What a time to forget the trail mix...
I purposely went out and bought trail mix for this week. Bagged it, got it ready to go, and then in my rush to make my flight, forgot to take it.
This didn’t occur to me until I was already at the airport, waiting on my flight. I checked the flight status before leaving for the airport. It showed on-time, no delays. Decent weather in DC where I would get my connection to Indianapolis. Snow is falling lazily in Buffalo; nothing that would cause an issue here.
But as luck would have it, the plane was coming into Buffalo from Philadelphia, where nothing runs on time. Ever.
At least it seems that way. Sometimes I think that airport should just eliminate its schedules altogether.
“Well, we need to get these 10 flights out and these 10 flights in… what times should we be scheduling them at?”
“Eh… just let them do whatever.”
Seems like that might work out better.
Anyway, an hour delay out of Buffalo… and only an hour layover in DC. This was going to be interesting. Just how interesting was yet to be seen.
The flight landed at Regan National at the exact time my flight was supposed to depart for Indianapolis. We taxi to the gate where we proceed to sit and wait for a ground crew to help park the plane.
You would think these highly paid, professional pilots that can fly the plane 500 mph in the dark and find an airport could park the damn things without help…
Unfortunately they sent the ground crew to the wrong gate, which if you’re familiar with Regan National… it is perhaps the most logistically screwed up airport in the history of airports. There is no way for ground crew to go from the odd-gates side of a concourse to the even-gates side of the same concourse without going all the way around the concourse. So the ground crew was sent to gate 35 when the plane came into gate 36… and 10 minutes later we were able to park.
You have three concourses that aren’t connected together anywhere but the main concourse on the wrong side of security. Passengers can’t go from concourse to concourse without exiting and re-entering security, so they shuttle-bus passengers between the concourses and make them go up and down the outside stairs of jetways. US Airways express flight all leave from the same 2 gates. They park the planes out on the tarmac a bus-drive away from the terminal…
Hence I avoid this airport, usually. This week I had no other options.
I jumped on the shuttle to take me to the other concourse to try and get my connecting flight. I scramble to get there as quickly as possible. I approach the unattended gate, a plane is still sitting there with the jetway attached, but there is no gate agent. I quickly run to the flight board to check the status of my flight. It’s still showing boarding. I hear the door at the gate open and run back to the gate.
“This is still the flight for Indianapolis?”
“Yes,” the agent said, “but it’s closed.”
“Well, the jetway isn’t closed up yet, can I get on the flight?” I said handing her my connecting boarding pass.
“I’ll go check with the pilot, hang on.” She said as she ran back through the door.
I watch the pilots in their dimly lit cockpit as I see her reach around the jetway cover to knock on their window and get their attention. I see her gesturing to the pilot and he opens the side window to hear her.
He looks up at the gate. Looks back at her…
…and shakes his head, no.
That rat fucking bastard.
The gate agent returns with a long face as they roll the jetway away from the plane and push it back.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “it’s his decision… I asked, I even pleaded. You saw him shake his head?”
“Yeah, I did.”
“I’m sorry, there’s really nothing I can do.”
“I know.” I replied with obvious annoyance in my voice. “So, how does US Airways intend to get me to Indianapolis tonight?”
“Well, we have a 6:45AM flight…”
“No... tonight. I scheduled this flight to get there tonight.”
“That was our last flight out tonight, I’m sorry.”
“I realize that, hence holding it for another five minutes to get ALL the passengers on might have been worthwhile… don’tchyathink?”
“I’m sorry sir, re-ticketing you for tomorrow morning is the best I can do. You can take the shuttle to the other concourse and speak with customer service.”
So I shuttle back to the concourse I landed at. There is no one at the customer service desk, so I head up to the airline club. There is always someone up there.
The rep behind the desk at the airline club wasn’t very helpful. There were no flights on any other airline to get me to Indianapolis and all she wanted to do was stick to her “policies.”
“It was a weather delay sir, we don’t compensate passengers for weather delays.”
“But I could have made the flight if we had a ground crew to park the plane…”
“Oh, I hear that excuse all the time.” She replied with a tone of accusation, as if I didn’t do everything I could to make my flight.
“Well,” I said, “if you hear that so often maybe the airline should do something to FIX that PROBLEM.”
