Team changes itinerary to beat Hurricane Rita

Lafayette, LA – If you are holding your breath whether Team CajunBot will make it past Hurricane Rita, let go. We have changed our itinerary to beat Rita.

We were scheduled to fly out Friday night from Lafayette, through Houston, to Ontario, CA.

Instead, Murali is en route as I write, about to reach Ontario in an hour or so, if all has gone well. Joshua, Pablo, Vidhya, Christopher, Santhosh, and Daro are driving to Shreveport, to catch the Friday early morning flight. The four hour drive in normal days, is likely to take over 10 hours, with everyone evacuating north.

The people still remaining in Lafayette are Patrick, Scott, and I; stayed back to take care of family as the storm looms. If all goes well, we will head west on Tuesday.

My many thanks to Shaleen “Shae” Landry of Navigant for finding ways to get the team out. She spent the first half of the day finding alternatives through Houston. Just when she had everything in place, we found Continental Express had shutdown today (Thursday’s flight).  She had to start all over again to get seats on American Airlines, flying out of Shreveport.

This experience brought out an interesting ideosyncracy of airlines that would make FEMA blush. Today, Thursday, around 11:00am Continental Express canceled its PM flights from Lafayette to Houston. I called to find out the status of the Friday flights, when we were scheduled to leave. Found that the Friday flight were expected to leave as scheduled. Imagine that. Flights a day before the storm were canceled, but the flights on the day (rather hours) of the storm were not.

Of course, according to their policy, I could not change to another carrier until they canceled the flights. So I am expected to wait and re-route my team after the storm hits and all flights, including those going north, are canceled.

Shae and I figured we will just buy new tickets on another airlines, instead of changing existing tickets. Once Continental decides it will cancel the ticket, we will seek refund for the tickets on canceled flights.

– Arun Lakhotia

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