Doh! Got to the Airport a Day Early to Find my Flight Delayed Four Days.

Well, that's a bummer. The forecast was for some bad weather overnight, so I thought I'd be smart and get a hotel near the airport to avoid having to drive up tomorrow for a 2PM flight out of Cleveland, but as soon as I got into my room at the hotel and checked tomorrow's flight, I found out that my flight for tomorrow (Monday) was canceled and reschedule for Thursday(!), but that's only the domestic part... my flight back to Japan seems to have disappeared.

My mom had just dropped me off, but I didn't have a way to contact her to come back and bring me back home, so I'm stuck here until after the weather clears. At least I've got a nice hotel to pass the time in. It's forecast to be an actual -15°F / -26°C tomorrow, with a windchill of -40°F (which is also -40°C).

I tried calling the airline (United Airlines), but they're understandably overloaded, and the phone system won't even let you wait on hold. I took the shuttle to the airport thinking I'd talk to someone there, but a chat with a stranded traveler in the shuttle convinced me not to bother, so I came back to the hotel.

I told the front desk that if they get full and someone's desperate enough to want to share a room, the extra bed in my room is open. I hope no one needs it.

Update later in the evening

Watching the radar, the line of approaching snow actually started to recede a bit, delaying the worst of the problems, so my mom came to pick me up and now I'm at my folks' place again. I don't know when I'll get out, but it's sure a lot more relaxing to be here! I still haven't been able to contact United Airlines, but saw on their web site that they'll waive all fees and any fare increases for adjusted schedules, which is very nice. I'll see how things look tomorrow and go from there.

Update the next morning

Cleveland has so far been spared the worst of the snow, and some flights are getting out. If one believes United's web site (which one should not necessarily do), half the flights from Cleveland to Chicago have long waitlists, and half have no waitlist. Seems unlikely.

I did find my transpacific return to Kyoto in United's online system... according to my current reservation as shown on, they have me flying into Milwaukee on Thursday and then leaving for Japan, uh, the day before. Not sure how that's supposed to work.

The whole point of stopping by Milwaukee on the way home is to see my dear friend and best man at my wedding Ram Kulkarni, so I've been trying to find a way to get to Milwaukee or Chicago today, but's system says that I have to actually talk to an agent to update my reservation, and when I call, after playing phone-menu hide-and-seek for a minute or so I'm so far invariably met with I'd like to transfer you to an agent who can assist you, but unfortunately, due to high call volumes, all our agents are currently busy. Please call us back at a later time. Goodbye. (Click the link to hear to audio. The intonation of the final goodbye is somehow teasing, as if daring me to waste more time.)

Update the second morning after

I tried first thing this morning, and actually got onto the hold queue. A moment after the on-hold music started, there was a quick and quiet additional message: your hold time will exceed sixty minutes. Doh! I appreciate being told. I'll try again later.

I eventually did get through: Continued here...

All 2 comments so far, oldest first...

Mmm I’m trying to leave Chicago tomorrow , not sure how it’s going to be with the frigid temperatures coming in tonight (high of -24C tomorrow) ;))

— comment by luc on January 6th, 2014 at 10:20am JST (9 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Everytime you go the US you have some sort of adventure. Well, at least it makes life a bit more surprising, which is a good thing in my book. We got stuck in NYC for two days because of the hurricane coming home last time we went to the US. There were five of us in one hotel/motel room. But, it was fun. Then we had to spend a night in Hong Kong, which was paid for by Cathay Pacific (who were excellent, by the way). It was an excellent hotel and the dinner was also paid for by the airline and it was very good. I told you the story before, but we then missed the connecting flight back to Japan because my mother in law walks really slow and we didn’t get to the gate in time (completely my fault because I mis-estimated how long it would take to get there). But, all in all, I remember that return flight as much or more than any other event on the trip. Funnily, Monet and May both had instant ramen late at night crossing the Pacific and they both exclaimed, “This is the best food we’ve had since we came to America!”

— comment by Arthur Brigham on January 7th, 2014 at 7:51am JST (9 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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