28 Sept 2014
Our last day in Chicago and we’re sad to say good-bye. My Dad suggested we try Carson’s, a place famous for ribs; which he loved when they visited Chicago a few years ago. Facing another big meal was a challenge but we agreed to take one for the team! This one’s for you Dad!
My phone buzzed as a notification arrived from Tripcase, our travel app: ‘Your flight tomorrow is cancelled. Contact AA for more information’. Okay…
What ensued next can only be described as an automated phone system vortex, as I struggled to make my accent understood. I gave what I hoped was a generic American accent my best shot; which seemed to work until:
“What is the surname of your booking?”
“I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you. Let’s try that again. What is the surname of your booking?”
I answered again, a little more slowly and loudly.
“I’m sorry, I’m having trouble understanding you.. Etc
I answered again and again, frantically searching for a recognisable local accent.
On and on, four times, eight times, how many different American accents could I imitate? I was lost. Finally we found ourselves on hold waiting to speak to a person, although I was losing hope of ever being understood again.
For an hour we shared nursing the handset, waiting and listening to the same five bars of music and info-messages on short-cycle repeat. Meanwhile David looked into our travel insurance policy while I googled to see if I could work out why the flight was unceremoniously cancelled. Turns out that a few days ago, a disgruntled FAA employee sabotaged the Chicago area air traffic control servers. Chicago’s airports were in chaos with hundreds of flights cancelled and a back log of passengers stranded. Uh-oh.
But long story, short, we were eventually ‘re-accommodated’ as they say here but we had to fly via Charlotte, North Carolina. Fine, fine, we’re not in a hurry, just happy to have flights.
By now we needed a drink, to celebrate, to say farewell Chicago, and to see the city one last time. It was a warm evening so we wandered the streets looking for the perfect bar and decided to return to Howells & Hood, with their extensive beer menu. And this time we kept a lid on it- don’t want to fly with hangovers!