As I have mentioned once or twice in past blog entries, I traveled quite a bit on company business for a period of some 6 or 7 years. In doing so I would earn lots of points with the various loyalty programs for hotels, car rentals, and air travel. In my experience, by a great measure, the hotel points were the most useful and usable.
The wife and I planned a 4-night trip to Paris and used Starwood Points (SPG.com,) to secure a room at the fancy Prince de Galles hotel, which was and still is part of the Starwood chain’s Luxury Collection. I probably need not point out that this was a very special thing for us because working stiff’s do not generally stay at Luxury Collection properties! We are talking probably $500 a night for a room overlooking the dumpster in the courtyard!
The hotel was a gorgeous and elaborate old place no more than a block or two away from the famous Avenue Champs Elysees and also a short walk from the Arc de Triomphe. Very castle-like relative to the usual US hotel. Definitely one of those times when you feel like you are in a movie. A French movie most likely. The staff was all French of course but spoke perfect English as well and were very pleasant and helpful. We had gone to some effort to learn a few basic French phrases to ease our way. With that and a polite greeting and request for assistance, (in French,) we did very well with ordering meals, getting a coffee, getting museum tickets, etc.
Many would say that 4 nights in Europe is not enough time to justify the 6-7 hour flight time, but that’s how many free nights I was able to get so we made the best of it. Which brings me to the reason this post is called “Chicago in Paris.”
We flew from Philadelphia to Paris, via Chicago. That seems counterintuitive since you need to fly substantially west to Chicago before you can fly much farther east to Paris – but whatever. If you are flying on United, as we were, it is always quite likely that you are going to pass through Chicago at some point.
So here is the thing. We left Philadelphia for Chicago sometime late afternoon, arriving at O’Hare maybe 7:00 PM or so Central time. We had a brief layover and boarded our plane to Paris. THEN the delays kicked in. Not weather, but some minor mechanical issue of this or that nature. We sat for maybe 2 hours or so, until the issue was resolved, but then we were told that the flight crew had run out of time and the flight could not continue! Hey, this stuff happens every day and has happened to me a few times, but sheesh – we only have 4 nights in Paris! Come on now!
So the plane was emptied out and we were all shuttled over to a pretty nice hotel near the airport, where we made the best of it for the night. The room was covered by the airline of course and I think they gave us some small amount of money for a meal. (We ordered a pizza.) We showed up at the airport bright and early the next morning and managed to make it to Paris without further mishap. So our first night in Paris was spent in Chicago! Nowhere in sight to practice ordering a café au lait!
The Working Stiff