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Sweet: United pulls it out--but another cancelled flight. Christmas travel report.

Sign at gate F5 O’Hare 4:07 p.m. central. (photo by Lynn Sweet)

CHICAGO–Good thing I arrived at Reagan National in Washington early for my 2:45 p.m. flight to Des Moines via Chicago. After a few days off the campaign trail, I’m back on road. But first, travel news.

United cancelled my flight but the communication system I praised in my Friday blog post failed on Christmas. United did not e-mail or robo call to tell me the flight was cut. I did not find out until I was at the airport; I was there at 1:15 p.m. and it turned out be a good thing I was early–and travelling with carry-on luggage, so I could be flexible.

I signed up on the check-in kiosk to go stand by on the 2:15 p.m.–a flight formerly known as the 12:45 p.m, renamed as it was running late. The system had automatically rebooked me on a flight leaving I think about 5:45 p.m which would have landed me in Des Moines near 9:30 p.m.

The United system, however, would not confirm me on the seat for the 2:15, nor could the clerk at the gate. Stand by was the best they could do, I was told. It added some stress since I wanted to make the 4:45 p.m. connection and get in near 6 p.m.

Anyway, I got on the 2:15 p.m. plane–ran into a fellow I had not seen since college and a political acquaintance on her way to Des Moines to stump for Hillary Rodham Clinton.

There were plenty of empty seats; I don’t know why United just could not have confirmed me. Anyway, the system had wiped out my connecting flight, even though now I was going to make it. I was wait listed on the flight I was confirmed on; an Alice–or make that Lynn–in Wonderland moment. Anyway, the United robo call and e-mail kicked in and called to tell me the 4:45 flight was leaving on time.

When I got off my flight at O’Hare, the agent at the gate got me confirmed on the Des Moines flight. The system–Hal’s wild cousin, I think–also booked me to go standby, so here I was sitting by the gate pictured above, when an agent paged me to give me a boarding pass. Except that I already had one.

That’s all for now. Am on the plane. Reporting from seat 6E