Dread O’Hare

-Hi all Jack here- at Marscon Larry mentioned this and I realized it hadn’t made it over here. From the Book of Faces circa 2019…

American Airlines has destroyed society. It is chaos here. Not like the Before Times, when airlines didn’t sell 87 tickets for an airplane that only holds 70 passengers.

The demon lord, American Airlines, offered me a voucher. I declared, nay to your wickedness, foul beast! I bought a 1st class ticket three months ago, you already ruined one whole day of my book tour this week. I should not be cast out amongst the pathetic Bumped!  But American Airlines laughed, and said foolish mortal, if you don’t “volunteer” then you will be bumped anyway, and be banished to the outer darkness of Dread O’Hare for at least another day.

So I took my voucher of sadness, that I may book another flight so that they may torment me again in the future. When I asked if I could use the voucher at another airline that wasn’t a complete shit show, American Airlines was not amused.

Thus I was cast from the holy 1st class, and sent to live among the dregs.

I have joined a tribe to survive.

The Delayed live in fear of the roving gangs of the Bumped. We battle for the vital territory of O’Hare, like the six working power plugs in the entire airport. Or the one water fountain that actually squirts far enough you don’t have to wrap your lips around it.

Rations are running low. I went to Chili’s but Endless Chips is a lie. There is an end.

I bought a hot dog. It was $4000. It mocked me with its sadness.

I remember Valentines Day with my wife in the Before Times, but my only intimate alone time today was spent with a blue gloved TSA agent, because his machine thought my testicles looked suspicious.

Though I dwell in Dread O’Hare, my luggage has flown to Utah. Where they assure me it will be taken care of by competent, American Airlines employees who totally won’t laugh as it is looted off the baggage claim.

Deprived of luggage, I have hunted and killed a service animal, and fashioned from its hide a loin cloth.
The Bumped Tribe has started a bonfire in terminal H to stay warm. We plot our next move against the Delayed Tribe.

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50 thoughts on “Dread O’Hare”

  1. Dearest Martha,

    Today we match on the Cinnabon on Concourse C, our scouts report they have the last remaining non-decaf this side of security. But we fear the Delayed might have learned of this too. This may be my final entry…

    Tell my children to redeem my Sky Miles.

  2. Makes me wonder what United Airlines did to place above American Airlines in the evil corporations of Tom Stranger’s world.

  3. I had a decent experience with AA in Phoenix. Due to having to wait for the gate to open, I missed my connection to Yuma. After running through to discover the door to the jetbridge was closed ( and they will NOT reopen it) I asked only one question: Ticketing agent? The gate agent pointed to a counter not far away.

    I ran to that counter and I was the first one there. No problem, we’ll get you to Yuma tonight! Great, but I needed to cross the border and the crossing closed at 2 p.m. (Covid hours). That’s Not Our Problem, says the agent.

    Cheerfully, I point out that it’s effectively a connection missed, and should be compensated. But, I said, I will settle for a hotel and a taxi voucher in Yuma, and oh yes, a meal here at Sky Harbor while I wait. This all got me an eyebrow; but my request wasn’t far from what is required, and I smiled the whole time.

    I got it. On my way to my voucher dinner, I stopped at the Starbux kiosk and got a large mocha double caf, and as I passed the ticket counter (now with pax 15 deep) I left it in front of my agent with a wave. I got a quizzical look, but she sipped it, smiled, and waved back.

    O’Hare, though, is a soul-sucking horror.

  4. Westjet may not be familiar to most of your readers. I only know of them because they fly from Vancouver, BC to Hawaii. They seemed, for a while, to be the most high volume, low cost airline doing that and everyone I knew who went to Hawaii flew Westjet. I decided to visit friends and it was pretty inexpensive, so I grabbed a ticket. While in Hawaii I bought a nice 9′ wood laminated surfboard. Hawaiian Island Surfboards. Simply beautiful. Bought a bag to put it in. Paid the extra to ship my surfboard back.

    The “Hawaii airline of choice” apparently doesn’t know what to do with surfboards. They set a bunch of suitcases right on top of my new board, leaving neat, round, 3/4 inch diameter holes all along the back of the board. Ruining it completely. Then tried to argue with me about reimbursing me for the cost. I’d paid cash from a craigslist seller and the only receipt I had was the $700 I’d taken out of the bank on the way to buy the board. Finally they relented.

    Now I have a really nice display item hanging on my wall, with all the holes on the back and invisible. Not exactly what I had planned to do with it but better than nothing. I guess.

