Thursday, September 22, 2011

Staying Patient Through 10 Hours of Delays

Well, my business trip to Orlando this week was quite the flying adventure.  Traveling by plane is still novel and fun to me, but perhaps that's because I can count the number of times I've flown on one hand ...

My last trip involved four flights, no delays, fast security checks, small lines, good weather, and easy-to-navigate airports.  I wondered, why does everyone complain about flying!?

A very grey morning in Iowa proved otherwise. I don't remember the last time I got up at 4am, but golly I sure hope I don't have to do it often.  The airport suggested arriving 90 minutes early, but I saw no reason to show up more than 60 minutes early for a 6:40am flight.

I got through security quickly, though I was "randomly selected" for a patdown (probably because of all of the electronics I was toting along).  A very nice TSA lady quickly and professionally did her routine.

I was a little surprised at where their hands must fly – under the bra line and over the pubic mound – but it was less invasive than a routine physical by a doctor.  I know people make a fuss about TSA, but I didn’t have any qualms with it.  At any rate, those workers aren't the ones making policy decisions. 

Once I got to the boarding area, it was announced that my flight was overbooked and they needed a volunteer to switch flights. I thought I’d be a good citizen and see if I could help.  They didn’t have any way of getting me to Orlando the same day so they had to keep me.
5 minutes later, they announced that to solve the overbooking dilemna, the person to check in last would be bumped from the flight. Guess whose name was called?
Yep, there’s more than one reason to show up early to the airport.
As we looked for alternative flights, there were widespread overbooking problems.  They could get me to Detroit the same evening but not into Orlando until Monday afternoon. That would leave me with only one morning at the trade show before I had to fly back - pretty pointless.
A quick call to my boss determined I could take the Detroit flight and fly back a day later than planned on Wednesday.
Once that was sorted, it turned out that our plane had to be grounded because of mechanical issues.  With the delay and the threat of the flight being canceled altogether, a lot of people jumped ship. 
In all that shuffling, I quite amazingly got my seat back.  However, I still had the problem of having to stay overnight in Atlanta.
So we waited for a new plane to come up from Georgia just to take us back down there.  Our original flight was supposed to leave at 6:40am - we left at 2pm.  The flight itself went smoothly and I got to see the Atlanta skyline as we came in.
Once in Atlanta, I thought it prudent to confirm there was no way I could get to Orlando before securing my hotel voucher.  Crazily enough, a seat opened up and I could keep my original schedule - I just had to wait 3 hours.
Sensibily, I secured dinner (the food choices, as well as the Atlanta airport, are unremarkable), appeased myself with a Starbucks Salted Carmel Hot Chocolate (addictive), and purchased the new Anthony Bourdain book "Medium Raw" (fantastic!).
There really is no reason to pay $3.50 for a small hot chocolate but I'll definitely be making this at home!

I ended up getting into Orlando at 11pm - 10 hours after I was supposed to.  I paid $40 to have a cab drop me off at my hotel (gouge!) and crashed.
Throughout it all, I stayed in good humor, until lack of sleep made me hunger for a bed.  
Found this pic online, but this is from the hotel I actually stayed at
Lessons learned:
  • Show up to the airport 2 hours early
  • Listen to your mother - always pack extra clothes
  • Don't forgot your cell phone charger
  • Make sure to have a good book (or be willing to purchase one)  

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