I believe it was at that point she understood the gravity of my displeasure. She quickly got up, “I’ll get my supervisor for you sir…”
I waited for her supervisor, sending text messages to Morri. I knew she would have some empathy for my plight. The desk agent returned and told me it would be just a minute.
I was looking down at my phone sending text messages when I was approached by a young man, all smiles, obviously intent on trying to calm me down, or at least make me less unhappy even if he too said he couldn’t do anything for me.
“I’m sorry for the travel issues you’ve run into today… how can I assist you?” he asked.
I explained the whole thing. Best he could do was offer me a discounted hotel room at a nearby hotel.
“If you call the number on the coupon they can help you find a room.” He suggested.
I thanked him and left, still very annoyed and displeased.
As I walked out past security to the hotel information desk, dialing the number on the coupon, I looked at the flight tickers for anything going close to Indianapolis. There was a flight to Columbus, delayed until 9:30 PM. It was now 8:35 PM, I had some time before making that decision, but that would be about a three hour drive to Indianapolis from there.
“I’m sorry sir, there are no hotel rooms available within your area…” the voice on the phone said, “if you call back in 15 minutes we might have something free up for you when our system refreshes.”
I thought, you’re using a real-time system you can’t manually refresh? That’s awesome…
I stepped up to the courtesy kiosks and started calling hotels directly.
Nothing. Nothing at the Hilton, Marriott, Hampton, Embassy, Super 8, Econolodge, Sheckie’s Swedish Institute and Flop House. My Diamond VIP status didn’t even matter. Not a single non-english speaking person at the local hotels could free up a room for me.
I even called the Hilton hotline.
Not a single room, anywhere.
Sleep in the airport… or move on.
Sleeping in the airport is no fun… going somewhere else, could be an adventure.
I raced back up to US Airways ticketing and approached the counter. It was 9:05PM.
I step up to the counter with my current boarding pass for tomorrow morning in hand and try to get the attention of one of the agents. Two agents are there working on another passenger’s ticket and talking to each other. One reaches out to me and takes the boarding pass from my hand without acknowledging me or diverting from her conversation.
She looks at the boarding pass.
“What is this?”
“It’s my re-issued boarding pass for tomorrow morning to Indianapolis. But you have a flight right now in delay going to Columbus, Ohio. I want to get on that one instead. Let’s make this happen!”
“Oh, no, no, no,” she said, “I was supposed to go home at nine, I can’t do this right now.”
I took a very deep breath and reminded myself… sympathy. Empathy. More flies with honey…
“Ma’m,” I started, “I’m sure you’ve had a very long day, as have I. I just really can’t spend the night here…”
“Ok, ok.. hang on a minute.” She went through the door behind her, I was hoping with the purpose of going to go work on this.
A moment later, the same customer service manager I dealt with for the hotel pass came out, again, all smiles.
“Ok, so you want to go to Columbus instead?”
“Yeah, I can drive to Indy tonight from there.”
“Ok, they’re going to be closing security and the plane is boarding, we have to run!”
And run we did… to the other concourse from where US Airways’ ticketing actually is. I picked up my bags and we ran to security. He flashed his badge and explained to the security guard I have to change flights and get through with a boarding pass dated for tomorrow. They took my ID and boarding pass and let me through.
The gate was just on the other side of security. We got to the gate; he took control of a terminal and printed my new boarding documents.
“Ok, you’re all set. Good luck on the drive to Indy.”
“Thank you so much for your help tonight, I really appreciate it.”
“Not a problem! Glad you won’t be stuck here. That would have sucked.”
Indeed it would have. How much trouble could I get into dragging bags behind me in Washington DC?
But, I know Etch lives between Columbus and Indianapolis. That could be just the right amount of trouble to end the day with.
I took a seat on the plane and quickly dialed him up.
“Yo dude, wassup?” was his greeting.
“Hey man, I’m in DC right now, on a plane going to Columbus. I’ll be there in an hour or so. You free tonight?”
“So, you’re flying to Columbus, right now?”
“Yep, will be there in about an hour.”
“That’s cool. I have to drive up to Columbus? Or, what is your plan? Where do you have to go?”
“I’m driving to Indianapolis. I missed a flight, Columbus was the closest I could get.”
“Oh, ok. So you’ll have to drive through here anyway. We could go somewhere around here.”
“Sounds good to me as long as you’re free.”
“Cool. Yeah, hey. Yeah, we can go out for some drinks or something. It would be great to see you.”
