is a line of storms between the plane and landing at Chicago O’Hare, you know you’re going to be in for a very long day.
Our cozy little plane didn’t have enough fuel to wait in a holding pattern for the storm clouds to clear, so we made an unscheduled stop in Indianapolis to refuel. After a couple of false alarms they finally let us on our way and we arrived in Chicago over three hours late–and too late , by 15 minutes, to catch my flight to London.
While I have been involved in the Chicago O’Hare evening rush hour before, I have never seen it after everyone’s been delayed for two hours or more. The sense of collective suffering was palpable, as people compared notes on how long their had been waiting for their flights and how much their connections and travel plans had been messed up.
United’s Customer Service desk had a line that must have been at least 250 people long. I was fortunate that I was sent directly to the gate of the next flight to London where I managed to get a seat (with no elbow room) otherwise I would have been stuck in line until all the transatlantic flights had gone for the night. I eventually landed in the UK five hours late and minus my checked bag, which turned up on the doorstep 22 hours later.
So in the end, I was one of the luckier ones. I was chatting to people who were traveling to Kiev, flying to China, meeting up with a cruise liner, and so on. I have no idea if they got to where they needed to go, but I am sure the airport hotels were full Monday night. Maybe connecting through Chicago is a risky business at the best of times, but when you have further connections or tight travel schedules in your itinerary, well, you’re just asking for trouble.