No RSS feeds have been linked to this section.
« Roche Social Media Summit - Part 1 | Main | You Tube Tuesday #177 »

Getting There is Half the Fun?

Monday morning I woke up bright and early. Do you remember those days when you had an exciting day planned and no matter how little sleep you got you were still ready to go? That was Monday. I was about to head off to Orlando Florida to the Roche Social Media Summit.

I was only going to stay until Wednesday so I packed all I needed into a carry on. I left early and got the airport with an hour and a half to spare before boarding (which is just the way I like it).

The first leg of the flight was fine. I had an aisle seat next to a nice gentleman who was just talkative enough to make you comfortable but not be a pest. Things were looking good!

The pilot announces to the flight attendants to prepare for landing in Dallas (my layover). As soon as I made sure my seat belt was fastened and my tray was in the locked position I hear the pilot say, “We’ve been told by Dallas that we need to stay at a holding pattern. We are not sure why just yet but I will update you when I know.” No biggie. I had a little over an hour to get to my connecting flight and we were going to land a little early so like I said, no biggie.

“Alright ladies and gentleman,” the pilot began. “There is some weather in front of us that we need to get around so we are going to approach from the North East to land so it should just be a few minutes here and we should be ready to go.” Again, no biggie.

It was only 2 minutes maybe at most when the pilots voice again boomed over the speakers and said, “Alright folks, they’ve just closed the Dallas airport.” A very large sigh was heard throughout the cabin. “We are going to head to Austin to refuel and see what we are going to do there.

30 minutes or so later we land in Austin. While we are on the ground the pilot says that we are going to sit tight and see what happens before we take the next steps. At this point people are chatting a lot talking about what to do. Kids are getting restless and crying. Some passengers are angry and start yelling at the attendants who can only say that they know nothing and that there is nothing they can do.

The pilot comes on, “We’ve been told they are going to open the airport in 30 minutes so we are going to sit tight and get up when we get the go ahead.” I figured since my connecting flight was probably in the same boat I was in that I would not have an issue missing it. Seems logical since the airport was closed right?

Flight attendants were coming around passing out cookies and snacks for everyone when the pilot came on again. “We’ve just been told it’s going to be another hour before they open the airport so if anyone wants to get off here and try to find another way through there is a bus outside that will take you to the terminal but please know that your luggage will not be able to be retrieved.” No one moved. Even a guy who said his final destination was Austin. He needed his luggage and was willing to wait and see what was happening.

I called the travel agency that booked my flight to see if they could help me out at all. After a few checked they found a flight from Austin to Houston to Miami to Orlando that I could take. “Would you like me to book that for you Mr. Sim,” and the call dropped. THE CALL DROPPED! I tried to call back and as soon as the phone was ringing the pilot said, “We’ve received word that Dallas is opened so we are going to prepare for take off folks.” Great.

When we finally land in Dallas the place is a mad house. People are yelling and crowding around customer service tables trying to get to their destinations. I check for my connecting flight and it was gone. BEEP BOOP BEEP. I check my pocket and my pump is showing a low battery alarm. It was at that point that I realized I did not pack any batteries. No biggie, I need to find a flight to Florida and will just buy a battery when I land or at the hotel. My first priority is to find a flight.

After I finally got up to the counter I told the agent about missing my flight and he said he could put me on standby for a flight leaving at 8:30pm (it was around 6pm at this point) and that since so many people were missing flights I should get a seat no problem. Plus I was fourth on the list. AWESOME.

I called my wife to let her know, I am sure I tweeted a few times, and I texted some friends that were already at the hotel. It was then that I realized my phone was dying.

Since I hadn’t eating anything all day (I even skipped the snack) I grabbed a bite from the food court and found a plug to recharge the iPhone. When 8:00 rolled around I was told the flight was pushed back an hour. Then, 10pm. 10:30. 10:45. 11:30. And finally midnight.