“Sure would be! I have to get running, but I’ll call when I land.”
“Ok man, and in the meantime I’ll find someplace we can go.”
“Somewhere with food… man, I haven’t had anything since lunch.”
“Ok, cool. See you soon.”
The flight went quickly. The time seemed to speed by. I landed in Columbus, haggled with Avis (and lost) getting a “car,” (sorry, a Cobalt is not a car. It’s a paper cup on wheels) and I hit the road.
I spoke with Etch a couple times as he determined our destination.
“There is a b-dubs in Huber Heights, but they close at 1AM. Would only give us about a half-hour of time there.”
“Well, that works if that is where you want to go.”
“Nah, let me find something else, I’ll get back to you.”
I kept driving. The weather was worsening as I got further west. The truck traffic was merciless, and of course, Avis gave me a car with no windshield washer fluid in it.
Nothing like driving blind, on unfamiliar roads, at night, in the snow at 75 MPH in a car that gets tossed by every flake and wind gust it encounters.
“Taylorville Tavern,” Etch called back with this suggestion, “they’re open until two and she said she’d cook us anything we want all night.”
“Awesome. Sounds like a plan.”
Really, at this point, anything sounded good. Just to get off the road for a bit. To relax and not have to be running. I found it by the address on my GPS. It was a quiet area on the outside – the tavern tucked away in the corner of a business plaza. A gentle snow was still falling all around, covering everything in white.
I walked into a smoke filled bar-room. I saw Etch and his girlfriend near the pool tables shooting a game. I walked across the nearly empty bar and took a quick inventory of the people that were there. Typical, small-town watering hole type crowd.
Etch and his girlfriend both greeted me with hugs.
“You know, after I left the project I just figured, it’s one of those things,” he explained, “you know, we didn’t get to work with each other enough, then I’m gone and I’m thinking, well I guess I’ll probably never see these guys again.”
“But here I am.”
“Here you are! That’s cool man. You’re one of those guys I want to keep in touch with.”
“Same goes for you. I figured I’d have to drive through your neck of the woods, how could I not try and get together with you for at least one drink?”
“Well I’m glad you thought of it,” he said as his girlfriend put her arms around him. He smiled a beaming smile. The kind that gives you a sense of not just his genuine happiness, but something that can only be described as bliss. We sat down and perused a menu as we had some drinks.
“We’ve always had good times on the road, you know?” he said, “Like… Titusville!”
“Oh, what? Titusville? I’ve never been to Titusville! I have no idea what you’re talking about!” I joked back at him. His girlfriend laughed and we both gave her that, “It happened on the road, it stays on the road” smile and wink as we all laughed.
We drank, shot pool and had some standard fare bar food until about 2:30AM. We laughed a lot, and shared some old stories. We caught up on life, and what has been happening in our lives since the last time he and I were actually able to get together… it’s been so long, I can’t even say for sure when it was? Tacoma last summer? There must have been a time after that… but the days blend into the weeks and the weeks fly by… before you know it, an entire month has passed and so much of life has passed by with it.
The bartender had fun with us and we tortured her a bit trying to make this small-town bar’s hand-written receipt into something that can actually be expensed. I decided it just wouldn’t happen. I covered the tab. I’ll make it up somewhere.
We said our good-byes and I hit the road for another two hours of driving this little red death-trap across the Midwest.
I arrived at my hotel at about 4:20AM, ready for sleep. I had called the hotel from the road to ensure they were still holding my room. I walked in and a tired looking desk clerk quickly processed my check-in… I staggered to my room carrying my bags, dropped everything inside the door, stripped to boxers and collapsed in bed.
My 7:30 wake-up call would be coming all too quickly…
Hehe you Traveling Bastard.
I told you to ruin their night for screwing you over so badly. Those asswipes...
Glad to read the full story though hehe, a true horror from Gate 6.
But hey, at least no fat guy was stroking your arm with his finger.
Travel sucks...Plain and simple.
The drive goes by a lot faster when not done in a blizzard.
Although I got to sleep a little longer and still made it here on time, it was difficult to get up this morning. To leave where I was; the warmth of bed, the comfort… the sheer pleasure of it. And for what? To get in a car and drive 3 hours in the dark.
And arriving on time, I discover of the two people I need to meet up and work with, neither are here at 7 AM. One doesn’t even start until 8 AM, the other just hasn’t shown up yet.
