Here's my tale of woe (really my son's)... For those that don't know I have a 19 year old - he was in CO to spend some time snowboarding w/his significant other that lives in Boulder. Original plan was to fly home this past Wednesday on a direct DEN-BWI flight that would have had him home around midnight.
Around a week before the flight, he got a message from WN that basically said "Weather's going to be crappy, free flight changes" and he ends up on a Thursday afternoon flight. Was odd to me that they would do that so far in advance, as the precise timing of the storm was unknowable at that point. Through the lens of this article, one can see they were already reducing flights to ease the workload.
Tuesday or so, when the timing of the storm was a little more clear, we talked and he moved his flight to an earlier flight on Thursday morning - the thinking being that if things went pear-shaped, there were more options later in the day, and getting him back earlier was good with the arctic front bearing down on the area. He arrives at the airport Thursday morning to the expected pandemonium. Long line to drop bags, long line at security, finally makes it to his gate. Flighaware (an amazing tool) was initially showing that his plan was doing an out and back to SEA before getting him and heading east. That morning it updated to show that his newly-assigned aircraft was already in DEN, having arrived from Austin the previous evening. Sweet. Or not. Getting the play by play while he was at the airport, they shuffled gates, and they ended up at a gate with a sign that said the plane was going to LGA, but announcements that yes, this is your plane, we're waiting for a part, so sit tight. Oh, by the way, use the potty because the water on the plane is frozen solid, so no water and no restrooms for you!
After a while of sitting, and a flight that's something like 6 hours delayed at this point, both Flightaware and the Southwest app showed that his plane had left the gate and was taxiing. I jokingly texted him a screenshot and said "Hey, you left!" to which he replied that he could assure me that the plane (with the tail number FlightAware said was his) was still very much sitting there and very much covered in snow. (that's the literary device known as foreshadowing)
40 minutes later, this mystery flight appears to be in the air. I'm at a music rehearsal for church and playing bass, when he calls. I figure I'll call him back as soon as we're done with the song. He immediately calls again, and I know that something bad was in store. Sure enough, they left about a dozen people behind sitting at the wrong gate. Commence about 2 more hours of standing in lines, trying to go standby, figuring out what the hell happened, airport employees claiming announcements were made with many people disagreeing vehemently. We even looked at trying to buy him a ticket on a United flight that was getting out of there, but that was even more of a poop show. Finally, declaring defeat, he called the girlfriend who made the hour drive to pick him up to try again on Friday, where he was confirmed on a flight, but he neglected to look at the details (more of that foreshadowing thing)..
To be continued...