When delayed on any flight, my mind goes a certain checklist, almost like a program. If I could write the logic for the program, it would look something like this …
- IF Airport = Internation then execute search routine for airport lounges
- IF Airport lounge > 1, then evaluate facilities for food, free alcohol, free WI-FI and newspapers
- Choose lounge with the most of that stuff
- ELSE If Airport Lounge = 1, then settle for crap
- ELSE If Airport Lounge = 0 aka STL (St. Louis International) … then grumble and ask airline desk clerk for food voucher
At IAH, last night … I missed my flight to San Jose, Costa Rica because a thunderstorm caused us to circle for 2 hours like idiots, hence missing my connection. After running around to try and catch my flight, I realized that it was a lost cause and headed to Continental customer service.
So after explaining my situation to the counter clerk, she put my on standby for the 9.20am flight and confirmed me on the 11.20 flight, then handed me a phone number for the discount hotel service. My response was utter amazement, as she didn’t even offer a hotel voucher – she explained that weather was not the airline’s fault and hence the hotel was not their problem – the last part of the conversation went like this …
<Rishi> Seriously, this is the rationale?
<Counter clerk (CC)> Yes sir, there is nothing I can do.
<Rishi> Can you offer me a dinner coupon, discounted dinner or a fricking tic-tac?
<CC> Sorry sir. The discount hotel tonight is the Econolodge.
<Rishi> Why didn’t you just offer me a cattle barn or the boat you floated on from Cuba?
<CC> Excuse me, I’m not Cuban, I’m Dominican
<Rishi> I’m sorry … let me rephrase … Why didn’t you just offer me a cattle barn or the boat you floated on from the DR?
<CC> I didn’t come on a boat …
<Rishi> Raft, boat, cherry picking truck, plastic sheet… anyway never mind … you probably don’t know the translation of that … I’ll go to the Sheraton.
That being said, if you are stuck at IAH, you could worse than booking at the Sheraton North Houston, they have a rate for stranded travellers at $77 a night … the Econolodge was $61 a night … the Sheraton is worth the extra $16 a night, with a concierge lounge, free Wi-Fi, drinks, pool and 24 hr gym.
I got back to the airport early to catch a standby flight and here are some of the things you can do while you’re here …
- Go have a margarita and some wings at Chili’s (tucked away in a corner of Terminal B)
- Ride the underground train between terminals B, A, C and the Marriott.
- Ride the above ground terminalink.
- Eat at Harlon’s BBQ in Terminal C.
- Check out some of the international duty free shops in Terminal D.
- Drink a martini in all 4 president clubs TWICE! repeat for longer layovers…
- Go see the weird ugly George Bush “flowing coat” statue.
As for the lounges, the Continental President’s Club lounge is a very nice lounge. In fact, it was rated the #1 lounge for the past 4 years in the US.
They also had a theatre style TV room to watch the Netherlands vs Brazil game in English, which was a quite welcome addition.