At least the car has XM. Have to look at the positives.
Getting cars with XM is actually starting to change my mind on the whole “pay for radio” thing. I’m still not for it, but it does have its benefits.
This is just the start of what undoubtedly will be a long week. Two days in a VA hospital in Cleveland, then two more days at a VA hospital in Indianapolis. Driving the whole way.
The hospital is your typical, sterile looking, no-frills type environment. Usually what you find at VA’s. Most of the workers are young and patients very old. There is no wireless network here, at all. Almost unheard of for a hospital these days. The cafeteria sells Folgers coffee… the highest selling, yet lowest rated coffee brand in America. Go figure.
I stretch and yawn off more of the sleep I didn’t get last night. I’m looking forward to getting to a hotel. Hoping today goes smoothly and I can escape at a reasonable hour. I’m betting I could sit here for the next four hours typing away at the meaningless and trivial details of my life and no one at this hospital would miss me.
I’m here alone on a vague and ambiguous job where I won’t have any actual work to do unless something goes wrong. Then my job is to simply assuage peoples’ fears about the product until either I or the hospital’s IT personnel can figure out a solution to the problem.
How’s that for a job description? Would anyone apply for a job where the duties were, “do nothing, unless something breaks… then you might still have nothing to do but take the brunt of our customers’ abuse.”
Since when has my career degraded back to a customer service job? I might as well put on a blue polyester vest and a name tag that says, “Hello! My name is BIRRA, how can I help you?”
Not that there is anything wrong with jobs like that… every company needs people to go to work for them on the front lines and not everyone gets to be an astronaut. But I really thought I left those kinds of positions behind when I opened my own business. I’m used to wearing multiple hats every day… but this is an old, worn out hat I haven’t worn in a long, long time.
But wear it I will. I asked for more opportunities on other contracts with this company… I guess this is my reward. Or test. Or punishment.
Regardless, I will attack it as I attack every job – and do it to the best of my ability.
Even if I have to say, “Thank you for shopping with us, have a nice day!” five-hundred times today.
Welcome to the world of government work. I’ve done… nothing today. Left at 4 AM to get here at 7 AM. It is now 11 AM and I have done absolutely no work. None. Zero.
But at least I’m not alone.
I sat in the tech-workshop area for the majority of the day. I watched one guy sleep in his chair for a good 30 minutes. I listened to two workers argue the definition of “broken” over an LCD panel with a backlight issue. I’ve listened to two other workers arguing over the Cleveland Cavaliers for a good 20 minutes…
Ok, scratch that… 40 minutes… they’re still going.
Ah, if only I had a floor-creeper and a truck to work on… I could be napping right now.
Yes people… these are your tax dollars at… rest.
Going to go have lunch shortly. There is just nothing better to do…
Three hours of driving, mostly through a blinding lake-effect snow storm... only to have no work to do, turn around, and drive right back through the same storm...
...what a productive day....
I’ve been in Chicago to start this week for training and meetings with our customer. A new product has been released, a product I’ve already implemented for two customers – this training gets filed under the “good idea, bad timing” file for me.
Last night I went out to dinner with all of our team members who were also in attendance, and a special surprise – one of the guys I worked with in Australia came in for other trainings as well. It was good to see him and catch up.
On a side note, we went into the customer’s cafeteria for lunch and as he and I walked in, Men At Work queued up on their over-head music system, almost as if it was planned.
Anyway, dinner was wonderful. We drank a lot of wine, and ate some really good food. But without Etch there, there is simply no impetuous for most of the team to go out and party. It is seriously lame. Horribly lame. It was 9PM and everyone wanted to go to bed.
We left the restaurant that was within walking distance of my hotel. On the other side of my hotel was a bar. I announced to the group that I was going to be at that bar for the next 2 hours, if anyone cared to join me.
That was a long lead-in for a short story… but I felt it was necessary.
So I walk into the bar and give the entire venue a quick perusal. Sparse crowd; a group of younger people in the one corner, mostly older people at the tables eating and a couple of bartenders.
Eh, it was Tuesday night and it was snowing… I didn’t expect much.
I take a seat in the middle of the bar. A blonde, female bartender stepped up to where I was sitting.
“What can I get for you?” she asked in a thick southern drawl.
“Bacardi and sprite please, double.”
“Can I see your ID?”
