Last week, i had another trip to the east coast. As if the forces of meteorology are synched with my frequent flier accounts, there was yet another snow-pacalypse in Washington, DC. What was supposed to be a ‘day trip’ – 6am flight out, 6pm flight home – led to another round of “Escape from an Airport”.
i am 3/3 on the “Trip/Stranded” ratio just for the month of January. This shit is getting seriously old.
Fortunately, my travel mate for the day was a delightful young scientist, AU*. Extraordinarily smart as both a scientist and human, this made the ‘stuck’ times far more bearable.
But it still sucked gangrenous ‘nads.
We made a good travel team as we both worked escape plans. Heavy, wet snow was blanketing the region. AU was booked on 4:00 pm flight to Atlanta**, and was texting me from the plane, which was still at the gate being de-iced. i was hoping to catch the 5:30 pm flight – which was still showing “go”.
When his flight pushed back, the gate agents prepared to board our flight. Anxious travelers gathered near the door, hoping to board soon. But when i got the text from AU “We’re coming back to the gate. Word is canceled”, i walked over to the desk, and leaned casually against it… which would put me at the front of the line when the rebooking dance started.
Sure enough, the airport closed, and that familiar chaos ensued! i was rebooked before AU deplaned, and i snagged coupons from the gate agent to get us nearby accommodations! Score! We went to the bar for dinner (table near an outlet, of course), and relaxed for a couple of hours. i’d been given confirmation numbers for two rooms at a Doubletree hotel near the airport. No rush.
Leaving the warmth of the airport to catch the hotel shuttle, we were a bit shocked to see crowds of people at the bus stops. Word was that traffic on the local highways was gridlocked, and hotel shuttles were stuck. i called the hotel, and was told that the driver had been en route for an hour – and wasn’t near the airport. The hotel? Only 10 miles away.
The taxi line – for non-existent taxis – was four hours long. Rental car option? We weren’t entirely sure we could get through – not knowing the traffic situation. We had to wait. And AU only had on his suit – no coat, hat or gloves. Did i mention that it was snowing hard?
Two hours later, we were finally on board a hotel shuttle, along with other relieved travelers, and headed to a hotel. Seeing dozens of abandoned cars, our shuttle driver navigated dicey roads with steady confidence. Tow trucks were in ditches! This was some serious shit! It took a half hour to go 10 miles, but we made it!
Needless to say, when the gentleman at the hotel desk informed us that they would not be honoring our reservations, as they had no record of it in their system – and had no available rooms – i was a bit stunned. And lost my shit – for the first time since my travel headaches started this month.
daisyfae (loudly): So we’re – what’s the word i’m looking for – “fucked”? Yes, that’s the word! “Up the ass without a courtesy spit” fucked? There are NO rooms for miles, and we couldn’t get there if there were… We’re going to be sleeping on the couches in your lobby. Maybe you can bring blankets and pillows, eh? i’ll try not to stink it up too much…
We went to the bar… Scouted online for other hotels, but there was nothing. Nowhere to go, we scoped some comfy couches in the bar area, and figured we could settle in once the bar closed.
Around 11:30 pm, AU thought to ask about roll away beds. Returning from the front desk, he had good news – they thought that they’d have some no shows, and would probably be able to get us rooms. Relief…
i found myself apologizing to AU for my rant at the front desk. Probably a little embarrassing for him…
daisyfae: That’s probably the worst public outburst i’ve had in a few years. They used to be a helluva lot worse… but it was still pretty bad.
AU: Gaining control or losing your edge?
daisyfae: Great question. i don’t really know… i think it’s mostly because i’m tired. It’s not worth it to yell any more… too much work.
* i’ve written about AU before. He’s a gem…
** For what it’s worth? Your BEST chance to get out of an airport during a weather ‘situation’ is on a bigger plane, generally to a hub city. The airlines can maximize the number of non-stranded passengers this way, and the regional jets are most frequently canceled in such circumstances.