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home, just barely

December 28, 2010

Much love to all who are traveling or have been traveling on the eastern seaboard since Christmas.  I feel you.

Our flight was supposed to leave Charlotte at 8:30pm yesterday, and go directly to Denver.  Yay direct flights.  Though Charlotte got a lot of snow on Christmas (by Charlotte standards), it seemed that things were cleared up two days later, and we didn’t anticipate more than minor systemic delays because of the holiday crush and the echoes of the disaster further north.  Leaving the house, everything was fine and on time.

Little did we know that our flight was a continuation of a flight originating in Newark.  Joy.  Once we found this out, we got a bit concerned, but an agent on the phone assured us that the plane was in the air and on its way south.  Bullet dodged!  We were picking up what had to be the only plane leaving Newark!  Cue cautious optimism.  Shortly after expressing said cautious optimism, our flight comes down with Creeping Delay Syndrome.  Primary symptoms include a gradual postponement of the departure time at intervals of 15-60 minutes, and a slew of contradictory information from gate agents, phone agents, messages from the airline, and online flight tracking data.  Wheeeeeee!

A few hours later, our flight’s case of Creeping Delay Syndrome has progressed, and the patient is pronounced dead.  The gate clears, or at least its entire population immediately runs across the hall to the special services desk to get rebooked.  Best case scenario is sometime the following day, as we have a bad habit of traveling on the day’s last flight to Denver.  I get on the phone because I don’t play the waiting-in-line-with-a-whole-cancelled-flight game unless I have to, or at least I stand in line while on the phone, and race to see which route gets me talking to a human faster (usually the phone, FYI).  I get through the menus and make it to being on hold, and the line moves one person, when our flight suddenly makes a miraculous recovery.  Hallelujah, it’s a miracle, the patient was resuscitated, and we have a new plane coming our way!

…from JFK.

Yeah.  Because that’s so much easier to get out of than Newark.  At this point I decide I hate my life.

Even though our flight is un-cancelled, its case of Creeping Delay Syndrome continues to progress, and a few times edges towards terminal once more.  We’ve already missed our chance at taking the last bus home from the Denver airport once we arrive, and had long since lined up a ride, but at this point our ride starts to ask how long we’d be stranded at DIA if she didn’t pick us up after all (answer: at least 4 hours, assuming an optimistic arrival time).  We start to hunt for other rides, and meet with extreme unenthusiasm all around (“Hi!  I’ve missed you, looking forward to seeing you!  How about we meet at DIA at 2:30am tomorrow morning to catch up?”).  Desperation provides all manner of inspiration, and the partner’s announcement of our predicament to the general gate area manages to land us a ride to my house once (if) we arrive.  There’s camaraderie to be had in shared suffering.

About three hours after our scheduled departure, we receive word that our plane has lifted off the ground at JFK, and flight tracking websites report the same.  The little plane-shaped icon even moves southward by a few pixels!  Holy shit, it’s really happening.  Creeping Delay Syndrome eases, or at least they stop updating our estimated departure time (officially our flight was delayed to 12:10am, but we didn’t push back from the gate until 12:40, and continued to sit on the tarmac for a goodly while after that).

The partner begins singing: “Never thought I’d be on a plane, it’s a big flying metal thang…”  Link is to the original song, which refers to a boat, but hey.  We’re loopy by now.

So, after we actually get on it, our flight is largely uneventful, though one of the un-events is unfortunately that they don’t do a snack service, and none of us have eaten in hours and hours, since we were afraid to leave the gate lest our flight be cancelled or, heaven forbid, actually depart.  We touch down at 2am mountain standard time, manage to get a shuttle to the remote parking and find our saviors’ car by 3am, and finally open my front door at 4am.  Which, of course, is 6am eastern, which, of course, is what we’re operating on.

But we made it.  I’m actually back in Colorado, sitting quite comfortably (sleepily) on my very own couch.  Yes!

Best of luck to the rest of you suckers who are flying anywhere remotely near the eastern seaboard.

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