  5. Last December we were flying back from Hawaii on American. We had to spend several hours in Pheonix waiting for a plane as our connecting flight got cancelled. Luckily, #2 son had Admiral’s Club so we got to spend that time in relative comfort. It was crowded, but never ran out of food and drink. We finally got on a flight to O’Hare at 6:30 PM (we got into Pheonix at 8AM). Somewhere over southern Colorado, there was a loud BANG!. The plane started vibrating and when I looked out my window, I saw the engine shooting yellow flame and sparks. This was a 737, so you can guess I was pretty far in the back,

    Being a power plant engineer, I knew what had happened. The engine had thrown a blade off the turbine, The pilot shut it down to keep it from flying apart from vibration and got diverted to Wichita KS for an emergency landing. Whne we landed, they must have had every fire truck and ambulance in Wichita lined up at the end of the runway. As we landed, they started following us, all the way to the terminal.

    I have to compliment the AA flight crew. They handled everything professionally and quickly. Those passengers sitting in the emergency exit seats were replaced with deadheading flight crew, They were ready for the worst case, which THANK GOD did not happen,

    The next morning the plane was still sitting at the gate we came into and I could see a large hole in te engine casing where the turbine blade made it’s exit away from the fuselage, A mechanic saw mee looking at it and told me that it was going to be flown to the AA maintenance facility at the industrial airport near DFW airport later that day.

  6. Cocktail napkins aren’t just good for hygiene and tinder. Several have symbols that can be used as signs of passage to gain access to the sacred “free peanuts” of other tribes.

  7. The one part of this story I have to object to is killing and skinning a service animal. Those animals are innocent, just trying to serve their humans, and have even less desire to be in O’Hare than you do.

    If you ever find yourself in this situation again, please kill and skin an airline executive instead.

    1. Not all “service animals” are created equal. There’s a man in Texas who has an emotional support longhorn steer.

  8. If you are involuntarily bumped, you have a right to demand cash rather than a voucher, though they will NEVER offer it to you.

    Situations when bumped passengers ARE eligible for compensation:

    You qualify for involuntary denied boarding compensation if an airline requires you to give up your seat on an oversold flight and:

    * You have a confirmed reservation,

    * You checked-in to your flight on time,

    * You arrived at the departure gate on time, and

    * The airline cannot get you to your destination within one hour of your flight’s original arrival time.


    Never ever take a voucher.

  9. Yea though I walk through the Atlanta terminals in darkest night, I know the secret of the T-Gates and the solitude and safety offered there by the ‘Old Timers’, so I fear no evil!

      1. I remember when the ‘new’ Atlanta terminal opened. And the ‘Darth Vader’ voice advising passengers boarding the subway between concourses to ‘move to the center of the vehicle and away from the doors ‘

          1. I swear the train monster once said “the train is now approaching concourse D. D as in Demon.”

      2. Whereas my sentence was a brisk run from Terminal A to Terminal . . . R or X or some such? The length of the entire airport, pretty much. Why anyone would schedule a layover of 15 minutes at Atlanta is beyond me, the only upside being that me and my dad didn’t have to spend more than a half-hour total in the Atlanta airport. Truly one of the ugliest places in the US.

      1. I’ve had good experiences with every airline and bad experiences with every airline. I don’t see a huge amount of difference between any of them

  10. As I sit here next to gate B29 in Norfolk Airport after having so much fun at MarsCon, I suspect that the cosmic scales are being balanced as my flight to scenic Newark is constantly delayed further. Currently I have 10 whole minutes to make it from my arrival gate in Newark to get to my departure gate. It has been some years since I have enjoyed a layover in beautiful New Jersey, but I don’t remember ever getting lucky enough that 10 minutes is long enough to get from gate to gate. I’m fairly certain that I have not, ever, even once, had a set of flights with united that wasn’t delayed, cancelled, or somehow completely buggered.

    Marscon was all kinds of fun for my first Con, but this part has lost its luster.

  11. I remember with disgust and loathing ATA and their vile flying dumpsters. ATA was a regional carrier based out of Indianapolis. A great evil passed from this world when they (deservedly) went tits up in 2008.

  12. Having spent the past two decades regularly crossing the oceans, I’ve come to expect that at least 1/4 of all my flights will experience a significant delay of some sort.
    I’ve found that a smile, friendly attitude, and a firm willingness to insist on a room for the night- best ask for two nights so you can get a late check-out- helps a lot. A travel policy also helps if they won’t give you a room.
    Of course, that doesn’t help when they decide to get you home at 3am instead of the scheduled 8pm, but it is what it is.

