O’Hare Mayhem

Without a doubt, today has been the worst travel experience. Ever.

I’m finally getting on a plane, but not by much. I landed from a redeye at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) at 5:15 AM – looking to fly to Ottawa (YOW) at 6:30. As I disembarked, the airport was very dark. And there were buckets everywhere. And water everywhere.

Turns out Chicago got about a foot of rain in 2 hours. Whoops.

The consequences of that are pretty bad. First, the roads flooded. Nobody can get to ORD from within Chicago (more on that).

Second – this means canceled flights. All flights to YOW before 1PM canceled. Re-booking looked attractive until I was told that all the connecting fights through IAD, YYZ, etc. would also be canceled – due to no aircrews able to get to the airport on the ground.

Third – getting help is a challenge. I had to wait over an hour to get a boarding pass and get officially rebooked, despite a handy SMS notification. The kiosk was not working. And the line was super-long – because – again – no airport staff. I tried calling the premier reservations lines. No dice. Those are not answered offshore, but by people in Illinois. Who also couldn’t get to work.

Fourth – no food. Nobody could deliver supplies. Roof leaks ruined a lot of the rest.

Fifth – the mayhem continues. My 1PM flight is leaving at 4PM local time. It is confirmed to go. It will be the first flight to YOW. There are many not getting through until tomorrow. And many more trying to get into Canada in any way – given same or worse situations.

Sixth – staying cool? Forget it – the airport is a mess with all the water leaks and damage.

I’ll be 10 hours late by the time I get home. The consolation – there are others in worse shape. I owe the good folks at United Airlines and the ORD Red Carpet Club a big thank you for making things as best as possible under the circumstances. They did not have much to work with.

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