By Alan Minton, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Cornerstone
You know how people say to not write an email or blog post when you’re angry? Screw ‘em. I am writing anyway.
Let me set the stage. I have a meeting in Chicago from 9:30 until 4:30. I made a reservation on United that would get me to Chicago by 8 and back home by 10. I chastised other meeting participants for coming in the night before and incurring hotel and dining expenses. I am the efficient business traveler who is a sound financial steward of my companies travel budget. Then it started to rain in Chicago and I became the jerk who showed up late to his own meeting while everyone else was prepared and ready to work.
It started this morning when I got up at 5 and was going to go running, take a shower and be at the airport on time. I picked up my phone to select some inspiring tunes form my 2.5 mile amble and noticed that I had a message from United and Tripit. I opened the United message and this was what I got.
As of 3:08 a.m. on July 19, United flight UA1575 from Columbus, OH (CMH) to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) on July 19 is canceled. To see available options, go to united.com/flightupdates, access an airport kiosk or see a United representative at the airport.
I then opened my Tripit email and they shared the same info plus a link to alternative flights that met my date and time preferences and quickly identified an American Airlines flight at the same time. I attempted to book online but was told that since it was within 6 hours of departure I had to speak with an American agent. AARRGH!
After futzing around with the United site and attempting to rebook I decided to call. My pleasant welcome greeting explained that my hold time was going to be 30+ minutes. I put the phone on speaker and hopped in the shower. I then, shaved, got dressed, made coffee, got in the car, drove to the airport, parked, and got in 50+ person line at the United counter. Then I got a live person on the line. The gentleman was very pleasant and apologetic about the cancelation. While we did not share the same primary language we were able to discover that I had been rebooked on the same flight the next day. I explained that unless he had a time machine it would be a bit of a challenge to leave tomorrow and return today. I shared with him my discovery of the American Airlines flight and he made an effort to book me on that flight. I left my United line and got in the American line. Almost immediately a pleasant older lady with an iPad came up to me. I explained my predicament and she let me know the American flight I wanted was delayed but there were seats. She put me in the priority line. At that point my nice United rep explained that he had me rebooked on my American flight. I told this to the hip grandmother and she walked up to the counter and produced my boarding pass in minutes.
Now I understand that weather is unpredictable and that flights get canceled and delayed all the time. It is this very frequency that puzzles me. If flights are affected by weather every day I would think there would be a better way to handle cancelations.
Well there is but it requires you to book on Expedia. You see for the last several years Cornerstone has been powering the Expedia schedule change service. So if I were to have booked on Expedia versus the airlines direct site in a misguided effort to potentially save a couple of bucks I would have received an email or a call, whichever one I preferred, informing me of my predicament with suggestions for a resolution.
But I didn’t and now here I sit with egg on my face, nourished with Mountain Dew and M&Ms watching two ladies groom their impossibly small dogs while my team commences work in the windy city and prepares to serve me crow at lunch….. If I ever get there.