I had a very successful meeting with a client in Austin and had planned on catching an early flight home. I arrived at the Austin airport (pretty small, but converted from an old Air Force base) at 2:00 PM to attempt flying standby on a 4:00 PM flight. The American Airline agent told me that the standby flight went through Dallas (DFW) instead of LAX and that both legt of the trip were fully booked. This meant that even if I was lucky enough to make the flight from Austin to DFW, I might be stranded in Dallas for the night.

So I waited… until 6:00 PM when my flight was suppose to leave Austin, but the plane did not arrive on time. Later I would learn that it was due to weather conditions at its originating airport somewhere in the North West US. The gate kept updating us with how much longer it would be delayed. Now I was starting to worry because my original layover in LA of 2 hours was diminishing every time my departing flight from Austin was delayed. The plane finally arrived and left Austin at 7:50 PM Central Time and arrived in LAX at 9:15 PM Pacific Time. This means that I missed my connection by about 5 minutes (really it would have taken me about 30 minutes to get over to the right gate and through security.)

I was upset, especially because I was told over and over again that I needed to simply wait for a gate agent at the arriving gate (I guess the American Airlines agents 20 feet away were "unable to assist".) So I waited… I was getting good at this. Finally, someone came to my aide and told me I had two options: (1) try to get my ass over to another terminal and fly standby on an already booked United Airlines flight or (2) fly to Fresno and get a rental car to drive the 160 miles. Uhm… no.

So I booked my ass from Terminal #5, via bus, to the United terminal (#7) and was told what I already knew that the flight was oversold and there was no possibility of me getting on. Oversold? Ok, if they had said "booked" I would be fine, but why the hell are airlines overselling their flights?! So, I went back to the American Airlines terminal (#4) and talked to an agent about what I was going to do. By now it was 11:00 PM and I had been in airports and on planes for 11 hours. I was booked on the 6:00 AM flight and told the airport would close down and I would need to be a refuge in the International terminal until my flight. The agent was really nice about it and gave me some forward info telling me that the Starbucks opened at 5 AM and I might be able to get some coffee before my flight.

So I went over to the International terminal to wait out me 7 hour sentence. I tried to think up a way to social engineer my way into one of the swank airline lounges, but they required you go through security and without a proper ticket I would never make it. My only saving grace is that I'm close enough to said lounges to pick up the free WiFi they all offer.  If you're ever stranded in a major airport and want some free wireless Internet, head on over to the International terminal and latch on.
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