A day trip to New York from Atlanta: You can’t plan your life around flights

This weekend has been physically exhausting for me, though it is no fault but my own as I try to scatter myself amongst several events. The flip side is that because I’ve learned how to best utilize miles, points and airline elite status, I’m better able to utilize my traveling for a more seamless experience.

On Friday, I flew to Atlanta for a Delta Jet Drag event where myself and a team of other bloggers and media had a chance to pull a 757 down the Tarmac in support of cancer research. It was very fun and rewarding, and I thank Delta and those that put on the event for allowing me to participate.

The rest of the weekend was the Frequent Traveler University Alumni in downtown Atlanta, which I had planned on going to. Unfortunately, with the passing of a family member 2 months ago, there was a memorial service planned in New York for the same day, so I decided to book a round-trip, same-day ticket from Atlanta to La Guardia, allowing me to make it in time for the church service at 11:30a, and a later luncheon, with enough time for me to make my way back to the airport and subsequently back down to Atlanta.

It’s 3:30a, and I woke up to the sound of my buzzing alarm clock on my phone…a sound I was dreading since the day before, already running low on sleep. I stumbled out of bed, to my briefcase, and then downstairs to grab an Uber to the airport, where I was in the AAdmiral’s Club about an hour before my 6:30a departure. At around 5:50a or so, I made myself to the gate, only to be greeted by the pilot and gate agent chatting, with disturbed looks on their faces. After getting a bad vibe at the situation, I approached the desk to ask whether the flight was in risk of cancellation, to which I was replied with the dreaded answer of “yes.” Oh, boy. My perfect plan to arrive into NY in time was going fast down the tubes.

Cancelled AA Flight

 

I quickly shot back over the AAdmiral’s Club, where I knew the agent inside would be free, and would be able to help me without the barrage of other distraught passengers. As we sorted through the remaining flight options, I had basically two choices: wait for a later non-stop American Eagle flight, and arrive into LGA within minutes of the start of the service, or high-tail it to Delta gate for a non-stop Delta flight to LGA. I was put onto a flight in an hour, which would leave me with about an hour to spare once in NY, which was okay, but cutting it close. There was a sooner flight departing in 15 minutes, but the agent assured me I’d never make it because it was in a different terminal. Wanting to confirm, I looked on the Delta app on my phone to find that the flight in question was only departing 7 gates down. She quickly booked me on this flight, and I high-tailed it too the gate, to make it just in-time before the boarding door closed.

There’s several take-aways of my day:

  • You can’t plan your life around travel. You need to plan your travel around your life. In this case, I nearly missed the church service because my flight was canceled. Though I didn’t otherwise have a ton of time to spare in the days prior, perhaps it would have been better to fly out the night before.
  • Having an airline club membership is essential to getting re-booked, without having to deal with hoards of frustrated passengers at the single agent at the gate podium.
  • Always know your options. For me, it was knowing there was an alternate Delta flight, and knowing it was departing only a few gates away. Since my original AA flight had been cancelled due to a mechanical reason, I had full control to re-book my ticket on an alternate airline, something non-frequent flyers may not be in tune to know.

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Comments

  1. says

    Sorry to hear about the loss in your family. Having travelled to funerals/service in the past, I understand the need to be there for family/friends and for yourself.
    As for FTU roundtable, I don’t recall seeing you there but then again the main part of the event was on Saturday. Overall it’s one of the best FTUs I’ve ever attended but then again I feel one’s experience may differ depending on the roundtable you were in. How was your Delta flight? I recall reading you used to be a Delta fanboy.

    • says

      Delta was okay, though I was in an unfavorable seat, so couldn’t speak highly of it from that standpoint. I also appreciate greatly how AA gives EXPs food onboard whereas Delta does nothing for their elites. I left ATL on Saturday morning, but came back during dinner. I was there all day Sunday, though.

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