Before I continue on the flight fiasco, I must document my fellow passengers. As we all know, when we fly, we encounter myriad examples of humanity. Our flight was no exception. The fellow behind us was telling risque jokes. He was a very learned fellow: he told his seat-mate (poor schmuck) all about the geography of the Red River Valley and how "10,000 years ago, all this was under water. Lake Agassiz. blah blah blah. Oh, that's probably Alexandria outside your window. This is real lakes country here. blah blah blah." This segued into a story about his boat and then his divorce. He had stories about various gals he had dated. When he launched into one story about a flight attendant he dated, his seatmate asked, "While you were in flight?" Smart fellow. It seemed a fitting question, as this loudmouth kept calling the flight attendant by name ("Thanks, Chelsea. Where did you go to flight school, Chelsea?"). I told Paul that on his next flight, he'd have a whole new story to tell about the flight attendant named Chelsea he dated.
When we got into O'hare (down steep plane steps onto wet tarmac. How fun), we looked for the nearest departure info screens. We were right about our flight being delayed. Our flight to London closed all boarding at 10:05 pm instead of 9:14. Unfortunately, we got into O'hare at 10:06 or something.
We ran to the customer service counter for United Airlines, but they CLOSED IT! There was a small line of other disgruntled passengers, but one poor fella had to explain to everyone else who walked up to the counter that they closed at 10 pm and only the lucky buggers on the OTHER side of the rope would be assisted that night. We called 1800United1 and after a very long wait, were told that all daytime departing flights were booked solid. Our options were:
Fly SwissAir into Zurich leaving at 7:35 pm and arriving Heathrow at 1 pm Sunday (mind you, our original itinerary put us into London at 11 am SATURDAY).
Aer Lingus departing 6 pm, flying into DUBLIN at 7:20 am and arriving into London at 10:15 am Sunday.
The fellow also told me that we could reclaim our baggage and recheck them in the morning. The UA people on the ground had other ideas. They don't reclaim after 9 pm. I couldn't help snipping, "It seems United doesn't do anything after 9 pm." (see info above on customer service counter if the sarcasm is lost on you, dear reader).
By then, it was midnight on a wet, chilly night in Chicago. We found a visitor info kiosk, booked a hotel (Holiday Inn Select), and found a cab. The cab driver, of course, looked 15 years old and didn't know where the hotel was located. After waiting until $1.25 was already added to our fare because we were sitting in his parked car, he found the address and we were off.
Paul and I at the hotel:
At the hotel, we encountered no real problem. Actually, Paul had a blast chatting with some Ukrainian fellow who was stocking the frozen paninis and other sundries in the open-all-night-gift-shop. His accent was great; If you've seen the movie The Saint and have heard the character Tretiac (spelling?) speak, you know what kind of accent (russian?)
$100 unexpectedly spent. Oh and breakfast and $20 to cover some basic overnight stuff since ours is sitting at the airport.
It's a no brainer, I guess. The silver lining is this: I get to fly into Dublin (something I thought I'd have to wait another 10 years to do). The bad news: what do you see of the real Dublin from an airport? It's another day wasted. I have the same clothes I wore since 8 am FRIDAY. and so on.
My overall thoughts: United airlines in united in their plot to ruin my vacation, but I won't let them, darn it.
We'll go hang out at the airport this afternoon, but right now I'm going to get some much needed sleep.
PS Here's the view from the hotel (Sears tower in distance).