Monday, May 11, 2009

MisAdventures in Air Travel

I am not what most people would call a Road Warrior, but I do my fair share of travel for both business and pleasure.  I have gotten used to the "airport shuffle" - pack bags, find parking spot, grab shuttle, check bags, navigate security, find gate, board plane, fly, de-plane and start the whole shuffle over again trying to get your luggage, rental car and find the hotel that is tucked away in the middle of nowhere. I have learned that you can't really be in a hurry or your are going to drive yourself crazy.  Learning how to kill hours in an airport has become one of my special skills in life!

This morning I worked from home because I had a midafternoon flight to catch. The 'talky-talky bug guy" (nice pest control man but geez - he likes to talk your ear off!) came by and we somehow got on the topic of travel.  He made an offhand comment about "travel is fun, when it all goes right".  I should have pushed him in the pool for making that comment!

I realized on the way to the airport that I forgot to pack my pj's.  No big deal, I can improvise or - gasp - go shopping.  When I got to the terminal, I tried to get in the shortest line to check in, when I heard a voice call out over the counter "If you are flying to Charlotte and you have a connecting flight, please get in this line over here."  Apparently, there were Air Traffic Control tower issues in Charlotte causing  flight delays.  When I checked in I was assured that even though my first flight was delayed, I was fine because my connecting flight was also delayed so I had plenty of time to make my connection.

So I wandered off to the gates to play the waiting game.  First it was delayed, 40 minutes, then it was a little over an hour, next it was 2 hours late leaving.  When they announced the last delay, all connecting passengers where asked to check in.  While we were standing in line, they made an announcement.  "This plane IS leaving at 6:18 with or without you".  Basically, if we hadn't been helped yet, we had a choice, get on the plane and take our chances in Charlotte or stay behind and try to get on some other flight.  

I was trying to make up my mind when it was my turn at the counter.  The very nice, but frazzled agent was trying to figure out where to send me.  While she was looking up my options, the other agent came out and said "we will start boarding in 4 minutes".  She turned around and ran smack dab into the pilot, who delivered the news - nope, we had another hour on "ground hold". 

Unfortunately, my only chance at a connecting flight was booked full tonight.  I could try to fly to Charlotte and take my chances or I could go home, sleep in my own bed, and try again in the morning.  I decided that I preferred my own pillows over the potential of using my laptop case as a pillow on the floor of a crowded airport terminal.  

I have to get up at the b-crack of dawn to catch a flight, but I should get to Wilmington before the activity start!  Oh, and I need to grab those pj and throw them in my suitcase!


NV said...

Well, at least you got to sleep in your own bed instead of continuing the fight. And now you'll be armed with PJs! :-)

sewwhat? said...

What's your talky-talky bug guy's name? That sounds like mine!

I remember one night going to the airport in a thunderstorm (it was actually a tornado). I prayed to God not to let me on a flight that had to fly through bad weather. He answered my prayer by making my flight leave 5 hours late! I got to LA at 2 in the morning--that was really fun!