I had a great time here in Philadelphia, and felt a small pang of regret as I headed to the airport yesterday and everyone else was headed out on a tour of the city and a group dinner to follow. “That’s okay!” I thought to myself. “I am going HOME! I would much rather be home than be social with people, so that’s fine.” I said my goodbyes and packed up and headed to the airport around 4:00 for my 6:00 flight.
They’re doing construction at the Philadelphia airport. I don’t know what they’re doing, exactly, I just know that I feel more like a rat in a maze than usual, here, winding my way through the various blocked off passageways and passing the “pardon our dust!” signs. But eventually I smuggled all of my contraband through Security (this time, I was pulled aside to be patted down, but my HIGHLY DANGEROUS HAIR LOTION went by unnoticed), but in due time I made it to my gate.
Which was utterly mobbed.
I found a seat; I read my book; I checked my email. I don’t mind waiting. I texted back and forth with Otto a little bit, and then it looked like it was time to board.
Whenever I fly Delta I am regulated to Zone 4, a.k.a. steerage class, which means I have to both get on the plane last and then stick my feet through the hole in the floor and run really fast when it’s time to take off. BUT I DON’T MIND, because I am always cheerful when I am headed home! SO I waited in line forever, and eventually I was allowed to board the plane, and of course although there was no one yet sitting within three rows of my seat, the bin above it was completely full. So I spent some quality time wrestling my suitcase into an available spot, and then I sat down.
I put my purse underneath the seat in front of me. I fastened my seatbelt. I resumed reading my book.
And then the 12-year-old gate attendant walked onto the plane, grabbed the mic, and nervously announced that we’d just been delayed for an hour, and he was terribly sorry, but they were going to need everyone to get off the plane, please. Passengers needing to make tight connections could step up to the podium to discuss rebooking, and everyone else should please just be patient.
I undid my seatbelt. I grabbed my purse. I put my book away. I wrestled my suitcase down. I walked back out to the gate area, which was now inexplicably TWICE as full as it had been before. I texted Otto.
The gate attendant told us he’d update us every fifteen minutes. I went back to my book.
An hour later the pilot came out and told us that we should be hearing “any minute now” and then we’d probably be scheduled for wheels-up in about another hour.
I checked my watch. I’d left for the airport at 4, and it was now 7:30.
Half an hour later, they announced that the flight had officially been canceled, and directed us to go down to the main Delta counters to “make other arrangements.”
Turns out, “make other arrangements” is Deltaspeak for “have an agent blink at you and shrug and say ‘Well we’re really not obligated to do anything extra here because this was a weather issue.'”
Did I mention that the neighboring gate also had a Delta flight headed to Atlanta, scheduled for just 1/2 hour after my flight, and that one WASN’T canceled? Weather delay MY ASS.
The Delta automaton graciously scheduled me on a flight for this morning, but when I asked what I was supposed to do for the night she blinked a few more times and said “I guess you’ll need to find a place to stay.” When I suggested that perhaps the airline was responsible for that, she repeated that they bear no responsibility when it comes to delays due to weather.
It was perfectly clear here in Philly, by the way. And Otto reported the same in Atlanta. In fact, he popped up the weather radar to check; there were a few thunderstorms along the coast, but nothing huge. Again, I say, weather? Hmmmmmm.
I did the logical thing, at that point, which was to take my new boarding pass, snap at my husband on the phone, and go sit down to cry for a while.
Then I tried to call Susan, who I knew was out to dinner, and her phone was off. Fabulous. But! I knew Susan 1) would be coming back to the conference hotel eventually and 2) would probably let me crash in her room. So I walked around until I found my way out of the airport maze and took the shuttle back to the hotel.
I sat in a chair in the lobby and read my book and blew my nose (oh, did I mention about being sick? I’m sick, of course) and waited for everyone to get back. Susan, the world’s greatest friend, rushed in upon their return and patted me and assured me we’d get me all fixed up on her couch (thank goodness for suites, right?) and not to worry.
We got on the elevator. One of the other conference-goers looked at me and said “You look tired.”
I looked at my watch. It was after 10. “Well, I’ve been traveling for six hours,” I said. “Except only between here and the airport.” That wasn’t a real conversation-starter, if you can believe it.
This morning I got up at the asscrack of dawn and took the shuttle back to the airport, and found myself back at the SAME DAMN GATE as yesterday (the one at the end of the concourse, naturally, because I only ever fly out the gate that’s as FAR AWAY AS POSSIBLE), and the monitor says the flight is on time, but I am not exhaling until the plane is in the air. Just sayin’.
These travel arrangements were made for me by the conference organizer, but I have to tell you that chances are EXCELLENT that I will never, ever fly Delta again.
(Of course, chances are also excellent that if I ever make it back to my house, I’ll never step foot out the door again. So.)