I waited because I knew I had a shot to get a seat. I knew this was the only fight. I knew I was number 4 on the list. I got up to walk to the restroom when I saw a list of the Standby passengers for the fight and did not see my name on the first screen. Nor the second. Turns out, I was now number 38 on the list. I was so angry but apparently if you are an Admiral Club member or have had a worse case of delays then you get priority. This sucked but what was I going to do?

The flight that was sure to have so many extra seats took 2 people from the standby list so being fourth wouldn’t have helped much. Again the yelling and crowding occurred. I stood in line and felt every ounce of energy I had leave my body.

The lady in front of me was also trying to get to Orlando with her husband. I heard that there was flight at 7am that she could be put on Stand by on and there was a flight at 8:30 that she could be confirmed on. She went with both and went on her merry way.

When I got to the counter I put my Standby boarding pass on the counter and stood before that rep a defeated ninja with no hope at all.

I explained what happened to the woman behind the counter and she started clicking away at the keyboard. “Were you late to the airport sir, is that why you missed your flight?”

“Well our flight was sent to Austin because the airport shut down so when I got here my flight was already gone.” Aren’t there notes that explain this stuff in the system?

“I apologize Mr. Simmons but you were not listed properly in our system. You should have had a confirmed seat on a flight last night because it was not your fault you missed the flight. The rep who helped you listed you incorrectly.” No flipping way! “Let me change your status and see what we can do.”

She clicked around some more and I was just working on keeping my blood from boiling.

“No there is a flight at 7:00 that I can put you on Standby for and one…” I interrupted her and said, “I really want to know the next flight I can be confirmed on because if I cannot make it to the meeting on time in Orlando then I am going to turn around and go home.”

Clicky clicky went the keyboard and she said, “Oh wow, there is one seat on the 7am flight that I can confirm you on. Would you mind an aisle?” DUH! “And would you be willing and able to assist if there was an emergency?” DOUBLE DUH! “Well Mr. Simmons you may not think so but this is your lucky day! I have an exit row aisle seat confirmed at 7am for you tomorrow morning.” Lucky day? Not so much but at least I had a flight.


So now what to do? It was after 1am and the flight began boarding at 6:30am. With my typical need to be an hour and half early and feeling the way I did I decided to just stay at the airport. American Airlines provided a stack of fold out cots and a few blankets that were swiped up quickly. I grabbed a cot and found a nice corner with a power outlet to post up at. I called everyone I needed to and let them know what was happening. I grabbed my neck pillow and my jacket as a blanket and tried to go to sleep.


I pulled out my pump and saw an error I have never seen. NO POWER.

The only thing my pump showed what the suspended warning little filled in circle and the empty battery icon. Not good at all.

I got up and asked a couple that was sleeping near me if they would watch my cot while I tried to find a battery. They were very nice and agreed to as I set out.

I first went to the AA counter and explained to the gentleman that I needed a battery for my insulin pump. He understood but said that everything was closed in the airport. I asked if they use radios or anything that might they might have batteries somewhere for backup. He didn’t seem to know but told me to try with the TSA guys at the security check it.

I walked over and explained to one of the gentleman the issue. I was trying to stay calm but honestly I was freaking out.

Just then an older TSA worker came over and asked what was wrong. I explained to him that I was on an insulin pump and I needed a battery. “Are you a type 1?” I nodded. “Well don’t worry because we will find you a battery no matter what. Let me see what we have here.”

He went into a drawer that all kinds of pens and pads of paper and batteries of all sizes. He found one to try but it failed. He kept digging and finding batteries but they kept failing the battery test. I was getting really worried. He came over and said, “Try this one, if it doesn’t work we will have someone from the main office here bring you a fresh pack.” I opened the battery compartment and slid it in. Sure enough it worked! I thanked them over and over for their help. I saw a comment card and asked if I could fill one out in praise of their assistance. They appreciated it very much.