  13. There is a reason why I will never give American Airlines any money. And I am not kidding about this, I have paid well over $100 more to fly any other airline than let AA get my money.
    Their attitude is “Satisfied customers? F them. Who needs them?”

  14. How bad is O’Hare? The last time my family and I had to fly through Chicago, we paid an extra $95 each to fly through Denver instead on another airline. Worth every dollar.

  15. Dread Cthulhu would call Air Ithaqua and pay the Elder God fees to avoid O’Hare, Atlanta, and probably Charlotte. At least he’d get stale blood and souls instead of old pretzels.

    I don’t miss air travel after a lot of meetings and such got switched to virtual. No more weather problems, equipment failures, hordes of disgruntled tribes in the terminals …

  16. Never fly with Spirit Airlines.

    Just the other weekend, my nephew was flying back from his holiday visit with his father. LA, layover in LV, to Boise. In theory, anyway….

    My sister was checking the flight status on an independent site when it updated and said the flight had been diverted to Salt Lake. She called her ex and asked if he knew what was up. He didn’t. She then called the airline. The agent there said the flight had landed. No problems. (Not a complete lie, since it had in fact landed at Salt Lake.) Ex called back, said they’d told him it was just delayed. Nephew called, said they’d told him Boise was closed because of weather (all other airlines were landing just fine) and that they would be turning around and going back to Las Vegas. That if anyone decided to get off the plane in Salt Lake they were on their own for getting anywhere else, oh, and their luggage wasn’t coming off the plane.

    My sister called the airline back, pointed out that the plane had been diverted, pointed out that other planes were landing perfectly safely, both before and after the proposed landing time of her son’s flight. Oh well.

    The plane went back to LV and the passengers were told to debark. My nephew pointed out he was a minor. He was told he’d be fine, get off. He went to get his luggage, but no luggage came. After half an hour he asked someone who worked there, who pointed out all the luggage had been taken straight to the lost luggage desk. And entire flight’s worth of ‘lost luggage’.

    The Ex eventually got an email detailing the newly booked flight, 3 days later. Other delayed folks got food and hotel vouchers, but since my nephew was a minor, they couldn’t give him any, but he was expected to cool his heels in the Las Vegas airport for 3 days?

    After a heated call invoking the angry gods of Law Suit, Criminal Negligence, and Child Endangerment, a new flight, first thing the next morning was miraculously found and food vouchers were provided.

    My teen nephew got home safely late the next morning, but I’m not sure he’s going to be willing to get on an airplane again for a while.

    Never, never fly Spirit Airlines.

    1. I had to book flights for my oldest and his significant other for the holidays, and Spirit Airlines kept being “recommended” as the cheapest option.

      But for their stay they’d have to check one bag each. Spirit is carry-on-only by default and the cost of checking two bags may as well have been two more tickets. Any other airline included one checked bag AND a carry-on for each ticket, either by default or for a nominal fee (think: ~$12-15), which quickly made Spirit NOT the cheapest option.

      That, paired with some of the horror stories I’ve heard about elder-god-awful customer service, made it an easy choice.

      And good times were had by all. 🙂

    1. So, do you have a better idea about what to do for handicapped people? You sound like a Nazi when you say what you said.

      1. The Federal Aviation Administration is actively recruiting workers who suffer “severe intellectual” disabilities, psychiatric problems and other mental and physical conditions under a diversity and inclusion hiring initiative spelled out on the agency’s website.

        “Targeted disabilities are those disabilities that the Federal government, as a matter of policy, has identified for special emphasis in recruitment and hiring,” the FAA’s website states. “They include hearing, vision, missing extremities, partial paralysis, complete paralysis, epilepsy, severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability and dwarfism.”

        Well, if you’re fine with completely paralyzed workers, or those with severe intellectual disability, psychiatric disability, etc., then by all means, you’re welcome to it. I’m surprised that sheer stupidity isn’t listed as a specific protected disability. Based on your comment, you might find your perfect employer.

      2. Seems like you read a LOT into his comment. All he said was flying is going to get worse, while linking to an article. Burning a straw man makes you sound either disingenuous or unintelligent.

        You have to admit, at best, this announcement by the FAA was terribly worded. Most people think of FAA as focusing on airline safety, and having someone who has a 45 IQ in charge of safety sounds like a very bad idea.