I dig out my license, momentarily considering there aren’t too many 18 year olds in this world with male-pattern baldness, and I honestly don’t look that young anymore.
She studied my license.
“Ohhhh,” she said, “from the Big Apple!”
“Ummm… no. You couldn’t pay me to live there, really.”
She looked at me strange, but then continued studying my license. And studied it. And studied it. I seemed like she had it for a couple minutes, but really she had it for at least 45 seconds which is a long time to look at an ID just to find a birth date, expiration and see if the picture looks like the person handing it to you.
She handed it back to me and walked away, returning a minute later with my drink. I thank her. She extends a hand to me. “Hi, I’m Virginia.”
I shake her hand in the most formal manner I can muster. “Hi, I’m birra.”
No I didn’t introduce myself as birra, I’m not that crazy.
“So,” she begins, “do you live around here?”
The thought crosses my mind to answer very sarcastically since she just had my license, but ok, maybe I moved and she’s feeling it out…
“No, just here for work.” I reply.
“Ah. So, where do you live?”
You… just… had… my driver’s license! Are you kidding?
“In New York… Buffalo area.”
“Oh, I’m not sure I know where that is,” she says, “what is New York City like anyway?”
“Buffalo is about as far away from New York City as you can get and still be in New York State. In fact, I could drive to Chicago in about as much time as it would take me to drive into Manhattan.”
“Oh really?” she is obviously lost by this concept. “So why are you here?”
“What do you do?”
“Ohhhh… well, I’m originally from Kentucky.”
This revelation doesn’t surprise me in the least. Seriously.
“How long have you been in Chicago?” I asked.
“Oh, about 9 years or so. I moved to Decatur for about 4 years, now I’m in Chicago… about 9 years.”
So 13 years away from Kentucky and she still sounds like she lives there? And she doesn’t seem to be that old. So she must have moved when she was fairly young.
“You really haven’t lost your accent in that time.” I commented.
“Oh, you should have heard it before I moved!” she said while giggling.
It’s a good thing I hadn’t. Seriously. My brain might have melted.
I am always amazed by just how much difference crossing a state line actually makes… Illinois seems like such a… normal place. But, she grew up just over the border in Kentucky... and... this… is what we get.
You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can never take the trailer park out of the girl.
Ha ha I don't think I'll ever get tired of hearing this story...What the hell?!?
Sounds like you met one of the retarded whelps from here in real life o.O
At least she didn't get your drinks wrong...
I have a pretty good ear and can usually understand what people are saying. But in WV, I seriously have to strain to hear what the hell some people are talking about. TD's right though.
The flight is uneventful and we make a successful landing in Tulsa around 10:20PM. Only 25 minutes before the connecting flight to San Diego is scheduled to depart. We’ll be on the ground for at least 20 minutes for fuel…
There was a woman on the flight who apparently got so ill she had to exit in Tulsa. She walked out of the plane on her own, and didn’t look to be in bad shape. I figured if someone was ill enough to want to stay in Tulsa when they had no plans to be there, a gurney would be required.
Other than that, it was a typical flight.
I call Southwest customer service again to reschedule my flight to the next morning. They confirm that tonight’s flight to San Diego will be released on time, not waiting for any connecting passengers… I contemplate for a moment if they were lying before, are really that bad at math, or just unbelievably overly optimistic.
I call the hotel to re-cancel my room – they were understanding and cooperative. Incredibly so. Such a relief when the night is destined to be so long. I reschedule my rental, make a couple more “this is what is going on” calls, and then it’s time to take off again.
We land in Phoenix shortly after midnight. As I step into the jetway, the night air feels surprisingly cold. Warmer than it was in Buffalo, but it send a chill through me. The kind of chill that just makes your body scream, “Give me a bed and some heavy blankets and let me hibernate until spring.”
Right now, hibernation would be a wonderful thing.
In the terminal, everyone who had exited the plane was swarming the airline agents at the nearest gate podium. I already made my ticket change over the phone, all I need is a boarding pass printed so I don’t have to check-in in the morning. I find a gate agent further away where no one is swarming.
People soon follow my lead.
I explain my situation to the woman at the desk. Another passenger steps near me and a different agent helps him.
The airline is going to reschedule everyone, and give a hotel voucher for the night. Or, what is left of it. I look at my phone, it is now almost 12:30AM. My next flight is at 6:00AM. I consider how long it will take to sort all this, get a hotel shuttle, get to the hotel fighting a crowd of all the other passengers who will no doubt need the same shuttle and check-in at the same hotel…
It became worse than I expected.
