Monday, August 17, 2009

How much is my time worth?

I flew to Chicago on Sunday, August 9th, for a conference and training for my job.  I had booked my flight a couple of weeks before I left and thought it was plenty of time ahead of my flight.  Well I only found one flight that had a few seats left and it was a non-refundable ticket.  Of course, the flight departed at 6:30 am when the flight restrictions are lifted at my airport.  Anyways, I decided to park in a long term lot this time instead of being picked up and dropped off - it was way too early to call my friends.  So I get to the airport in a timely manner and get up to the gate where the line is winding around through the terminal.  I wondered why it looked like everyone that was on the flight was standing in line and stopped a young gentleman who was standing on the sidelines.  He told me that the flight was delayed and they announced that anyone connecting through Chicago should stand in line.  Since I was only going to Chicago, I tried to find a place to sit down.

I finally hear that there is a mechanical problem with the plane and a part must be flown in from Los Angeles to replace it.  The next thing I hear is that this Los Angeles part was installed but it failed another part and now a new component must be flown in from Denver.  Time is clicking by and the line is not getting any shorter.  It was now approaching 10:00 and I decided to call my boss at home and ask if I should try to book another flight.  I was suppose to meet some of my co-workers at 6:45 am on Monday.  Since the flight I was scheduled to be on was on a non-refundable ticket, I would need to purchase another ticket - hum, would my office pay for both tickets?  My boss stated not to worry and to stay with my flight and if I couldn't make it on Monday, it was not my problem.

More time is now passing and I buy lunch at the airport and eat while waiting for more information.  I did meet a nice couple from Chicago who were flying home after a convention in town and that did pass the time most pleasantly.  By 1:30 pm, there were no longer ticket agents at the gate and the plane was still sitting outside the window.  The pilots did come out to buy some lunch and went right back in.  I estimate that there were about 15 people now sitting with me in the waiting area.  By 2:30 pm, there seemed to be some activity and it was announced that the plane was fixed and we were going to take off.  

Everyone pretty much had a row to themselves and we made it to Chicago without incident.  We were offered free alcohol and a free $6 snack box.  It seemed the headset speakers were not functioning and the movie was played over the PA system.  I dozed off and on until we landed.

At the end of the day, I received an e-mail from United stating that I should log onto their appreciation site and choose a "gift."  So for a 7 hour delay, my choices were (1) $150 toward a domestic flight, (2) 20% off a flight from the US and specific countries, and (3) 7,000 mileage points.  Options (1) and (2) must be used within 1 year on new purchased flights.

I chose option (1) and hopefully will find a way to use it by next year.  So for a 7 hour wasted Sunday where I could have slept in and not paid an extra day in doggie daycare, I got $150 and a $6 boxed snack.  I thought my time was worth more than that!

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