Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Delay Delay Delay

Wow. The saga of our flights is long an exciting. Actually, mostly nerve-wracking. I've just walked into my room, waved goodbye to Shawn and his mother, and plugged in the computer.

We must have gotten out of Des Moines before the terror alert, because I don't recall hearing anything about it. Yikes! We got through security just fine, and sat down at our gate in Des Moines. We were supposed to start boarding at 3:05pm, and 3:15 comes and goes without any word. Then they call the other flight that's headed to Chicago up to have a quiet talk. There are whispers that that flight (supposed to leave at 4:30ish) was going to be delayed until 6pm. 3:35pm, our departure time, arrives...there is no plane sitting on the other end of the ramp. 3:45....the plane lands. They unload. They load us, saying we have 16 minutes to board if everyone is to make their connections. We don't make it in 16 minutes. At 4:25 the plane leaps into the skies, and an hour later lands in Chicago.

Our connection is scheduled at 6pm, in another terminal. We have no idea if we're supposed to pick up our luggage to go through customs (on the way down I did U.S. customs in Montreal...weird), but we know that we have half an hour to make it to our next flight. We dash, hoping that our luggage will show up. O'Hare is thick with milling, panicking passengers. It's thunderstorming.

We get to our gate...but rather than the fully loaded plane we expected, we find the plane has been delayed 40 minutes. That's just fine. Our layover can handle that. We settle down. 40 minutes pass...once again the plane has not shown up. After about an hour the attendant gets on the loudspeaker and tells us that the plane we'll be getting on has arrived (it ran into a lot of bad weather coming in to Chicago), and will be unloaded soon. They tell us it will be ten minutes. We've heard this before.

The plane comes into sight around the corner, but suddenly stops about 50ft from the ramp. The attendant tells us that the air traffic control tower has started flashing a white light, which means lightning has been spotted in the area, and no attendants can touch the planes from the ground. The plane stays parked 50ft from the airport gate for nearly an hour.

Finally, we load our Chicago-Toronto flight. We taxi out to the runway. We taxi for a very long time. Then the pilot comes on the intercom. Due to bad weather, air traffic control has grounded all flights. We will sit on the runway until we get the go-ahead. He puts on the entertainment system, and 45 minutes pass. At this point it is 9:15, and we are more than three hours late departing. Our connection is loading in Toronto as we take off from Chicago.

Due to the detouring around bad weather, the flight to Toronto cannot make ideal time. We land in Toronto at 11:30, Toronto time. Our connection left at 9:50. They tell us we have been bumped to the next flight to Halifax--the last one in that night. It has been delayed, and will leave at 12:15am. We rush through customs and to the connections counter, where they tell us it is ludicrous to expect to get on the next flight with only 15 minutes to spare. We offer to go without our luggage. The fellow at the gate won't let us on without our checked luggage.

Our only option, we are told, is to camp out in the airport overnight, check in at 4am, and stand by for the next flights to Halifax. They have booked us for sure on the next available flight--9:05am. I have to open the yarn store at 11am, one hour after we load. It is a two-hour flight, plus another hour to get bags and drive in to Halifax. There is no way I can do that and get to work. And we have no way of contacting Mimi, my boss. Shawn calls his mother to let her know she can go to bed, and we hunker down in front of the check-in counters and sleep in shifts.

At 4:30am, the attendant tells us that they have oversold all the flights to Halifax, and there is no way we could make it on standby. We have to wait for the 9:05am flight. The day dawns sunny and clear, and this flight at least has no more hurdles than a quick gate-change at the last minute. We arrived in Halifax at 12:06pm, and drove straight to the Loop, where Mimi has just opened the store. She didn't get the message Shawn's mother tried to leave for her, because the lady whose answering machine it was off work this morning. Still, she was very kind, and sympathizes, offering her own airline mishaps. "Go home and shower," she says, "get some sleep, and come back at 4:30."

So here I am, nearly 24 hours after we drove out of Pella. That was an adventure I am not keen to repeat.

And now for showering and unpacking. :D

I will be heading down to the Loop between 4 and 4:30, and after that I thinkhopepray I will be selling books at the event. I'll stop at the Moustache just in case, on my way. My shirt is a small Gildan navy one (brought by J.D.) If someone (Rho, I think?) could slip me the shirt, I'd be delighted! I'm sure I'll spot you guys, though I have no idea at the moment exactly what and where my free time is going to be. I will be representing, however, to the extent of my abilities! Whoo!!!


Lesley said...

Elisabeth, I have to say you held up remarkably well during the even for having had such a rough journey.
Get some rest sunshine!

Soo said...

Dang those airlines.

Can't wait to hear about the Harlot's visit!!! As a displaced New Brunswick-er in London I missed the event - but I hope (I'm sure) you gave her a good Atlantic Canada welcome!