Sunday, August 12, 2007

The trip from hell...

Thanks to US Airways and an overzealous off duty cop in New Orleans, it'll be a while before I make another trip to an away game.

After US Airways cancelled our flight Thursday night, we decided to make a go at it again early Thursday morning. My friend Blake and I booked a flight on Southwest (we didn't want to take a chance getting screwed by US Airways the following day) and had absolutely no problems getting to New Orleans. Our friend Mia picked us up and it was off to our hotel. We spent the afternoon eating (Mother's is incredible) and shopping in the french quarter. Then it was back to the hotel to change for the game. We met up with Blake's in-laws at the Ritz Carlton for some pre-game libations before heading to the Superdome. The martinis were incredible.

So we head out for the game. My friend Michell's husband plays for the Saints and she had a parking pass for the stadium, so we hitched a ride with her. There was so much traffic - we almost missed kick off! But thanks to Michell's willingness to risk arrest by driving on the wrong side of the street (not to mention she'd had a couple of martinis - tsk, tsk), I made it to the Superdome in time to see Ryan get his first tackle of the season on kickoff. Ryan had an awesome game - he even had a catch for eight yards. The Bills were victorious and pulled off a 13-10 win.

After the game, everything went downhill. There is a post-game ritual in the NFL - after the game, we head to the visiting team's parking lot to see our guys before they head back to Buffalo. Long story short, this napoleon-complexed off duty police officer threatened to arrest me. He told me if I crossed the barricade, he'd put me in handcuffs and arrest me. I was just floored. I've traveled to countless away games and I have NEVER experienced anything like this. It was a little traumatic. Even the head security guy for the Buffalo Bills got into it with this dude. It made everything really stressful. Even after Ryan had come out of the locker room and had come over to see us, the cop was still harassing us! At one point, he obviously thought the whole situation was a joke because he was laughing. Let me tell you - there is nothing funny about being threatened with an arrest. Trust that the New Orleans police department will be hearing from me. Thankfully there was this wonderfully apologetic woman security guard who made it clear that the people of New Orleans aren't like that cop, that she was sorry we were treated so poorly, and that she hoped that we'd come back. She was probably the saving grace of the evening. Because of her, I will go back to the Big Easy, even though there was nothing easy about this trip.

We left the stadium feeling traumatized and defeated. Knowing we all had early flights out the next day, we decided to turn in for the night (thus foregoing a trip to par-tay on Bourbon street).

The next morning, I got up bright and early to head to the airport. I check in, only to find out that my US Airways flight is delayed an hour-and-a-half. I wasn't happy, but figured I'd just deal with it. We had a layover at Reagan Int'l but we didn't have to get off the plane, so I wasn't worried about making any connections.

Boy, was I wrong. The Buffalo passengers stayed on the plane when we got to Reagan. The flight attendant came and told us we had to de-plane and proceeded to explain that our plane was going to Indianapolis, not Buffalo. At some point in time, the geniuses at US Airways switched the flight unbeknownst to us. Even worse, the people in New Orleans were informed about the change and were told not to let us board the flight because we'd get stuck at Reagan. This was never communicated to us. We made our way to a customer service desk and were informed that we'd have to spend the night because NOTHING was available that night for Buffalo. US Airways had cancelled so many flights that weekend that they were playing catch up. There was no guarantee we'd even get out the next morning! Mind you, Ryan is at home with Will and had to leave to get back to camp early Sunday morning, so spending the night at Reagan was not an option.

Another passenger and I inquired about any flights to our area - they had a 9:30 p.m. flight heading to Syracuse. We told them to book us - worst case scenario we'd take that flight and then drive the three hours back to Buffalo. But I started to think - the way US Airways cancelled flights, there was no reason to believe they wouldn't cancel that flight.

I got on the phone with Southwest Airlines - they had several flights back to Buffalo leaving from BWI. We booked a flight and took an $80 cab ride to the other airport. We checked in without issue, boarded our flight on time, and made it in to Buffalo by 8:30 p.m.. Have I said before how much I love Southwest? That airline freakin' rocks. I know they have their own problems, but my last couple of experiences with the airline have been incredible. Contrast Southwest to the idiots at US Airways and there is just no comparison.

Take my advice - avoid US Airways at all cost. They are idiots, they don't give a squat about the passengers and can care less whether or not you have a life. I rarely say never, but I will NEVER fly the airline again. I've got to get on the phone right now and attempt to get my ticket refunded. No doubt that's going to be fun!!!!

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