Friday, May 18, 2012

Cancelled and Delayed at McCarran in Las Vegas

Terminal 1 has lot of eating and shopping options. American Airlines
departs from this terminal. Little did knew when I took this photo I
wouldn't have time to visit any of these retailers.
(above photo: TheHopefulTraveler)
 If you read my post from May 15th called "HNL to LAS: Solving a Delayed Flight Problem" one would think history would not repeat itself on the same trip. But my cell phone started ringing just a few steps from my gate at McCarran International Airport to catch an American Airlines flight to connect in LAX to head back home to Honolulu. It was one of those automated message letting me know (less than an hour before departure) my flight was cancelled and I was placed on another flight to leave the next day.

Now I would have loved to spend one more day Las Vegas but things would have been different if I was notified before I checked out of my hotel rather than minutes before my flight was supposed to have departed. So I had to rely on experience, knowledge and patience to solve multiple problems to get things in order to return home.

First thing I sat myself at the gate with a pen, paper and my boarding pass and called American Airlines. The airline was maintaining they could not get me on any American flight on the same day. This is where I had to interject and ask if they can get me on one of the Hawaiian Airlines flights that was scheduled to depart that day with non-stop service to Honolulu. After 45 minutes on the phone, I was confirmed on Hawaiian flight HA 5 that would depart McCarran at 6:15pm and arrive at HNL at 9:35pm. Problem 1 solved.
(story continued below)

Terminal 1 passengers take a monorail after security to the airline gates.
One of the stations to catch the Terminal 1 monorail.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
 Since I had already checked one bag, the gate agents informed all passengers that were booked on AA1308 from LAS to LAX that our bags were still at check-in. So it was return trip on the airport monorail and then another hour waiting in line at American's check-in desk to get my bag. There were only three agents working the counters so the long wait was compounded by passengers who were checking in combined with passengers who needed to be rebooked in addition to the added time for airline personnel to search for the checked bags. One passenger got so impatient that there was near fist fight when others complained. But by that time I had got my checked-bag and Problem 2 solved.

Now when American rebooks passengers on other carriers, the airline confirms the reservation but not the passenger's seats. So rather than waiting to check-in at the Hawaiian Airlines for a seat assignment, I was back on my cell phone calling Hawaiian customer service. Luckily the airline already has my reservation in their system and the rep was able to confirm a coach seat. I mentioned that I was an elite member holding Puulani Gold in their HawaiianMiles reward program. The agent confirmed that I was able to use my perks and have priority check-in no checked bag fees. Problem 3 solved.

Waiting out the time between my original departure of 11:35am to 6:15pm
cost me $25.35 for starters.
Booked in Hawaiian first class and my tags bagged.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
 My original departure from Vegas on American was at 11:35am and now I was to depart at 6:15pm on Hawaiian. So I would have time to spare at the airport. What to do? I headed over to the retailers outside of security and picked up some basics from Hudson News that would tide me over until my flight. This included a magazine, tropical trail mix, honey cashews, potato chips, bottled water and a Listerine pocket mist. Combined with my iPhone and iPad, I would be able to keep myself entertained until the 5:30pm boarding time. Problem 4 solved.

After spending more than a couple of hours on my phone calling the two airlines, my battery was extremely low. Finding a free outlet outside of security was not easy. A hallway on the departure level of Terminal 1 leading to airport office and a floor above baggage claim got me a free outlet and peace and quiet. I decompressed while I charged both my phone and tablet by sitting on the floor and closing my eyes. My electronics were fully juiced in less than hour and I headed to the Hawaiian Airlines terminal. Problem 5 solved.

From Terminal 2, one can get a view of many of the hotels along
the Las Vegas Strip: Mandalay Bay and Luxor to...
...Excalibur, Tropicana to New York New York.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
 I felt like I did everything I could do and just had to wait out the time until departure. Hawaiian Airlines departs from the McCarran's dilapidated Terminal 2 so it was a ten minute walk in the Las Vegas heat from Terminal 1. Waiting for Hawaiian check-in to open, I reconsidered my option and called Hawaiian. Could I upgrade? The answer was yes. Logging into my HawaiianMiles account I checked-in online even though I had no way to print my boarding passes. But it would allow me to upgrade to a first class seat for a fee of $270 based on my elite level with Hawaiian. I was feeling like crap after waiting at the airport for most of the day, stressing over re-booking my flights and walking through two terminals so the restful flight with a hot meal would help bringing this trip to end on a high note.

Once the kiosks at Hawaiian check-in were available for check-in, I printed my boarding passes. An agent working the kiosks tagged my bag and I was on my way to security. I could only hope there would be no further interruptions between now and my arrival in Honolulu. If life's problems were not solved, at the I worked the ones to get me back home. Thank goodness.

The view at Gate 5 at Terminal 2 offers a view of the hotels north
of the MGM Grand.
Pointing my camera further both, I can make out the Wynn and Encore.
(above photos: TheHopefulTraveler)

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