The other gate agent processed the other passenger’s ticket change and hotel voucher within minutes. Mine was still looking at her terminal screen with a furrowed brow and clacking at the keyboard while making a lot of “hmmm” sounds.
Apparently, being proactive with Southwest is confusing. The fact that I called in my own ticket change and had it all set to go created an unsolvable puzzle for her.
The other agent processed another passenger.
It’s now 12:40.
The other agent has another passenger almost done, she finally turns to ask what to do. The other agent tells her exactly what keystrokes to make… boarding passes spit out of the printer.
Yes, sometimes it is ok to say, “Wait… I’m not sure what needs to be done. Can you help me?”
I get my hotel voucher and head down through the airport to go find the hotel shuttle.
I’m beat. I didn’t sleep on the flights. I had an aisle seat, and the passenger at the window had to pee no less than six times in the 5 hours of flying. I’m exhausted; ready to sleep right where I am.
I find the courtesy phones to call the hotel shuttle. The hotel says it just left and will be there in 20 minutes. I think, how far away is this hotel?
It’s now 12:55. If I’m not in a bed in 10 minutes I’m going to kill someone.
I step out to the curbside pickup area. There are at least 25 other people waiting for the hotel shuttle.
25 people in one van?
I stand and wait for a bit, and ask some other passengers standing there if they want to split a cab. No takers. So I wander off to the far side of the terminal to go get a cab.
There is an attendant at the taxi station. I step up to him and he mumbles something completely unintelligible at me.
“Excuse me?” I ask, hoping he can repeat it in English.
“(something unintelligible)… a cab?”
“Yes,” I respond, “I need a cab.”
“Where are you going?” was my best interpretation of what he asked next.
“Clarion hotel.” I responded. He nods at me like I just told him I was going to the funky shaped moon of Mars that looks like the Death Star.
He picks up his two-way radio and calls for a cab.
A cab pulls up on the other side of the stop. The driver calls out, “You need cab?”
I look at the attendant. He is shaking his head at me.
“Is he not a cab?”
He shakes his head. “Not airport cab!”
“But is he a cab?”
“Not airport cab!”
“Will he take me where I want to go?”
“Yes, but not airport cab!”
“What is the difference to me?”
“Him not airport cab!”
So I got in the cab. The driver and the attendant started cursing at each other in some other language. I think I heard a few F-Bombs thrown, but I’m a little rusty on my Urdu.
The cab driver asks me where I’m going.
“Clarion Hotel, please.”
“(something unintelligible) ..Clariton, right?”
“Oh… where is that?”
“How the hell should I know? I just landed here!”
I open a browser on my cell phone as he dials his to ask his boss where the hotel is. Meanwhile he drives 2 laps around the airport instead of exiting and going… somewhere. Or sitting still so the meter doesn’t rack up as much mileage.
Love my phone. I actually got point-to-point driving directions for him. I don’t think I should have paid a thing for that cab ride – especially since once we arrived at the hotel, a shuttle was unloading passengers that I had been standing with.
*note to the disaffected youth: If you’re really lost on the path of life and think all is meaningless, do me a favor and consider being a cabbie for a career. This country is seriously lacking English speaking cab drivers. You can then write out receipts like “Fair 3350 febury 7 08 ur my fav pasanger lol!!!1!!*
There were about eleven people standing in line at the front desk waiting to check in for a room, and one haggard, sweaty, obese guy trying to check all of them in.
It’s finally my turn. I get my room card, set my wakeup call for 4:30AM and wander to my room.
I settle in briefly. Get my clothes ready for the next day, and take a quick shower.
I look at the clock.
I collapse into bed for the most restless two-hours of sleep in my life…
My flight was supposed to have taken off thirty minutes ago. I’m sitting in the terminal near gate 15 waiting. The plane coming in is coming from Chicago, where it is snowing today.
The snow-fall has all planes grounded. My plane hasn’t even taken off yet.
Chicago can’t handle snow. You would think by now they would be able to. They’ve had airports for a few years now; decades even. They’re no stranger to snow. Why does the snow cause such chaos there?
An announcement goes over the public address system in the Buffalo Airport:
“The airport is closing due to the freezing rain creating icy conditions on the runways. No flights will be able to take off and no flights will be allowed to land.”
