Remember when I said I’d gotten some travel vouchers from United?  My parents are planning a trip, and I asked my dad if he could use them.  “What airline?” was his question.  “United,” I replied.  “I’d rather walk,” he said.

United has merged with Continental.

Now, flying to Houston was painless.  Getting back, not so much.  I arrived at the airport at 07:15 for my 09:20 flight – and discovered that said flight had been Cancelled.  Oh.  Joy.  So off to the ticket counter goes I to find out what my options were.

Continental had rebooked my flight.  For TUESDAYBZZZZT!  Sorry, wrong answer!  Well, they could book me on the 6:00PM flight.  That was all they could do.

OK, how about Phoenix?  I can get a rental car and drive down to Tucson.  Sure, they can do that.  There’s a flight leaving at 09:10, or they can put me on standby for the 11:50 flight.  The earlier the better, so I have a boarding pass for the 09:10 flight to Phoenix, boarding to begin at 08:35, and to compensate me for my inconvenience, they give me a $6 voucher for food from any vendor in the airport.  By the time I leave the ticket counter it’s 08:15.

By the time I make it through security theater (don’t even ask about that) and get to the gate, it’s 08:50.

And boarding has not started yet.

We finally start boarding at 09:00.  We push back from the gate at about 09:25.  And sit on the tarmac for thirty minutes.  Seems there’s a hydraulic problem.  We’re going back to the gate.  We get back to the gate about 10:00.  And sit.  Oh, wait!  They’re going to let us off the plane while it’s being repaired – no, they have another plane for us!

At a different terminal.

It’s the 11:50 flight they offered to put me on standby for.  I don’t know what they did, but they had one completely full flight when we pushed back from the gate.

At 12:20.

An hour into the flight, we have a “medical emergency” – a passenger is ill.  However, they decided to continue on to Phoenix rather than divert.  We land in Phoenix at 12:50 local time.  We wait while EMT’s check out the ill passenger and take her off the plane first.  I’m in the back of the aircraft.  Debarkation takes twenty minutes.  I head for the car rentals.

Do you know how much it costs to rent a car one-way from Sky Harbor to Tucson International?  Don’t ask.  Somehow I doubt it will be a reimbursable expense.

I call my wife once I’m in the car on the way home.  I’m going to be home in time for the birthday dinner at The Cheesecake Factory for my stepdaughter and my neice’s husband.

No I’m not.  My mother is in the hospital.  Dad took her in at 03:00 this morning with shortness of breath.  She has atrial fibrillation and fluid buildup around her heart, and isn’t getting enough oxygen.  This is the second trip in a month for this condition.  Apparently they didn’t adjust her meds properly.  So instead of going home and then out to dinner, I went straight to the hospital.

Now I’m home.

Houston is a 17-hour shot down I-10 from my house.  Next time I think I’ll drive.

But Knoxville is next weekend.  I hope American Airlines is better.

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