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As my mostly empty blog hints, life has gotten away from me. From Portal to the Universe in the fall to Galaxy Zoo in the winter to travel travel travel in spring and summer, I’ve been happily running amok online and on American Airlines for the past 10 months or so.

I’ve reached the point of “Wow – it’s not going to calm down, is it?” and I’m going to try and force myself to budget time to blog since it is clear that free time no longer exists (or at least free time not spent with the newest member of our household – my horse Skye)

In this first blog post (which will be followed in short order by at least two more posts on MS Faculty Summit and the upcoming Solar Eclipse I’m going to go see) I want to actually pause a moment to sing the praises of American Airlines.

This year I’m flying *a lot*. So far in 2009, I’ve been to Oxford twice, Long Beach, Pasadena, Ontario (CA), Seattle, Kansas City, Princeton, NEAF (outside of New York), Houston, and probably a few more places I’ve flown to and forgotten. Through it all I’ve faced my share of delays, spent one night stranded in Chicago, and ran across Dallas more than once. Through it all, I’ve flown American Airlines in a desperate attempt to at least get consistent frequent flier miles. American isn’t showy – food isn’t free on domestic, and there is no free wireless in any of the terminals I’ve encountered. Their aircraft aren’t splashy, the seats are small, but – they are affordable and in the face of all sorts of chaos they’ve never been rude, and they’ve always tried to help me. I’ve flown United before (but won’t again unless forced); they’ve misplaced my dog, verbally abused me, and generally been rude and offered all sorts of surprises of the not-so-nice variety with excuses instead of apologies. I’ve flown Southwestern, and have no complaints, but they don’t exactly go to Heathrow. American Airlines – they’re my carrier.

And I’m going to stay their client because of what they did Friday. I made a big air flight booking mistake. I’m currently at MS Faculty Summit in Seattle. This meeting ends Tuesday. I have to be in Shanghai Thursday afternoon. No big deal. Plenty of time. Um… No… Wrong. I let MS and the Eclipse tour both book me flights (on American Airlines) and didn’t pay too much attention until about a month ago when I had the horrible realization that I didn’t get back to St Louis until after my flight to Shanghai had already left Chicago! I called American and the person I got said she was very sorry, but to rebook everything would cost $2k. Yes, $2,000. So I got sad and booked a 1 way ticket on a different (cheaper) carrier that would allow me to leave Seattle early enough to catch my St Louis to Chicago to Shanghai chain of flights. I booked myself on a terrifying flight set actually – last flight to Denver followed by last flight to St Louis, landing after midnight with a 6am flight out of St Louis. If one flight failed, I missed my flight to Shanghai. Anyone who knows me in real life knows I have been massively angsting about this and was planning to actually play standby roulette to try and catch an earlier direct flight to St Louis.

Well, Friday that area of angst was over. A friendly lady from American called me and asked if I knew I had a physically impossible set of flights. I said yes, I explained I couldn’t afford the rebooking fee. I explained I had a flight on another carrier but was going to try and fly standby on American on a particular flight. She said “Flight ###?” and I said yes. 10 seconds later she had me confirmed on what is (this week only) the flight of my dreams. I will now get 8 hours at home between my two trips, get to swap suitcases (and laptops – I have my netbook with me in Seattle), and I am far less stressed about missing my Shanghai flight.

Thank you American for making my life
a little less stressful.

UPDATE: Today is my fated trips from hell. I’m so glad American rebooked me. I just got a call from the carrier – United/US Airways – on which I’d booked my overnight cheapo flight originally saying the flights were delayed and I was rebooked for tomorrow. I would have missed my flights to Shanghai.