We boarded the airport shuttle at 8 a.m. in Albuquerque. It was the beginning of an adventure.
Those in service positions
Our airport shuttle driver and his coworker were certain someone among us didn’t have a reservation, pretty much accused us. We all had reservations. The ride to the airport was filled with foul language between the two.
Nine Iowa State employees were booked on the same flights: Albuquerque to Denver, Denver to Des Moines. The United Airlines computer system was down so flights were delayed. We were lead to believe all United flights were delayed so we should make our connecting flights.
Several times, the flight attendants asked us to allow those with connecting flights to disembark first in Denver.
Almost immediately a woman several rows behind me announced in a loud voice, “You should let us off first because we need to get to our next plane.” She was starting another sentence when my assertiveness kicked in. “Ma’am, we’re all trying to make connecting flights.” Just as we left the plane in Denver, we learned our connecting plane was gone.
Two of our group got the last two seats to Des Moines that day. Three took flights to Minneapolis, two took flights to Kansas City and that left Dustin and I. We thought we would rent a car and drive. But we couldn’t get a car unless we would bring it back to Denver or pay $1 per mile. We became Greyhound passengers, leaving Denver at 6:30 p.m.
I was thinking the people on the bus were quite civil until somewhere in Nebraska. One woman yelled from the back of the bus at the driver, “What? We get no movies on this trip?” Surely there was a better way to ask. I don’t know if he didn’t hear her or chose to ignore her, but the driver didn’t start movies for quite some time.
Long after midnight a guy in a sport coat moved to the back of the bus where Dustin and I were. He declared in lots of bad language that a fellow traveler up front was bothering him. He started a conversation with a woman that sounded like we were going to get a condensed version of his life. Another man asked him to please stop because people were trying to sleep. The autobiography ended.
I had a nice man insist I wear his jacket when he noticed I appeared to be cold. Dustin and I hadn’t dressed for 13 hours on a bus overnight. We’d left our luggage in Denver to wing its way to Des Moines.
We got into Omaha about 5 a.m., where everyone had to get off the bus. Dustin helped a young lady find a connecting bus and move her large suitcase. There was one empty seat when we got back on the bus. Dustin was across the aisle from a woman who was sure everyone was bothering her including stepping on her toes which were in the aisle.
I didn’t know Dustin other than as an IT coworker when we made our decision in Denver. I couldn’t have picked a nicer, more considerate and enjoyable companion. He’s my kids’ age and through our 24 hours together, we got to know each other pretty well.
We’re all given some trying situations among strangers. That doesn’t mean civility should be abandoned. Many people rise to the occasion; some don’t.
If you’re wondering about our coworkers, the Minneapolis travelers rented a car and drove to Ames. One Kansas City traveler stayed there with her daughter because she and her husband had planned to go to Kansas City on Friday. The husband of the other Kansas City traveler drove down to pick her up. I suspect we’ll all try to deal with the customer service people at United in a civil way to let them know we don’t think we were treated very well.
Travelers Wait as United Scrambles
Airline Still Unsure Why Computers Failed, Grounding Flights