Friday, April 15, 2005

The Ontario Incident

Well, we did it. Last night Dawn and I signed our lives away and closed on our townhouse. We're moving in at the end of the month.


I just got a call from crew scheduling - I have an 11:05 show time for a Ontario roundtrip. When mentioning Ontario, I occasionally get asked, "You guys fly that far east!?" Heh, no, not Ontario, Canada...Ontario, CA. It's in Southern California, in the Los Angeles basin, about 50 miles east of LAX. It's the heart of the Inland Empire, the 909, the armpit of SoCal. I used to instruct, and later fly freight, out of an airport just northwest of Ontario, Brackett Field.

Anyways, this brings me to an amusing story. In August 2001, my dad came to visit me in SoCal over a weekend. I had been an intern for TWA that spring, so I had some free passes left over; my dad flew out on one, connecting through St. Louis. My car was broken, so my roommate Brent drove me to Ontario to greet dad. When he arrived, we'd rent a car. I waited for him at the gate (pre-9/11).

So the flight arrives and everybody gets off - and no Dave! I waited until the flight attendants got off and confirmed that nobody else was on board. Hmmm, perhaps he missed the flight? I called MN - mom hadn't heard anything from him since he left Minneapolis. I called the crashpad I was staying at...he hadn't called there, either. I told my flatmates to answer any calls and I'd check in occasionally while I waited for the last TWA flight from STL.

I hung out in ONT, calling home every half hour. I'd been doing this for several hours when Brent answered the phone to tell me that my dad had already been by the crashpad and was driving to Ontario to pick me up. Whaaaat? How in the world did he get here without me noticing? Then I realized: I'll bet he flew to the wrong airport.

Sure 'nuff, that's exactly what happened. Dad flew to LAX instead of ONT. I'd told him he was flying to Ontario, but in his mind, he was going to Los Angeles, and that's the flight he got on. The departure time was the same as the Ontario flight, and he didn't notice the difference in flight number. The gate agent didn't say anything because for non-revs, TWA treated LAX, ONT, and SNA as the same airport. His first inkling that something was wrong was when he went to the Hertz counter and they couldn't find his reservation. Upon further checking, the Hertz employee found his reservation in Ontario. "Wait, I'm not at Ontario??" Fortunately, Hertz had a car from him, and gave him directions, so his mistake merely costed an hour on the 10 freeway and some confusion on my part.

Plus it's a pretty funny story. You hear of people who flew to San Juan PR instead of San Jose CA, or Portland OR vs Portland ME, and after this I can defintately see how it could happen.