A funny thing happened at the airport this morning (insert sarcasm). We checked in for our 6:30 a.m. commuter flight from SAN to LAX and as the clock turned to 6:00 a.m., we still weren’t boarding. We waited. Nothing.

Finally, a staff member announced that our flight attendant failed to show up. Commuter flights are on regional jets that are staffed by only one flight attendant. Apparently, she has spent the night in a local hotel that crew members usually stay in. Once her she became tardy, American Airlines had the hotel check her room. There was no sign of her or her belongings. As we found out later—our commuter terminal is quite small so you can hear people talk—she simply overslept in another room (insert whatever you like here).

The repercussions of one missing person impacted probably hundreds of people, including us, and I can’t even imagine how much this event cost the airline.

As you can imagine, nothing moved quickly and by the time they officially cancelled the flight (well after departure time), it was too late for us to rent a car.

Passengers with flights around noon, were put on a shuttle bus. Luckily, it’s Sunday so morning traffic to LAX shouldn’t be an issue (though driving up there at any time is still risky business). The rest of us were re-routed. Aggravation levels here are pretty epic.

So, instead of flying on a beautiful Cathay Pacific plane from LAX to HKG, I have to fly American Airlines SAN-LAX-NRT. At least they were able to get us on a Cathay Pacific flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. We’ll arrive 6.5 hours late and the almost midnight arrival to the hotel will likely throw off our plans the following day because we’ll need to sleep later.

Our new commuter flight is overbooked now so the airline is frantically offering $250 flight vouchers to people who aren’t in a hurry. There aren’t another volunteers so they just announced that, basically, someone is going to get bumped off the flight because it’s exceeding acceptable weight limits.

The end of this story remains to be seen as it applies to us. We’re at LAX right now and they are unable to assigns us seats in business class (where we are booked) because the flight is oversold. And because we have no seats on this flight, they’re unable to assign seats on our NRT-HKG Cathay Pacific flight. Unassigned seats are especially aggravating when flying with kids.

I was offered 2000 miles or a $50 per person American Airlines flight credit as compensation on the spot, which I declined. I’m not going to get into how I paid extra to fly Cathay Pacific and could have just flown Japan Airlines to Tokyo and then Hong Kong if I wanted to connect in Tokyo, skipping an extra connection. I’ll follow up with them later because the amount I’m out of pocket plus aggravation is substantially higher than that.

Anyway, domestic air travel can be aggravating these days but I’ve never been on a flight cancelled because a crew member didn’t show. Have you?

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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  1. We've never had this happen. I'm surprised American Airlines did not have stand-by crew in case flight attendant calls in sick? Flying with kids can be stressful enough without delays and changes.

    1. I was surprised there was no one stand-by either. I still haven’t resolved compensation but am working on it!

  2. If I was on a 6:30 AM flight and the flight was cancelled because of a flight attendant and on top of that miss a connection…. AA would have never heard an end to it. So unprofessional and irresponsible of the FA and Airline. Hope you have no trouble getting fair compensation.

  3. I am sorry that this happened to you but your reaction to it is admirable. It sounds really stressful and I can’t believe how some people might be so irresponsible. I myself had recently very bad experience flying with AA.

    1. I am loyal to oneworld because need to fly Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific so frequently. My last few flights with AA haven’t been great either, but I have had some flawless flights in the last year. I just wish things weren’t so inconsistent with them. You just never know what to expect. I also know they’re getting new planes but I’ve yet to experience one. That would be nice!

  4. Wow- so frustrating! You dealt with it much better than I would have! When you travel with kids, these types of things are even more of a big deal. I hope it all ended well!

  5. I understand your frustration, however I think it’s pretty unfair to say that through speculation the flight attendant overslept & did’nt show. Where you there to see this yourself or speak to the flight crew? Who knows if she was ill or possibly another situation? That is personal information & it is not disclosed by airline personnel. Rumors fly like wild fire.

    1. Hi! Yes, the oversleeping bit came from the agent at the gate desk who was involved in trying to fix the situation. I was surprised by how candid they were. Part of me appreciated it, but I assume they mentioned it when they knew because passengers did ask if there was a serious problem (illness or other misfortune).