Just then the American Airlines rep that I originally asked about the batteries with came over and said, “Did you find any batteries because if not, my boss said I can drive to Wal-Mart and pick you up some.” It was one of the few times in my life I wanted to hug a complete stranger. I told him I was okay but that I appreciated his help.

I got back to my cot just in time because another guy was asking if anyone was using it. My new found friends told him it was spoken for and I took it back to my spot and tried to get some shut eye under the florescent lights of the airport.

I didn’t really sleep but kept instead kept dozing in and out. At 5:30 I got up and went to the bathroom to freshen up. It is weird to be in an airport brushing your teeth, cleaning your face, and getting ready for the day while people are walking in and out. Oh well. I grabbed breakfast at McDonalds and walked all the way to the other side of the terminal to catch my flight. When they started boarding I lined up with my group, got on the plane, put my earbuds in, put on my seatbelt and neck pillow, fell asleep and woke up in Orlando.

I made it, finally.

Reader Comments (15)

Haha! Oh George! I don't know if it is funny to hear you tell the story or read it in print! I can't wait to hear your perspective on the rest of the Roche adventures.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

A happy ending, thank God! I also had a 12-hour ordeal getting there. But SO worth it.

Nice to see you, Mr. Simmons :)

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAmyT

Jeez! What an ordeal! I'm glad you finally made it but sheesh!

I love when there are nice people around though...its freaky not having a back up battery (I never have one on me). I'm glad everything worked out!!

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda W

Wow. Craziness! Oh, and I had a low battery alert at 3:30 a.m. this morning. I made myself get up and change it... :P

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCara

I'm glad you made it :)

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Oh my... What an incredible ordeal, and I'm so sorry that materliazed that way! Why is it that someone's stupidity or mistakes ALWAYS seem to cause us more headaches than we should have - if that first idiot would have just entered you into the system... Oh well. Those battery-offering and cot-saving folk bring a smile to the face, even despite the circumstances. You did make it (thankfully) and it's obvious that everyone was so incredibly blessed to have that chance to see you, either again or for the first time. Personally, I can't express how AWEsome it was to finally meet you in person! Can't wait to read your thoughts on the rest of the DSummit, too!

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Hoskins

It sounds like you should have received an award once you arrived in Orlando. What a nightmare. Drive next year?

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacquie

I was wondering what happened, I was nervous because you stopped tweeting nor did I see anything from you while you were there. So awesome that people were willing to step up and help. In a was your lucky day.

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRenata Porter

Oh my gosh. I knew a little bit via Scottie letting us know what the deal was after he spoke with you. Even though I joked I wanted the reception you got at the hotel.... dude, you deserved it and SO much more!! SO freakin' glad you made it, hon. Miss you, tons.

July 1, 2010 | Registered CommenterCrystal

WOW! That's a great story....I'm so happy you made it WITH a battery!!!!

July 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

What a rough beginning to a trip. I've fortunately never experienced traveling delays like that so I can only imagine how frustrating it is. On the other hand, the voluntary assistance you got at the airport in finding a battery for your pump was heartwarming! It is so good to hear sometimes that there are people out there who do give a crap :) I'm glad you made it and hope you had a great time!

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterStacey D.

George, sorry for your horrific journey. It was great to see you walking through the airport door. And I'm glad your journey back was a lot easier.

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBernard Farrell

So much travel craziness! I'm grateful for the kind folks you met and even more grateful you made it!
Miss you so much and LYLB!
Kelly K

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterk2

You are a real trooper for simply sticking with it and attending. I didn't think those "cots" existed except on TV... I was so relieved once you finally made it. You deserve an accidental first class upgrade for whenever your next DIRECT flight is. :-)

July 6, 2010 | Registered CommenterScott K. Johnson

You were at Roche? I was there too. I think they are great and they should lecture Glaxo on patient care, really! I just love that AA rep. A true angel when you needed to pick up your mood!

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>