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The Six Stages of Canceled Flight Grief

While riding the bus to LaGuardia on Thursday I checked my email to discover that the flight for which I was heading to the airport had been canceled. I quickly flashed through a range of emotions that made me realize that anyone heading to the airport who receives a flight cancellation notice flashes through these 6 stages of grief:

1) Denial. I received two emails from Continental, each with the same message that my flight was being canceled. But when I received that second email I thought to myself, “oh, since I got two emails, maybe their email system is broken and the whole thing is just a mistake.” I re-read email #1; then email #2. They both said the same thing. Wait, I thought, this is not a mistake.

2) Irrational Anger. They suck!!! Suck!!!! Screw it, I’m only flying Delta. Continental never canceled flights before they merged with United. They always cancel flights now. Hell, they always canceled flights then. Have I even ever been on a flight that took off? They canceled that flight because they knew I had to be in Cleveland this afternoon. They’re doing it to get back at me for some reason. Did I write something about them they didn’t like? They always cancel every flight. I don’t think Continental even flies out of LaGuardia. Why did I book that flight? Obviously they’re going to cancel. That’s it, I’m mailing back my elite card.

3) Rational Thought. Hold on. I can’t even think of the last time my flight was canceled. They probably didn’t cancel this flight just because I’m on it. That doesn’t make sense. And it’s foggy. Very foggy. Soupy. Soupy fog. No one is flying in this. They aren’t out to get me (probably). I’ll just call the airline. They’ll re-book me. Yeah, I have status. They’ll rebook me. Or move me to another airline. Yeah, they’ll do that. Maybe an earlier flight is delayed and I can get on that. Yeah – I’ll get on that earlier flight that hasn’t left yet.

4) Acceptance. What are my options? There’s no flight before 1? That’s not going to get me there on time. What about other airlines? All full? OK, fine, I get it. I’ll take the 1pm. But why am I even bothering to go – I’m going to arrive after my meeting is over.

5) Relapse. Arrive at Presidents Club. Note that earlier flight is indeed delayed and not yet departed. Ask agent if I can be placed on earlier flight. Not so fast, Blank. 50 seats, 49 checked in, #3 on waitlist. Maybe if I start crying, they’ll reconsider.

6) Elation. Head down to the gate, even though I know I’m basically #52 on a flight with 50 seats. Stand around. Talk with other standby passengers. Make joke about the mixed feelings I’ll have if I get on as, on one hand I cleared waitlist, on other hand I will then find myself in Cleveland. Realize person is from Cleveland and does not find joke funny. Hear name called. Somehow clear waitlist. Get on plane. Depart. Arrive before original flight would have arrived. Success!

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  1. Hahaha! What an awesome story, very entertaining. Thanks for sharing!

  2. :lol: :lol: :lol:

  3. Did the exact same thing Monday, except I spent time in PC/UC desperately trying to get PC/UC agents, then 1K line to rebook me on IAH-ICT after IAH-DEN of IAH-DEN-ICT was canceled. Sat on UA300 IAH-DEN at gate for 1.5 hr before finding it was canceled for mechanical. When I got finally got off, IAH-ICT was leaving in 45 minutes. It was Y0, but I was #1 on waiting list after I got the 1K agent to confirm me on a flight that was 7 hours later but waitlist me for the flight in what was now 30 minutes from now. I had to do that from the PC since my phone was dead and I was charging it. I then charged over to the RJ concourse (I always get the ORD and IAH letter concourses confused). The GA let everyone board except her two VDB volunteers and she was still missing two additional pax. When the GA wasn’t around, I told them they might as well board since the GA had already cleared some other waitlisted passengers before I got added to the waitlist (according to 1K agent), so they weren’t going to VDB. (btw, I’ve been finding those RJ GAs have the infuriating habit of telling VDB volunteers to not board even though they clear waitlisted people which is a sure sign that VDBs will definitely not happen. Very unhappy as I’ve had trouble stowing luggage as a result of not having priority boarding.) Then the GA came back and told the VDB volunteers to board. She gave one last call for the two missing pax. After desperately looking at the clock, then my reservation, asking for my CO record locator several times, she finally told me to board without a boarding pass and just find an empty seat and she’d work on setting my PNR to rights after the plane had departed.


    Got to ICT an hour before I would have thru DEN (though I missed my F seats IAH-DEN-ICT which were procured, along with SJO-IAH, with a CR-1), which was nice, but of course, my luggage was not there, which I was expecting. I had three bags from Costa Rica. The first suitcase was full of my clothes, the second suitcase was full of coffee, and the third suitcase was full of pineapples. Two of the suitcases were delivered Tuesday morning, and the pineapple one was delivered Tuesday evening. I must commend CO ICT on stepping up their baggage delivery act. Last time my luggage was lost (my routing was ERI-CLE-MCO-IAH-ICT which was probably why) it sat at ICT for a good 12+ hours before I called and asked why it hadn’t been delivered. The CO baggage tracking people pestered ICT until they got on the ball and got it delivered.

    I was very glad for Global Entry as I had only 1:15 layover in IAH. Even then, I had lots of fun with Customs with a suitcase full of pineapples. Apparently there’s a roving Customs official that questions suspicious looking people. He was leaning against a pillar watching everyone go to the customs lane. Our eyes met, then I looked ahead to the customs lane. I saw in my peripheral vision that he quickly detached himself from the pillar and walked over. Apparently a sweating 20-something with an enormous goatee, wearing a United (tulip) polo shirt, pushing a cart loaded with three suitcases, a laptop backpack, and a large Canon camera bag looked suspicious. He gruffly asked, “What are bringing in?” I very cheerfully replied, “Coffee and pineapples!” I had handed him my passport and Global Entry slip (with a big X on it and an A, for agriculture, scrawled on the back) which totally allayed his suspicions since not only was I GE certified which lowered my risk profile (background check, etc), but I was already self-declared heading for secondary screening, so pretty good chance I’m not smuggling. He sent me on my way. I went up to x-ray customs, slapped my GE slip down, told the jolly African-Americans running the secondary screening that I’m here because “I brought some pineapples.” One guy asked, “Did you cut the tops off?” “Yes sir!” When he saw the x-ray, he said, “Some pineapples! That’s 1… 2… 3… nine pineapples!” “Yup! With Star Gold I get three 70 lb bags!” Lady screener: “What’s Star Gold?” “Well, I’ve flown 120k miles with United/Continental this year, so I get to take three 70 lb bags for free.” “Wow! That’s a lotta flying. What is THAT? Coffee?” “Yup.” “Wow.”

    And that was my trip to SJO for dentist work. Got 11 fillings at $20/apiece.

    And I didn’t even mention staying in the $600/nt suite at the SJO IC for free on IHG’s BRG. :cool:

  4. (Forgot to mention why I was glad for GE. Even with GE and hoofing it hard through the airport, I got to my IAH-DEN gate just as boarding started.)

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