I just shake my head. It started as one of those days. It’s just going to get worse from here.
I step up to the counter at the gate and ask the agent if the flight has left Midway yet.
“No,” she replies, “Chicago can’t get anything in or out either. We’re seeing what we can do, we have some other planes coming in, but now they’re being diverted because of the ice. The planes can’t brake properly out there, it’s too dangerous. They’ll update us in about an hour as to where it stands.”
I thank her, and walk back to my seat.
I make my phone calls.
Here is where I am. Here is where it stands. Can I make it to San Diego for the 7AM meeting tomorrow? I don’t know yet…
This is just a connection flight – Buffalo to Phoenix. I know if I can at least get off the ground here and get to Phoenix I can make it by tomorrow morning.
It’s 5:45. I’m speaking with an airline attendant that just sat next to me.
“I’m supposed to be flying the Baltimore-Nashville-Vegas route, but my plane just got diverted to Cleveland. But they said it’s supposed to be taking back off to come here shortly…”
Vegas? Hmmm… I can do Vegas.
No, not to drink and gamble, but I know I can get a flight to San Diego from there in the morning. It’s an option.
It’s 6:15. No word yet on if they’re opening the airport back up to incoming flights, but some airlines are starting to board their planes to get them ready.
My plane still hasn’t left Chicago. One passenger said he was told it was going to Chicago and got diverted to Indianapolis. It still has to drop passengers off in Chicago.
It’s not looking good.
It’s 6:30, the posted delayed time for my flight to be taking off at. They have since removed all expected times. They have cancelled the flight to Midway.
I begin to call and cancel my reservations. I know if I do get out tonight, at this point making my connection would be impossible.
I step back up to the gate desk to ask what their plan is. Before I even get a chance to, a flight from Baltimore comes into the gate. It was a different flight coming in from Midway that was diverted. It was supposed to go back to Midway, but they had already cancelled that flight.
The gate agents scramble. Furiously they make phone calls. They turn this plane into my plane. They announce they will get it off the ground at 7:10.
They start reviewing connections in Phoenix.
“Passengers going to San Diego – they’re going to hold that flight at the gate for you. You WILL make your connection.”
I called bullshit.
No way they can take a two and a half hour delay and make this connection happen. They will be holding that flight for a half hour, assuming no further delays.
What are the odds?
It’s 7:10. We’re still standing in line waiting to board the plane.
It’s 7:30. No one has moved.
The gate agent announces this is an older plane and used only running between Chicago and Buffalo. It doesn’t have the fuel capacity to make it to Phoenix so we will be stopping in Tulsa to refuel.
So there’s another 30 minutes of travel time.
And it’s now 7:45.
We start boarding. I know I’m not going to make my flight to San Diego, but they are still insisting I will.
I call Southwest customer service to get their take on it as we start making our way down the jetway.
No one has been allowed onto the plane yet. They’re making everyone stand on the jetway, waiting in sub-freezing temperatures, while the pilot stands in front of us on his cell phone. Now what?
They have another plane coming in from Orlando that is bigger and can make the cross country flight. He wants to switch planes. The flight from Orlando will be here in 20 minutes. At this point, that time difference and him holding us up to check… it’s a wash. Stop for fuel dude.
It’s 8:00. I’m still holding for customer service, sitting in my seat on the plane waiting for everyone to load on.
I get an agent on the phone finally and she confirms they are holding the flight to San Diego for connections from my flight. I start calling back on my reservations to un-cancel them.
But now it’s 8:15. We’re still sitting at the gate. They’re getting the last passengers settled. It’s 8:30, the de-icers are still working on the plane.
It’s around 8:45. We’re finally taking off. Two and a half hours to Tulsa, then two and a half hours to Phoenix. I’m still thinking, with confidence, there is no way I’m getting that flight to San Diego….
Trip for this week cancelled.
No Oklahoma for me.
This isn't a huge disappointment. It will give me time to try and get together with engineers in Cali.
And in the meantime, work on the new house! YAY!
I've been to Oklahoma once and frankly It was OK! lol!
It didn't hurt that it was a Symposium at OSU in Stillwater, so there was plenty of night life available, plus numerous industry vendors plying me with dinners, drinks etc!
Aww poor Birra. YAY for getting together with engineers in Cali and working on the new house!
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