This happened to me in 1999

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I was on a Northwest puddle jumper headed to Ottawa from Detroit so I could do some business systems training there.  We tried to take off twice, but shortly before our turn each time icing was spotted by the aircraft behind our Mesaba Puddle Jumper under the Northwest flag, so we had to return to the gate to wait out a severe blizzard.  We were made to wait on the aircraft for several hours in subzero temps because they did not want to clear us thru customs again, with no food, water, bathroom or heat on the aircraft.  I was frozen into a little ball of human and finally all of us pax banded together and threatened the souls of the crew onboard, though the problem was really with the gate agents.  We hobbled, frozen, back to the gate and ran to the facilities.  I cannot even describe the pain I was in.

I got to Ottawa some six hours late and was detained by customs and forced to pay a Canadian $100 extortion fee due to their NAFTA protection, even though I did something for my client no one in Canada could do because they were not trained on our systems, nor did we have Canadian employees.  At least the fee was final and was waived for future trips.  Had I lied (they searched my suitcase and saw my tools and instruction manuals) I would have been banned from Canadian soil for life and my company, Best Western, would have been stuck because as their lead trainer I specialized in Canadian tax law. 

My clients at the Best Western in Ottawa, as were all Canadians I have met, were sweet and wonderful, picking me up in the blizzard that followed us from Detroit, taking me to their hotel at 3AM, and ordering to bed and telling me not to start work until I had a full eight hours of sleep and a meal in my belly.  They took me and my colleague, who arrived a day later, on a tour of the Ottawa sites and snuck us into Quebec just so we could say we crossed from English Speaking to French Speaking Canada.  Ottawa is one of two Canadian cities, the other being Quebec city, that are fairytale examples of Europe on North American soil.  Even though my trip started off badly and Northwest never compensated us for our misery saying an Act of God caused their meanness to us (a law later came in to protect Americans), my trip overall was a special memory because I learned whilst up there I would become a Daddy in nine months!

United may be in deep doo doo for what this article states, because laws are in place protecting passengers from incarceration like this: There were not any when I had my disaster, one of two I had, the other returning from Europe and being detoured from JFK to Philly in '94 due to a flash flood at JFK.  There we were again stranded three hours, again we mutinied as pax but the compassionate flight crew broke out drinks on the house for us.  And on my trip home the next day TWA booked me, because I was kind to their gate agent amidst yelling and chaos from the other pax, on a United First Class DC10 home from Philly to SFO with a stop in JFK to pick up pax stranded there from the previous day's storm.  I could not get a hotel room that night at Philly even though I had a free voucher from TWA, but I met a Marine in full dress uniform coming home and we sat and shared beers at a bar and became buddies over that night.

As is said, every silver lining has a cloud and every cloud has a silver lining...


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I fly a lot for work. I’m on United First to Vegas tomorrow for work. Get home Friday and turn around Sunday to go out to California.

I had a positive experience when I flew Northwest. We had a similar issue in Cleveland to Detroit. Had to return twice to the gate. The Northwest crew was very proactive. That was when they had an agreement with Continental. They called my name to come to the front. They booked me on a Continental flight to get back to Florida direct that got me home sooner. I didn’t even have to ask. 


When I was Chairmen’s Preferred with US Airways I had one of those nightmare flights. My son was a lap child. I decided last minute to grab a flight for him and I to visit family in PA. I used a free ticket and couldn’t get first class or even an aisle or window seat on my flight from CLT to PIT. While connecting thru CLT my son got sick and threw up all over both of us while in the airport. I had to find us shirts at the airport because it was that bad. We board, taxi and stop. They claimed a ground stop due to severe weather in PIT even though it was sunshine in PIT. We sat on a ramp in CLT for 3 hours middle of July. Those dark blue 737’s absorbed heat and the ac sucked. Used up free tickets and never boarded a US Airways Flight again. Was flying them since the late 1980’s

Even Southwest who I use to LUV (was A List Preferred) has turned into poor customer service. The flight attendants use to have toilet paper races down the aisle and have fun. Now they just seem angry every time passengers board. I’ll sit there and watch them eye up passengers boarding  like satan just boarded. 

United for me has done a good job. On a flight to Asia, my wife and I flew First Class. The flight crew let us go up front during boarding to sit in the cockpit of the new 787 we were flying on. 


Delta, I avoid like the plague. I have no idea how they win awards. I have never had a flight that wasn’t late or canceled for one reason or another.


American, has issues going thru CLT booked First class and my outbound from CLT, boarded to find the seat back of my seat completely gone. Caution tape on the seat. You would think with seat assignments they would have been proactive... Nope... ended up having to deplane and get bumped to another flight. Won’t fly thru CLT anymore or that matter ATL. 

Flew first class on some Asian carriers and Emirates A380’s. Night and day difference between US carriers and those carriers. The level of comfort and service was incredible. 




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