Flying in the US 101: Avoid changing through Chicago
Gripe time. Various friends and family of mine have gotten stuck in Chicago (and my parents were stuck overnight in refugee-like conditions). But that’s what they’re all like, right? Well, yes, it is what it is -- a massive, multi-terminal, train-connected, oversubscribed airport. But what gets me is that software that composes flights into itineraries needs to be smarter. It scheduled me for a 1:56 minute layover, and even shorter ones were offered. If it had a model of the Chicago airport, how could the algorithm consider that long enough to execute the following?
1. Wait to get off long plane. (They called for people to let others with tight connections get off first. But in a wonderful demonstration of our species capacity for collective action everyone just stood up to get their bags and blocked the walkways anyway.)
2. Wait in line in the overcrowded customs area for a kiosk to scan your passport, print receipt
3. Wait in line to exit the customs area
4. Wait for baggage (this was very slow, and generally embarrassing compared to how efficient the same thing in Tokyo was)
5. Wait in line to exit baggage area
6. (Optional: wait in another long line to recheck bag on the way to connecting flight.)
7. [walk… the airport is big] Wait in line for train to 1 of 3 domestic terminals.
8. Get to terminal 1 [can’t change ticket without waiting through a long ticketing line], wait through long security line.
9. Walk significant distance through terminal B to get to terminal C, then walk to the end to find out 2hrs have elapsed and you have missed the flight.
And then in the bonus round you get to wait at a long customer service line to reschedule the next flight (because the person at the gate refused to do it). Anyway, I’m betting the average time for the above process is often above 2hrs. The software needs to know that!
I’m not actually sure what company is responsible for validating the routes that come up in searches. Google has some data on the frequency with which certain routes are late — you can see it from their flight search results -- which is a start.
I’m about to hit that 24-hours-continuous-traveling mark so please pardon my grumpiness.