Robert J. Sawyer

Hugo and Nebula Award-Winning Science Fiction Writer

I missed Eeriecon, thanks to United Airlines

by Rob - April 23rd, 2006.
Filed under: Uncategorized.

To my considerable sadness and frustration, I didn’t make it to Eeriecon after all. My apologies to anyone who went hoping to see me there.

I hadn’t planned to arrive until Saturday evening, because Saturday morning I was giving a keynote address to the annual meeting of the Federation of State Medical Boards, which was being held in Boston. The conference’s theme was “The Challenge of Change,” and my talk was entitled “Everything Is Different Tomorrow.” The program book described my talk thus:

What is the future of professional certification in a world in which things change overnight? Is a doctor licensed in 1980 competent in the post-Human Genome Project world? How will we handle testing and upgrading in the age of annual paradigm shifts? And just what does it mean to know something in the information age — do you have to actually know it, or only know how to find it?

I stuck pretty close to that outline, and started off by talking briefly about the best-known doctor of tomorrow: Dr. McCoy, from Star Trek (and got a lot of laughter when I suggested that any doctor whose most frequent saying is, “He’s dead, Jim,” probably should have his licensed revoked). The talk seemed to go over very well, and I quite enjoyed giving it.

I scooted from the conference to Logan airport in Boston. I wanted to get from there to Niagara Falls, New York, where Eeeriecon was being held. The closest major airport to Niagara Falls is in Buffalo, but there are no direct flights between Buffalo and Boston on a Saturday, so I’d planned to fly from Boston to Washington, D.C., and from D.C. to Buffalo.

But United Airlines screwed up. Just before we were about to take off, the pilot decided we didn’t have enough fuel, and so we had to wait forever on the tarmac for a fuel truck to come and top us up. By that time, weather had gotten bad, and we were additionally delayed because of that. Upshot was, I made it Dulles Airport too late for my connecting flight — by a matter of minutes. I ended up having to spend the night alone at a Washington hotel, and since there were no flights to Buffalo from Washington today, ended up instead flying straight back to Toronto. I was, and am, really pissed at United Airlines. The pilot should have been monitoring his fuel levels — and United did a terrible job of handling the displaced passengers. I will do everything in my power to avoid having to fly with them again.

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