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I Hate Airlines

It’s about 4:30pm in Chicago, 5:30 in Cleveland. We have now been at
O’Hare airport for eight and a half hours. We’re supposed to leave in
an hour.

I am doubtful.

Today’s travel adventure started with a comically brief email from
United, at about 11:45 last night, informing us that our 6:00am flight
to Washington Dulles had been canceled. No reason was given.

I called United and was informed that their systems were down and I
needed to call back in half an hour. Half an hour later, they told me
to call back in an hour. Ten minutes later, I called again out of
curiosity, and they were able to process a reroute through Chicago.

So we arrived in our former home city at about 8:00 am, expecting to
head for Beijing at noon. Only as soon as I turned on my phone I got
another lovely United email saying the flight had been delayed until
3:30. Half an hour later, a new e-mail said 5:30.

Fortunately, since we had originally expected a five-hour layover in
Washington, we took the precaution of buying one-day passes to the
United Lounge. These are normally $50 per person, but I found
certificates on eBay for $15 apiece. This may have been the best $30
we’ve ever spent. Instead of fighting for uncomfortable chairs in the
hot terminal, we luxuriated in reasonably comfy armchairs in luscious
air conditioning, accompanied by free snacks, wifi, espresso, and
booze. No beds, but it was one heck of a lot more comfortable than it
could have been.

We just got notice of another delay (15 minutes this time) and
simultaneous notice of boarding in five minutes. As I said, I’m
doubtful. But at this point nothing but waiting feels real.