Saturday, September 04, 2010

Odyssey

First off, Rykert and I are in Door County, WI for an extended long weekend. It's been a crazy summer, and we desperately wanted to get away for a few days. We made a last minute decision to head north, and so far it appears to have been a very good idea. Except for the wind. It's been cool and windy, but we drove the peninsula today stopping here and there. There's also a yarn shop within walking distance from our hotel, which was unplanned but fortuitous. Now we're taking a quick break, and I just had to share with you the insane few days that I have had.

On Wednesday I left Iowa for a very quick (36 hours total) trip for work to San Antonio. The plan was to fly out Wednesday, attend meetings all day Thursday, and then fly back Thursday night so that I could wake up in my own bed on Friday, which also happened to be my birthday. The first two parts went well. I flew down without incident, attended the meetings with productive results, but then all hell broke loose.

Things started to turn sour the minute I arrived at the SA airport. My traveling companion and I went through TSA security in the same line. Somehow we both got selected for a "random" screening. Basically I was pulled aside, patted down, felt up, and my bags unpacked. My flight to Chicago had been pushed back 15 minutes. We finally boarded, and then they announced that we needed to add fuel due to a change in flight plans due to a line of strong storms moving through the Midwest. So we waited an hour, and finally took off. I was still hopeful that if I could get to Chicago, I might still make my connection back to Cedar Rapids. However, mid-air they announced that we had to again alter the flight plan and that it would add flying time and we wouldn't arrive in Chicago until 10:20, which was when I was supposed to land in Cedar Rapids on my second flight. I was deflated.

But wait, just as we are getting ready to land, they announce that the pilot had found a "short cut" and that we would now land at 9:30. Knowing that nothing leaves Chicago on time in the evening, I had hope that I could still get home. The tray tables were locked and seats were in upright position, and the flight attendants were in there jump seat, yet it was clear we weren't getting any closer to the ground. After another 45 minutes, the pilot announces that we are in a holding pattern due to the storms. Again, deflated, but hope springs eternal. If nothing's getting into Chicago; nothing's leaving Chicago - if I can land, I might still be able to get out. Another 45 minutes go by, and the pilot announces that we can't land and we are running out of fuel, so we have to divert to Indianapolis for more fuel.

As we land in Indianapolis at 10:30 CT, it becomes clear that it's going to be a long night. We aren't allowed off the plane and sit on the tarmac for hours. After an hour or so they refuel. The captain files a new flight plan. With the storm system, the new plan requires that we fly from Indianapolis down over St. Louis and then into Chicago from the west. Insane. My traveling partner makes us hotel reservations in Chicago.

The cabin is again prepared for takeoff, and we taxi to the runway where the plane stops for another 30 minutes or more. The captain announces that they are having a "mechanical issue" and there is a "disagreement" about how to resolve it. Seriously? So we sit, again. Finally, it's 2 o'clock in the morning Eastern Time, and they decide that we've been sitting on the plane for too long (a total of 8+ hours) so they let us off and into an abandoned airport. It's important to note that at no point in any of these delays or during the flight were we offered anything to eat. Not even a tiny package of pretzels. At one point, I asked each of the flight attendants if there was any food or if there was any way I could step off to grab something. I was completely ignored. At one point I texted Rykert about my woes, and told him that I was so hungry I was considering eating Sky Mall. He responded, "Is that a restaurant at the airport?" I respond: "No. Haven't been off plane. Might eat Sky Mall catalog."

But back to the story, so we sit in the abandoned airport for a bit, I scavenge for a crumb and seriously consider reaching into a closed Starbucks and taking a sandwich and leaving a twenty. Eventually, they announce the inevitable, without apology, the flight will be rescheduled for noon Fridayn and provide a voucher for a hotel room. We cancel our Chicago hotel rooms.

Luckily, we were able to get on an earlier flight (6:45) to Detroit (and then on to CR) on another airline. I went to my free hotel room, took a shower, and slept for 2 hours before heading back to the airport to discover that my 6:45 flight to Detroit was not taking off until 10. So I sat in a frigid airport for hours (I searched high and low for a blanket but settled for a new pair of socks) and hoped that I would make the connection in Detroit. Luckily, all went according to the new plan and I got back to IC at 1:30 on my birthday. Just enough time to unpack my suitcase, repack my suitcase, drop the dog off at the kennel, and then drive 6+ hours north.

I have said for years that I have a black cloud over my head when I travel by air. And with every trip I take, the theory becomes solidified. This is particularly true with work related travel. Delays, re-routing, lost luggage: it happens to me all the time. One of my favorite stories was from when I was in college. I was flying back for Christmas from New Orleans to Des Moines. I was supposed to connect in Minneapolis. Somehow I ended up in Fargo. Story of my life.

2 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

amy said...

Too bad you didn't have a knitting project with you - all that idle time and no needles/yarn.

janna said...

UGH.... But did you have time for any fun in San Antonio? I lived there for 20 years, and my sister still lives there - I miss it like crazy! And it's a good thing you weren't going there today - they're having crazy weather due to TS Hermine....

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