On Friday, July 22 I was travelling from Tampa, Florida to Montreal on Continental Airlines (www.continentalairlines.com) with a connection in Cleveland, Ohio. Generally I have been fortunate with connecting flights--I can't remember the last time I didn't make a connection, but I guess trouble has to catch up with us all sometime.
On arrival in Cleveland I learned the connecting flight had been cancelled for mechanical reasons. As cancellations go, that is about as good as it gets since that means the airline is responsible for re-routing you or, if that is difficult, putting you up until the next day. (If you get stranded because of weather you may be on your own.) The Continental rep offered some re-routing options, and said the hotels the airline uses for stranded passengers were full. The re-routing option I chose was through Toronto, but before that flight could take off Cleveland was hit with an enormous electrical storm and a ground stop. The flight that was supposed to go to Toronto was diverted to Erie, Pa., and it was unsure when it would depart.
The agent had said the airline would pay if I found my own hotel, which I managed to do, at a downtown Holiday Inn Express. There was a big convention in town and most hotels were full. The hotel proved to be very nice, but not cheap, $176 including tax, plus another $75 in taxi fares to and from the airport. All the Continental reps I spoke with were very nice, so I assume the airline will pick up the costs once I manage to file the paperwork.
Keep reading for more on the outcome, and on the hotel, which is a former bank building with very large rooms and a generous breakfast buffet.