Recent Splats according to Miz Yank

Well-grounded

Last summer I spent a few days in Atlanta watching my nephew, Baby B, while his parents enjoyed a long weekend away.  I loved the Aunt In Residence experience so much that I made my brother and sister-in-law a standing offer to do it again.  They took me up on it recently and made plans for a long weekend in Montreal. I booked a flight scheduled to leave at four last Thursday afternoon and arrive before six that evening.

Since my brother and his wife weren’t leaving until mid-morning Friday, I figured this would give me some time to transition into my role as scab parent.

Wednesday afternoon’s news brought reports of epic storms headed toward D.C. There was even talk of a “derecho” like the one that brought the area to its knees and revitalized the generator industry last year. The weathermen said the storms would arrive in two phases, one late morning and another late afternoon.

I formulated a plan to squeeze my departure into the window of weather calm.  I dashed out of the office at noon in the hopes of going standby on a 2 p.m. flight.

I usually write long travel narratives, but this time I’m going to mix things up a bit and present the rest of my day in timetable format.

12:26 p.m.: Leave house, chauffeured by housemate (who normally drives like a bit of a Nancy, but shows the occasional flash of Danica Patrick on this trip)

12:43 p.m.: Arrive at DCA, Terminal A. (This is the old part of the airport and it looks untouched by the hand of renovation. Instead of leaving out of Gate 6, I feel like I’m flying out of 1983.) Morning storms have already delayed many flights.

12:46-1:02: Obtain standby boarding pass, breeze through security, and check in at gate. “The flight’s pretty wide open so you should be good,” the counter agent says.

1:03-1:04: Luxuriate in the feeling of smugness that can only come from being prepared. Pause smugness bath to offer 15 seconds of pity for the poor suckers on the 4 p.m. flight that, based on existing delays, will be lucky to get out at all.

2:10 p.m.: Board plane.

2:45 p.m.: Plane pushes away from gate and taxies.

2:49 p.m. Plane stops taxiing.

2:55 p.m.: Pilot informs us earlier delays have caused a backup. We’re in a “holding pen.”  Makes it sound like we all just need to sober up.

3:25 p.m.: Pilot informs us some rerouting is required and he’s awaiting a call with a new plan.

3:58 p.m.- 4:05 p.m.: Pilot announces we’re returning to the gate, de-planing is optional. I, along with most people, de-plane. Flight board in the terminal doesn’t even show the 4 p.m. flight. Summon up a fresh round of pity for those poor four o’clock flyers.

4:27 p.m.: Re-plane.

4:42 p.m.: Pilot informs us he’s not legal.  Shocking, as he looks neither underage nor drunk (or at least not very drunk). Legality in this context depends on time spent “on the clock” and he’s over the limit. Flight is canceled altogether.

4:43 p.m.: Re-deplane. Call AirTran while re-deplaning and snag one of the last seats on the 6:40 p.m. flight. (Must be full of four o’clockers.)

4:52 p.m.: Need boarding pass and AirTran can’t email it to me. Get in line behind 4,256 people, all of whom are vying for the attention of an AirTran gate agent, who, like the cheese, stands alone.

4:53-6:25 p.m.: Stand more or less still while grapevine grows and spreads word that the 4 p.m. flight left at 4:02 p.m. This news comes close to sending me airborne, a feat AirTran could not pull off.

7:30 p.m.: We re-replane for the 6:40 p.m. flight. Receive assignment for window seat in last row of the plane.  This is a misnomer– there is no window.  Wall behind us keeps seatbacks from reclining.  On the upside, bathroom occupancy can be determined just by reaching back and knocking on the wall.

7:54 p.m.: Plane pushes away from gate and taxis.

7:58 p.m.:  Plane stops taxiing.  Pilot informs us that storms are now ripping through the south, resulting in a 90 minute ground hold in Atlanta.

8:07 p.m.: Re-re-deplane en masse to the AirTran gates and descend on the only food stand  like a swarm of ants on a Twinkie crumb. Due to serving stranded passengers all day, only breakfast leftovers and two combination celery/carrot containers remain.

8:18 p.m.: Buy cheese-and-egg croissant that seems to hail from a 7-11, cerca 1979, plus bottled smoothie and a banana.  These extravagances set me back $14.78.

My “Dinner”: Motel 6 fare at Four Seasons prices.

9:10 p.m.: Re-re-re-replane.

9:38 p.m.: Begin to taxi.  Row-mates are two other refugees from the 2 p.m. flight. I offer to buy them drinks if plane actually leaves the ground, so naturally, it does.

11:12 p.m.: Touch down in Atlanta, amid raucous on-board applause.

12:15 a.m.: Arrive at brother and sister-in-law’s house in Atlanta.  I’m bleary-eyed and weary, which just might fool a 13 month-old into thinking I’m his parent.

Comments

  1. You actually outdid YOURSELF this time, which takes talent I didn’t know existed in the universe. (And I am SOO sorry–this is one of the most epic travel stories I’ve ever heard!!)

    • miz yank says:

      I set a very high bar! Apparently, no matter what mode of transport I use, it will take me at least 10 hours to get to Atlanta. Next time I’m gonna rent a llama.

  2. Jessica says:

    Greetings from the refugees! We love the blog! You captured that comically frustrating experience perfectly. Can’t wait to read more 😉

    P.S. Thanks again for the drink! We owe you one 🙂

    • miz yank says:

      Hi, Jessica! Wow, you were so nice to find me! I was thrilled to have your company in my misery. I hope you had a fabulous time in New Orleans!! (Sorry for the delay, just got back from Spain and a blogging hiatus myself!)

Trackbacks

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