Estimated read time: 4 minutes
I was heading to Berlin in June 2017 to speak at the Content Marketing Forum. Upgrade has been requested from Chicago to London (lie down seats are nice for overnight flights – obviously!). All my props and clothes fit in my one carry on and jacket.
Ready to go. The layover in Chicago wasn’t super long but also not super short. Nothing to worry about!
And then at the Cedar Rapids Airport we were delayed! Over an hour. So no way I would make my London connection now. Ugh.
Based on crew behavior, I was guessing we were going to be delayed so was ready to be second in line to brainstorm with the American Airlines ground crew on how to get me to Europe once they announced the delay!
Then we heard the announcement: There was actually a United Airlines flight leaving from a neighboring gate shortly. While it would be super tight to catch my flight, we thought that United flight would be a better chance. Since it was so close to boarding for the United flight it was actually quite the exercise to get moved over. One had to release the ticket. And the other had to grab it – while she was also starting to board the flight.
The United and American staffs all did their best. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ They moved me.
Related: The Points Guy wrote about my return flight where I was actually downgraded from an exit row with lots of room to no room. Here’s a picture. Read their article here.
And then just as the United flight was ready to board … SURPRISE, my original flight was now ready to go. Boarding All Groups!
I immediately thought out loud: Can I switch back?
I tried and the agents tried but given there were seconds left bacially, we couldn’t get the computers to talk to each other! But, the people talked to each other!
You might wonder: Why the hoopla to switch back? Here’s why: United and American flights aren’t even in the same terminal at O’Hare. My United flight was landing in the far corner of Terminal 1 and the American flight was taking off from Terminal 3. I landed at 4:35 and the London flight was taking off at 5:10.
And with the American flight now back on the facts had changed! Anyway, I was flying United now to Chicago. Once there it was quite the hike or sprints. I was actually going to turn on my Map my Run app to see how long of a run it would be. But I was able to get off the plane so quick that I forgot.
Anyway, I started sprinting, pushing my rollerbag. “On your right! Passing on your right!”
I strategically took escalators as a quick breathing break!
“Need some oxygen?” – a pilot behind me asked. “I’ve been there.”
Now, I run and just ran 3.5 miles this morning but running with a bag in an airport seems to be much harder.
A + for effort I guess! I did see that American had upgraded me to business class. Yay! Now, just had to get there!
I was counting the gates …. H … K1, 3 and 5 is next. And the door is closed! Ugh. Now, there were at least three more London directs for the day and a few London to Berlin flights the next day so I had options, but let’s not give up yet!
“Ugh.” is really all I said when I arrived at the gate. <Holds up boarding pass in defeat>
“Mr. Trappe, let me see if they can still take you.”
<talks on phone>
“Okay. Good to go but your upgrade was given away and we only have a middle seat in an exit row left.”
“I’ll take it.”
Plenty of leg room at least (and of course I was on a flight).
“I never heard that they reopen the door,” one even said.
They did. My Ugh turned to Whew!
So would I recommend the switcheroo again? It depends. It seemed the best option, but switching basically competing but friendly airlines on one trip like this does create the problem of connecting gates being a ways apart from each other.
By the way, the only reason I was able to do this is because I didn’t have checked luggage.
Since I was traveling solo I could make the sprint work – though barely and only because they were nice enough to open the door! ?
Travel is a bit of a game for sure. Ultimately, it’s about getting to where we need to go. Comfort is nice but I was okay to give it up here.
Travel story No. 1 from my June 2017 Europe trip ✅ . More to come … probably!
Ich bin ein Storyteller!