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Monday, December 10, 2007

Suckered at Chicago O’Hare – Again.

It seemed that today was starting off on the right foot. I made it to LAX for my trip to Cleveland – through Chicago and then on to Washington, DC for a couple of meeting. I arrived at the airport early, checked the flight status in Chicago. At the time, my flight into Chicago and then to Cleveland had no delays.

Choosing ease over flexibility – I decided to check my carry-on suitcase rather than drag it onto the Boeing 757 that would be taking us to Chicago. I made it to the gate quickly, boarded the plan and I was on my way.

It was a beautiful morning to be flying out of Los Angeles. The skies were clear, visibility was excellent, and you could see the snow capped mountains in the
distance from our recent rain and snowfall. I had to snap a couple of pictures.

pretty nice view from a Boeing 757 leaving Los Angeles for Chicago

The flight was uneventful. However, when we arrived in Chicago – that was when the fun began.

The arrival was not too concerning. Yes there were some clouds, and yes there was some snow on the ground. However the runway and conditions were pretty good. We pulled up to the gate and I walked out into the terminal in Chicago.

Looking at the departures screen, I knew I was in for a long day – it seemed like everything was either delayed or in many cases cancelled. My flight, previously scheduled to leave at 2:41pm, was now showing a 5:00pm departure time. Ouch, especially since I was meeting some people in Cleveland for dinner at 6:30pm EST. I assumed I would be a little late.

Once I scanned the monitors a little more, I noticed an earlier flight to Cleveland that was leaving a little bit earlier – around my normal scheduled time. I walked over to the podium to see if I could get a standby to jump on the flight.

That is when I realized that I “suckered myself” (great advertisement below by Josh Rhea) by checking my luggage in Los Angeles. The agent confirmed it – there would not be enough time to move my luggage between planes and I could not go ahead of my luggage – only my luggage could go ahead of me.

Suckering yourself by Josh Rhea

Lesson learned.

At least one lesson – that I should never check my luggage even on trips that look ok. Since I am always able to board first – the overheads will never be full. Another lesson – avoid Chicago December thru February, that one can be harder to do.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wondering if and when I would make it to Cleveland. The time of the flight ranged from 4:40pm to 6:30pm central time. In reality, we did not get in the air until well after 7:00pm, making our arrival in Cleveland shortly after 9:00pm.

By the time I left the airport, it was practically 10:00pm and I missed the dinner – that was a real disappointment. I must say, the location of the car rental facilities at Cleveland are quite a distance from the airport and in the colder weather – it takes 15 minutes or so to get there once you board the shuttle.

Luckily, the Embassy Suites I was staying in still had room service open and available. The club sandwich I had there was simply amazing and hit the spot after a long day of travel. Hopefully tomorrow’s flight from Cleveland to Washington Dulles will be less eventful.