News flash: Air travel really sucks right now (Washington Post). A couple of weeks ago, I too was touched by this national nightmare. On a Friday evening, I planned to fly from Dulles to SFO, but got slapped with an SSSS on my boarding pass (expired driver's license) and a long security line and figured I would miss my flight. Good thing it was delayed. For three hours, initially. The gate agents reported that there was bad weather in New York, and this seemed reasonable to me because there were lots of people at the other gates who appeared to be pissed off and tired. Also, the storm was all over the hundreds of TVs that blast CNN at you. I got comfortable and watched an excellent movie (Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well) on my computer, fully believing what the gate agents were saying: The flight would not be canceled. They emphasized this: It would not be canceled.
After two more delays, at 2:30am, the gate agents delivered the obvious: The flight would be canceled. Within milliseconds, an entire plane-load of people freaked out, fumed, growled, shouted insults and then scrambled to get re-booked. Lines at the desks: 45 minutes. Hold time on the phone: 45 minutes. Likelihood of getting out of DC in the next 24 hours: Zero. Compensation for our trouble: Zero. Our flight appeared to be the only suckers left at Dulles, but of course the airline blamed the cancellation on acts of God and air traffic control and, on those grounds, they refused to give us even a voucher for a soda. (A recent Washington Post article examines traditional airline excuses). But wait, there's good news: The current issue of Popular Mechanics has an article about the FAA's work on a GPS-based air traffic control system, which will be up and running by … 2025. Ugh.
I won't name the airline (because I am a gentleman), but I encourage you to look for clues in the title of this post. (Specifically in the first letter of each word. Thx, Khoi Vinh for the inspiration.)