Airline Adventures

The airlines have been getting reamed because on-time performance is at an all-time low. And the airline that's the worst at being on time? U.S. Airways, which almost all of us local frequent flyers use at least on occasion, given that one of the airline's hubs is two hours up the road.

I've flown U.S. Airways a lot over the last year or so, and I've been pretty lucky. That is, until this weekend.

I was flying back to Tucson from Reno, Nev., through Phoenix. (I was dealing with family stuff. 'Nuff said.) Things were looking good: We boarded the plane and were ready to go before our scheduled departure. Then I noticed something: Our baggage had not been loaded yet. Finally, the luggage carts showed up, and workers feverishly started loading the plane. The pilot announced that due to a computer glitch, the airline had been slow to calculate the weight ratios and whatnot. We finally departed about a half-hour late.

Oh, did I mention that U.S. Airways had only given me a 36-minute layover in Phoenix?

The pilot said he'd try to make up some time, and we pulled into our gate at Sky Harbor only 20 minutes behind schedule. The flight attendants (after lecturing passengers that we should have given ourselves a layover of at least an hour; thanks for the advice!) asked the passengers to let those of us who needed to make connecting planes off first.

Yet the plane's door didn't open. Finally, the pilot made an announcement: They'd stopped the plane 8 inches too far away from the gate, and we needed to be towed in. Of course, by now, baggage handlers were already unloading the plane; they had to pull away so the tug could haul us in.

When I finally got off the plane--five minutes before my next flight's scheduled departure time--I checked with the gate attendant. "Is it worth running for," I asked?

His reply: "The Tucson flight's at gate B-3."

So I ran. My flight was a concourse away (but thankfully, only one). It's no fun to sprint after having been cramped on a plane for two hours ... but I made it.

Of course, my checked luggage didn't. But that's OK; I had to wait for so long to see if my luggage had made it (thanks to a broken baggage carousel) that my bag showed up on the next arriving flight from Phoenix before I left the airport.

Ah, what a fun airline experience.