Flight Delay and Health Concerns

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 26th, 2009 • Living with Chronic PainPrint Print

My United Airlines flight was delayed until the early morning hours. I am concerned I’ll end up sick if I’m flying late, and it’s cold, and I’m hanging around the airport for four hours instead of one, and I’m flying across the country for over four hours. Oh yeah, and I’ll arrive at my home airport at almost 4:00 am, which means I’ll have to drive home half asleep. Not exactly safe.

The other problem is that I didn’t bring a heavy jacket on this trip, but rather a light fleece one. And some of the planes don’t have blankets. I thought I could buy a sweatshirt in the airport for like $20. I did see one clothing store with sweatshirts at the entrance of the airport, but they were $45. One of the store clerks said I could get a sweatshirt in the concourse where my flight was taking off, purportedly for half the amount. Turns out he was wrong.

Meanwhile the walk from the airport entrance to my gate was very long — including a couple of moving walkways (one of which didn’t work) and a long escalator trip upstairs — and two flight attendants who walked right into me from behind, which hurt my feet. When I moved to the side and told them to go ahead, they were like, “Thank you,” apparently oblivious to why. Argh. Makes me want to punch them.

I don’t want to risk the throngs for another round trip cruise across the airport, and more importantly, I don’t think my ankle will last the whole way.

It seems that whenever I try to save money with a health issue, I end up regretting it! The irony is that those of us with health concerns drain our money for uninsured medical treatment, meaning we have less money to toss around for these conveniences. Oy. Usually I don’t fuss about spending for my health, but this time I just didn’t feel motivated to pay so much for an item I’ll never use again.

Anyhow, now I’m trying to see a supervisor to request delaying my flight until tomorrow, so that I can go to a hotel tonight. It will cost quite a bit, but again, it’s worth it in the end.

It’s possible I’ll be able to use my Marriott rewards. The Marriott hotel I stayed at in Chicago reimbursed me one night’s stay, because somehow my “do not disturb” sign was removed from my door overnight, and housekeeping woke me up about five hours after I went to sleep. The Marriott is always awesome and accommodating, so their response was to comp me 25,000 points. Rock on.

At this moment, I’m at the gate for a trip that just took off to Brazil. There are some agents here but no customers, so I can get the attention I need. I can’t go to United customer service, because the line is crazy long, and I won’t be able to wait standing that whole time. But the supervisor is not showing up to this gate. I just asked the agent to call again.

When I was at my gate earlier, I asked if my flight will have blankets. The clerk did not want to be helpful or accommodating in any way. He told me I would have to wait until my flight arrived to find out if it had any blankets. I told him there were certainly other ways of finding out if the flight would have blankets. He said sometimes the flights are supposed to have blankets but show up without them. I asked if he would please get a blanket off the flight departing to Denver. He didn’t want to. 

I stayed in his face, calmly but firmly insisting that my blanket issue get resolved. Eventually he referred me to another agent. She also said that I would need to wait until my flight arrived. When I said I needed the issue resolved immediately, however, and asked if she could please get a blanket for me from the plane boarding to Denver, she did that, which made me instantly love her.

Unfortunately, the blanket wasn’t wrapped. OK so maybe I’m fussy, but with this swine flu thing going around, I didn’t want to risk a used blanket. So I thanked the agent, then left the blanket on a seat at the gate, where she couldn’t see I had ditched it. Then I went off in search of hand sanitizer.

I also need to get some food, because they don’t have any healthy veggie options on the flight. Blah. I wish I were horizontal right now.

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