SXSWi 2008 post game analysis

I made it home from Austin last night rather late and went to work this morning. Unlike the trip out, the flight home was rather uneventful. Thank goodness. We didn’t get our luggage until late Saturday night, so I basically had two nights without my CPAP machine, which the Airlines had told me to pack in my checked luggage, then tried to yell at me about putting in my checked luggage when we were leaving Dallas.

The two days without it really screwed me up. The whole trip was rather chaotic, actually, and frustrating, but I think I got some good information in all. I have half an overview written of panels I liked and what I thought was interesting; I’ll work on that more tomorrow. Tonight, I’m just trying to settle in and relax.

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On the Tarmac for 6 hours for SXSWi

Yesterday we had one of those nightmarish plane trips you hear about on the news every so often. Our American Airlines flight to Austin, Texas had a (supposed to be) short stop in Dallas/Fort Worth airport. The first leg from Indianapolis to Dallas went smoothly, and we got on the plane 1717 for the 36ish minute flight from Dallas to Austin.

As we got to the runway, they made the pilot turn back to de-ice the plane. The airport had known the storm was coming in, but the didn’t have the de-icers prepared near take off, so the captain had to turn around and taxi back to where they were located, which took an hour and a half. I’m paraphrasing what the captain was telling us here; I don’t really know beans about plane de-icers.

Note that this wasn’t a very big storm by northern standards; less than an inch of snow and some sleet. Something that Indianapolis airport handles regularly and Chicago and New York do in their sleep. Six inches of snow, according to the news. And Dallas doesn’t get snow often, so I guess I should allow them to act like big babies about it.

In the process of waiting behind the other planes that had arrived at the de-icers first (planes that were taking off after ours) our plane ran out of fuel, and had to return to a gate to refuel. It took two hours to clear a gate for us to pull in and refuel, and in the meantime, 50 other planes got in line for the de-icer ahead of us.

We waited two and a half more hours for the traffic jam at the de-icers to clear, and then American Airlines canceled all their flights out. They told us over the intercom that the whole airport canceled flights, but we found out later that wasn’t true. All through the process of sitting on the plane, the airport would tell captain one thing and then another; he was obviously pretty frustrated with them when he was making announcements of the intercom, and he appeared to think we were getting the shaft. At one time, after saying “I’m sorry, I don’t know anything.” for the hundredth time, he joked “I do know I’m the captain of this plane. That’s one thing I do know.”

In the last hour of the trip, passengers behind us opened a betting pool on when we would actually take off. None of them won.

We decided to get a rental car and drive (3 and a half hours) to Austin. American wouldn’t release our luggage to us though; they’re putting it on a plane this morning. They say.

On the shuttle from the airport to the car rental, we heard that only American canceled flights and all the other airlines continued. I’ll have to check on that on the news this morning. So we got to the hotel about 10 p.m. – 9 hours after we originally were supposed to arrive. — updated: all the flights were canceled, not just American.

Needless to say; I’m not flying American ever again, and I’ll definitely never fly into Dallas, where they’re too big weenies to deal with a bit of snow. I’ll give them the snow. I wish they’d done a better job of managing the planes, because ours really got shafted.

Somewhere in the confusion of packing I put my iPhone charger in my checked luggage, which frustrating. I can charge it by tethering it to my laptop, but that’s pretty inconvenient.

What’s even less convenient is that I put my CPAP machine in my checked luggage; something that the airlines advised to do because TSA is too stupid to recognize what it is and tends to pull people out of security lines for them, thinking they’re improvised explosive devices.

Fortunately, I did not die of sleep apnea last night. I did have a pretty rough night though, and feel like crap, which is of course the way I want to start out our trip. Also, I’m wearing the clothes from yesterday, which is lovely.

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