        Now, I guarantee you they’re not hiring a Severly Intellectually Disabled person to run accident investigations, but instead hiring them to do things like janintors, shred files, or other physical, not intellectually rigorous work. But as far as I can tell, they’re not actually trying to explain how they are going to employee people in a way that is both honoring to the individuals that are disabled and reassuring to the public. Instead, they throw out the “Yay, we are good people because we are increasing diversity!” Then people clutch pearls over “bigotry” when people express concerns about the people in charge of overseeing airline safety employing people with severe disabilities.

        As someone who worked extensively with the severely disabled (predominantly intellectual disability, autism specturm, and severe TBI), I fully support employment opportunities for the severely disabled. Unfortunately, with some of this population, what many of can do for gainful employment is limited due to the limits their disability places on them. There’s a way to provide employment opportunity, and the FAA may have some great opportunity. But the whole press release comes accross as screaming “THIS INCREASES DIVERSITY!” all while they have mud on them for having yet ANOTHER Boeing issue on their watch is not exactly helping them regain trust.

    2. Yeah, I was going to make the same point. Diversity hiring in ATC is bad enough, but when they’re actively hiring PILOTS and fricken’ ground crew (you know, the folks who maintain the aircraft?) based on diversity criteria instead of merit? I’d think really carefully about whether you actually need to fly.

  17. I was able to go to Marscon and see Larry there. It was awesome! He signed all of my books and I was able to talk to him for a moment. A huge number of people came to see him, and he made time to talk to a lot of them. I went to many panels and particularly enjoyed his panels on Critics, Monster Hunting for Fun & Profit, and Building a Monster from Scratch. I recently finished Monster Hunter Memoirs: Fever, and I am finally starting Son of the Black Sword.

  18. LMFAO

    Read this aloud to the family. They had the same reaction. My 81 y/o mother laughed the hardest at the part about your testicles. It is what it is.

    If you ever need an audiobook narrator…jus’ sayin’. 😛

  19. I have flown AA three times. Once was changing duty stations, and they lost my A bags, so I had no civilian clothes besides what I was traveling in, and no BDUs. Had to report in jeans and a t-shirt, and then wear those clothes for 3 days because MCS was closed. Second time was midtour R&R. I decided to spend two weeks crashing at my sisters house in San Diego, and my bags never showed up. Spent the first day wandering around wearing the same uniform I’d been wearing for over a week at that point. Last time was visiting my brother. My wife booked my flight. They lost my gun case for 3 weeks. I told her if she ever booked American again, she was going wherever by herself.

  20. Isn’t it about time that the United States starts to build corridors of high speed rail trains, so that you and other Americans aren’t overly dependent on air travel and automotive travel?

      1. Typically, when someone says something that stupid, one can assume that they don’t really know how big the USA is- like makes the proverbial vastness of European Russia look small big. Idiot probably thinks that a drive from Chicago to New York takes about 2 hours, including a stop for tea.
        And even in the more ‘enlightened’ parts of the world where they do a lot of train travel, they still have a lot of city to city airplane travel.

    1. In a straight line (which a HSR train can’t travel thanks to mountains and canyons), it is 2294 miles from Los Angeles to Washington D.C.

      Paris to Berlin – 546 miles
      Berlin to Moscow – 1123 miles
      Paris to Florence – 755 miles

      It’s a big country Ralphy boy. It takes as long to fly from LA to DC as it does to drive from Paris to Berlin. I’ve done both.

    2. I’m not sure where you are from so I have to assume that you are either American and quite young or not American and not aware of a few things.

      First off, making the kind of routes you are describing is a bureaucratic nightmare. Appeasing the EPA by showing that at no point in time will you disturb any animal or pollute the slightest bit of soil for the thousands of miles required for this is the first step. Taking care of that will take at least a decade.

      Second, high speed rails have to be more durable than what you see in this country. This adds to the expense and the unicorns just haven’t been pooping enough money over the past few years.

      Third, the maintenance expense for something that long is going to be impressive. And we can’t even get our DOT to maintain all of our freeways and bridges on a regular basis.

      So take the Acela line that we have here. Its top speed is 150 MPH but it only travels that speed for about 50 miles of its entire route. Assuming the perfect solution is presented and these magical trains can go that fast the whole time, traveling from one coast to the other would still take about 18 hours. And that’s assuming non-stop with no delays and no need to disembark and get to another station.

      I prefer flying.

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