TechEd 2005 was fun. However, my return trip from TechEd was anything but fun.

For unknown reasons, United Airlines decided to cancel my flight from Chicago O'Hare to Seattle. Without telling me. Until I got to Orlando's airport.

Unfortunately, my flight to Chicago was delayed for over an hour due to some "weather related" issues in Denver, so I reached Chicago after 10:30pm. Would have missed my original connecting flight anyways.

And since this was all "weather related", I am responsible for paying to stay either in Orlando or Chicago. The United agent tells me that I should try to catch stand-by in Chicago instead of Orlando because Orlando was booked solid tomorrow (makes sense - people leaving TechEd), so I hopped on the flight to Chicago.

Apparently, United stranded a lot of people at Chicago on Friday. There were many angry passengers milling about, the nearby hotels quickly filled up, and the PA system in the airport announced that checked-in luggage will NOT be available for the night. I felt fortunate that I had my carry-on roller with me.

Then, O'Hare declares that all "un-authorized" personel must leave the premises by midnight. So much for flying the friendly skies.

The next morning, I had to make sure to wake up early and rebook for stand-by for the remaining leg of my return flight since my original flight was cancelled. I have no idea why I bother paying for a plane seat when my flight can be cancelled without telling me and I get put on stand-by. Southwest has the right idea here regarding seating.

My takeaway -- always fly direct; do not go through O'Hare, and avoid United Airlines.

My other takeaway -- all this travel has aggravated some muscle in my neck, so I am now stuck in bed unable to do much. Fortunately, I can lay the laptop around and use a wireless keyboard, but it will be some time before I can sit up and seriously type on a keyboard.

So, TechEd 2005 was great. The return -- not so great.

//David