|Passengers wait in line. Credit: CNN|
Many travelers received refunds or rebookings without any penalties, but there were still hours of frustration for most. Customer service lines were jammed with calls, with people waiting up to an hour and a half before speaking with anyone. Obviously, this is not the first weather-related disruption for travelers, just think about everything we've gone through this year alone--blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes. The best anyone can do is play the hand they are dealt.
For example, the guy I mentioned earlier, Chris, was making his way back to New York after visiting friends on the West Coast. He landed in Chicago, not sure if his flight would be canceled, hoping it would just be delayed. Despite the storm not being as extreme as expected in New York, he still ended up stranded in O'Hare. Luckily for him, United gave him a free hotel room for the night. But for Chris, a night in a hotel near the airport was no way to spend the night. He called his friend Josh, who just happened to be at my apartment for an end-of-summer soiree on our roof. Voila! Instant night out in Chicago. An unfortunate string of events that led to a fun evening meeting some new people.
I am aware that not everyone can get this lucky. Many people did not have friends in the cities where they were stranded. But the story does make a point that there is a way to make light of every situation. So no matter what kind of misfortune comes your way while traveling, there is always a way to make it better, more enjoyable.
This may seem a little too upbeat and optimistic for all those who faced horrific travel issues this weekend, and for those people, I truly am sorry. I am no stranger to those events. The best you can do is grin and bear it, and hope you get a damn good refund from your airline. If not, a good stiff drink should do the trick.