Imagine: You're stuck in an airport full of grumpy fliers -- all of you waiting as your flights get pushed backbackback, wondering if you'll have to spend the night in the airport.
Well, a week ago, I did not have to imagine.
I was stuck in Atlanta, trying to make it back home for my birthday dinner (hosted by my lovely wife) while Chicago was getting pulverized by the first major winter storm of 2012.
Then, as they pushed back my flight for the third time, I spotted it: a sign advertising the Fly Delta mobile app. It read: "Cancelled Flight or Missed Connection? 1) Review and Select Other Flight Options 2) Use Scan & Go to Print Your New Boarding Pass.... (etc.)"
Since I had nothing but time to kill, I downloaded it. What I found was useful and occasionally confounding.
Because I didn't need to select another flight, I took the app out for a spin on its other options.
The "Check My Flight Status" option was informative, but not entirely satisfying. First, I had to actually type in my flight number. This was strange: The app already knew my frequent flier number and who I was.
Then, it didn't tell me how my flight had changed--just that it changed--and that required an additional click for more information.
But there were other handy features: A one-stop screen containing my flight information, gate details and flight time. The "Contact Us" page had hot-linked phone numbers that you could touch and the phone would dial.
Newer features, which were advertised but I didn't need to use: tracking checked baggage and an option to pay for them while checking in (a policy that keeps me in carry-on austerity).
My favorite feature didn't even involve a plane. Nope, that prize belongs to the "Parking Remember" page, where you can take a photo of where your car is parked, write clues to where you left it and even save your location by dropping a pin on a map. That's innovation: a virtual homing device to find your car.
In the end, I didn't need to rebook the flight or spend the night on a cot. We got off the ground after a few more hours of waiting -- and at least the Delta App was good for filling that time.
But, by time I got home, the kids were asleep, our delivered dinner was cold and it was no longer my birthday. I wish there was an app to fix that -- missing my party, that is, not aging.