A few weeks ago I decided to fly back to New Hampshire and surprise my father for his 80th birthday.
Flying out of Mammoth made the most sense financially. The difference between booking out of Mammoth versus flying directly out of L.A. was about $125.
The parking alone at LAX would cost me two-thirds that.
So I booked the flight and figured I could slickly write about my inaugural experience on Horizon Airlines, thus turning it into a business expense.
The IRS must have known.
The flight out was scheduled at 6:30 p.m. My connection to Boston was at 9:50 p.m.
At 3:20 p.m., I receive an automated call from Horizon informing me that my flight has been cancelled.
My Dad’s birthday is the next day. If I don’t catch a red-eye, I don’t make it.
I happen to be driving home at the time of the call. So I throw my bags in the car and head for L.A.
I reach the check-in area at American Airlines a little over an hour before my L.A. to Boston flight.
The automated check-in computer tells me I’m not booked on that evening’s flight.
I get in line to see an agent. The minutes tick by. As many of you know, I’m famously patient. I remain famously patient while those in front of me become zombies, adopting the glassy stare, freezing them in their tracks, unable to respond when signaled by the next available agent.
I literally have to push the couple in front of me towards the counter.
At the counter, the agent tells me that because my Mammoth to L.A. flight was cancelled, that the airline had kindly moved my entire reservation to the next day. Meaning the reason I couldn’t check in was because it was more than 24 hours before my scheduled flight.
Ha ha. Well, fix it, I said.
I’m going to have to send you down to ticketing, replied the man, pointing to a spot some 50 yards down, where more zombies stood in another non-moving line.
I looked at the clock. My flight was scheduled to depart in 48 minutes. I still had to navigate security. It would be tight.
I’m not standing in that line, I said (famously) patiently. I think you can fix the problem right here.
And then something weirdly magical occured. The agent’s bureaucratic demeanor (no, no way, can’t possibly, regulations, etc.) flipped a switch, and he put me on the flight.
And got me a seat in the third row.
And then the stewardess gave me a free cocktail because flight attendants are no longer able to accept cash and she didn’t want to bother with the credit card.
The whole thing was so weird I went digging into my luggage for a copy of The Sheet to see what Clouds had to say about it.
I discovered, via a subsequent phone call to MMSA Vice-President Pam Murphy, that on the preceding day, the plane from Mammoth to L.A. hit a bird over Dodger Stadium, causing some damage that led to the flight scratch.
Hmm. So why couldn’t this information be relayed until 3:20 p.m. the next day. If it had been relayed earlier, many of us booked on the flight could have made other arrangements, carpooled, etc.
Horizon needs to do a better job with their communication.
I then did some research into flight cancellations. As of last week, Horizon had cancelled 13 out of 186 flights since Easter.
Not all, I imagine, hit birds on the way to L.A.
There’s sort of a chicken-and-egg situation here. On the one hand, if no one books the flight, Horizon will find more reasons to cancel it and shift the plane to other, more profitable routes which may require a plane for any number of reasons.
On the other hand, if Horizon is notorious for cancelling, no one will ever book.
Now this isn’t really a ski season issue. Our flights have performed quite well in-season. It’s the offseason flights, already subsidized by MMSA as well as local and county taxpayers, that are more prone to cancellation.
MMSA CEO Rusty Gregory said, “The best way to deal with it is to have busier flights, so don’t stop trying to fly.”
Spoken like a true salesman!
Speaking of Rusty, if you don’t want your flight cancelled, check to see if he’s flying that day.
I asked Big Red about how many times he’s been cancelled on. The response: If a person with Gregory for a last name is scheduled to fly, the flight has gone off 41 out of 42 times.
In other Mountain-related news, I spoke to MMSA Vice-President of Real Estate Jim Smith about the presentation he was supposed to give at the last Mammoth Lakes Planning Commission meeting about future MMSA development plans.
Snith said MMSA plans to bifurcate the Eagle Lodge project with the first phase focused on the base lodge and the second phase focused on lodging when the housing market comes back.
The base lodge project would run about $25 million.
Sheet: Will it be named for [former Planning Commission Chairman] Roy Saari? He was always so fond of that tent you have out there.
Smith (diplomatically): There have been no decisions made as to anything regarding the name [of the lodge].
And from Geisel’s desk …
Incoming District 4 Mono County Supervisor Tim Hansen took his seat on the dais Tuesday. The short meeting, which consisted of only one housekeeping item and a closed session, was his first semi-official day at work alongside the other Board members.
He’ll be formally sworn in on Dec. 7 by Judge Stan Eller.
Tony Colasardo was reappointed to the Mammoth Lakes Recreation Commission last Thursday. Shields Richardson and Dieter Fiebiger were not. Mammoth Lakes Town Council says it’s aim is to reduce the size of the Commission from seven to five members by 2012. Pat Agnitch was also appointed, leaving the Commission with six members for now. Another reduction is expected when further terms expire.
The Coleville Wolves lost last weekend’s Division 1A championship in 8-man football to Pahranagat Valley for the second year in a row. This time, the Wolves fell 40-6, marring another bid for an undefeated season. On the bright side, without Cam Newton on the roster, they are at no risk of suffering forfeitures of any of their wins.
The Bishop Broncos won their first playoff game 41-0. If the Broncos win this weekend, they are in line to host a semifinal playoff game on Dec. 3.
And finally, Toby Qualls ran in the CIF finals on Nov. 20, and finished in 16th place, fast enough to qualify for the State Finals, to be held on Nov. 27 in Fresno, Calif. Qualls ran against 118 other runners, most of them juniors and seniors, and all of which were the top finishers in their leagues from all over Southern California. Only three sophomores were in the top 20 and made it to State. Qualls finished with a time of 17:14.