Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The not so friendly skies

During the first few times I flew, things went smooth. I expected flying to always go like that.

Sadly, I found out that wasn’t the case. If you recall from yesterday’s blog, I flew to Seattle in June. My next trip was in November to Louisville.

Should be an easy go, eh? A simple flight from Fort Smith to Memphis, a short layover and then on to Louisville.

Not so fast, oh bald one, I soon discovered. I was set to fly out Sunday morning on Northwest. Early that morning, I got a call saying the flight was cancelled due to maintenance issues.

Yeah, right. Now if the plane actually had issues, I wouldn’t want to be flying on it. I figured they just didn’t have enough passengers. Anyway, I was rescheduled on an American flight at 5 p.m. with a layover in Dallas and then on to Memphis.

I would get there much later, but still no biggie, right? Uh, wrong. We start to board the plane and are ordered back to where we just came from. Trouble with this plane! Egads.

We wait and wait. I start worrying about my connection. I am semi-reassured that if the plane takes off within the next hour, I’ll get my connection.

Finally, they let us back on and we set sail to DFW. Surprisingly, it only takes 30 minutes to get there. I’m not sure, but I believe the pilot might have exceeded the speed limit, if there is a speed limit.

At DFW, I catch the little speed tram, or whatever it is called, and zoom to my gate, barely making it on time. Or so I thought, the flight is delayed. I can see my precious beauty sleep fading away.

To mercifully end this part, we finally get to Louisville and I check into the hotel at about midnight CST, which just so happens to be 1 a.m. EST. I have to be up in, hmm, five hours?

So I spend my three days in Louisville. On Wednesday, I get to the airport way too early for my afternoon flight. After killing hours, I head down to the gate. Within a few minutes, I see a lot of anxious fliers attempting to get to Rochester. Whoo, I thought, glad that isn’t me.

Almost time to board when I notice my flight is delayed 30 minutes. No biggie, still plenty of time. A little later, I notice the flight is kicked back another 15 more minutes. I start to worry about my connecting flight out of Memphis. No prob! I am assured by the counter person.

I breathe a sigh of relief and head to the toitey. As I return to my gate, there is a line stretching out of sight. What’s up, I ask the last person. Big storm in Memphis. Flight is delayed for another hour.

I do the math. It isn’t good. There is no way I can get my flight out of Memphis, which happens to be the last flight to Fort Smith that night! But I have to start my new job the next day!

The lines split as another person appears. Sorry, she tells me. You’re outta luck. She didn’t actually tell me that, but that’s how I took it. I picture myself hanging out in an airport all night, not my ideal sleeping arrangements.

After some haggling, she agrees to let me have a hotel room. No food, just a room. The hotel is right next to the airport and is below Hotel 6 standards. But I do get out the next morning and arrive home smoothly.

My next trip is in January, again leaving out of the Fort on Sunday at 11ish. I woke up that morning and discover the fog is thicker than Oprah’s chub rolls. This isn’t good, I decide. That thought is confirmed once I get to the airport. Everything is backed up.

During the weeks leading up to my flight, I seriously considered driving to Louisville instead of flying. It would take some 12 hours so I decided to go ahead and fly.

Finally, some two hours after my flight is scheduled to leave, they announce my flight will be boarding soon. I check my connection with the counter person. I had missed my original flight and all the other flights were full. She sends me over to the American counter.

The helpful attendant gets on her computer and decides she CAN help me. Cool, I thought, until she told me I would have to go from Fort Smith to Dallas to Denver to Louisville and get in well after midnight.

The flight is delayed so I happen to notice another attendant. I explain my situation and ask if there is some other way to get to Louisville without touring the country. She gets on the same computer and discovers an opening on a later flight direct from Dallas to Louisville.

I wind up getting to Louisville after midnight. What should have taken five hours, takes 14. So remember the 12 hour drive? That would have beaten what it took to fly.

I get to my hotel and they don’t have a reservation. But after much begging, they let me have a room for the night with assurances that it will be taken care of in the morning.

By the way, after spending almost three weeks in Louisville, which I will discuss in a future blog, my flight home went as planned. Miracles apparently do happen.


At April 22, 2008 at 9:26 PM , Blogger Chuck said...

Thanks for the note, Craig.

Thanks, too, for doing the legwork and getting this set up.

I'll try to participate as often as I can come up with something I feel would be of interest.

Best wishes,


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