Friday, June 25, 2004
Yes I'm home. Finally. Let me tell you - the trip back was about the worse I've ever had. I've traveled a lot in my life, I'm not an air head and I'm not a lightening rod for trouble. But during this trip I've felt that and more.
Tuesday night was very late. Mom and I sat at the kitchen table talking and drinking coffee as is our tradition on my last night home. I finally went to bed around 3:00am. Got up at 7:00 to finish packing and gather everything up. Sister arrived around 10:00 and off we go to Chicago. Imagine our surprise when we realized that neither one of us really knew how to get to Midway. Once we figured it out I94 turned out to be a flippin' parking lot. I called the airline and moved to the 4:22 flight. No problems.
Get to Midway and go to check in. Shit. Where's my drivers license? I know I had it. I checked 3x. Well, it's gone now. No picture IDs. Let me just say, it's pretty damn difficult to get on to a plane without ID. It can be done. And I have mixed feelings about that. I really wanted, no needed is a better word, to get on that plane. The ticket counter lady made arrangements for me to go thru "extra" security and they gave me my boarding pass. I didn't mind. You all know how I feel about security. I have no problem with that - hell I deserved it. I go to the "special security" line. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed. I didn't go through anything special - it was just like going through security at Tampa. The only difference is that the guy running the line was an asshole.
Anyway - plane due to take off at 4:22. Finally started boarding at 5:30. We taxi. We taxi. We taxi. They bring us back to the terminal. Seems Atlanta is running behind due to weather (there's a surprise) so they are letting us off for an hour to get something to eat &/or drink. Finally at 6:30 we push off again and actually get in the air around 7:00pm.
Land in Atlanta and find my connection. Due to take off at 10:45, but they pushed it out until 11:30. At 11:30 they tell us 12:30. We have to wait for a flight crew. 12:30 still waiting. 1:00 flight crew arrives to cheers and applause. We board the plane. We taxi. We taxi. We taxi. We return to terminal. Seems the pilots have exceeded the 16 hours they are allowed to fly. Calling in new pilots. 2:00 new pilots arrive. 2:05 security takes away one of the pilots. Not sure what happened, all I heard was something about "illegal". Now they tell us they will get us on the first flight in the morning.
No One Is Happy. We were all sitting around, waiting for the next days boarding passes and bitching. I felt a bit pissed off myself, until I heard a guy saying he was trying to get to Daytona - his son had been hit by a car and he needed to get to the hospital. Airline doing nothing to help. No rental cars available (I checked).
Their idea of first flight out for me was 1:00 in the afternoon on Thursday. So I grabbed a blanket, found a section of 4 seats, and using my laptop as a pillow curled up for a couple of hours sleep. Woke up around 7:00am and went hunting for coffee. Did I mention I had checked my baggage? Yeah - I was feeling real pretty about now. I checked with customer service and they moved me to the 9:00am flight with several of my new best friends. We boarded, the plane taxis and WE TAKE OFF. Cheers and applause renders the air. It was twice as loud when we landed.
I get home and slept for 16 hours. Now I'm 2 days behind but just so happy to be home.
The airline? Air Tran.
They gave us all a free round trip ticket. I already have 2 I won't be using. It'll take an act of Congress and a miracle of God for me to get on one of their planes again.
I was going to go home in September, but think I'll wait and drive home over the Thanksgiving holiday. No more flying if I can help it, at least for a while.