Saturday, September 23, 2006

a trip of unfortunate events

Coming back from Philadelphia took us 16 hours. We caught the taxi from our hotel at 11 am, Philadelphia time, and we got back around 1 am, Utah time. It was a rather tedious day.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 1:45. We boarded, taxied out onto the runway, and waited there. For more than two and a half hours. There was nothing wrong with the plane or anything; we were just waiting to get flight clearance to take off. The pilot was getting pretty annoyed by it too. He told us, "I don't know what the problem is, and I don't know when we're going to leave. All I know is that Philadelphia does not know how to run an airport."

I was in a middle seat that whole time too, which wasn't very pleasant. The people sitting next to me were both using the center armrests, so my bubble was being encroached upon the entire time. And then the guy on my right was really smelly. He was a nice man, but he emitted a powerful and noxious combination of old-person smell and smoker smell. I was trying to sleep sitting up, but the smell was bothering me too much. So I put my head down on my tray table. That worked for a few minutes, until the army man sitting on my left hit me really hard in the back. It was on accident, but I was afraid I might die from internal bleeding if it happened again. (I was really bruised for a few days after just being hit once.) So I ended up suffering through the old smoker man smell for the rest of the 6 hours on that plane.

There were 95 passengers on our flight who missed their connecting flights. Fortunately, we hadn't missed the last flight to Salt Lake City for the night. While we were waiting for that flight, the judge was talking to his family. They told him that his son-in-law was stuck in LAX, waiting to be allowed to board his flight to Salt Lake City. They hadn't let him board because the Salt Lake City airport was closed due to weather. We were rather surprised when the judge told us this, since they hadn't made any announcements about our flight. The judge said, "Knowing American, they'll inform the pilot that the airport is closed 10 minutes before we're supposed to leave."

Sure enough, after we had boarded and it was time for us to leave, the pilot got on the intercom and said, "I just learned 10 minutes ago that our lift-off time has been moved back to 10:08. That's an hour and forty minutes from now. So, we'll wait here at the gate for the next 30 minutes, and then we'll pull out onto the tarmac in case they bump up our flight time." We did that, but they didn't end up changing our flight time at all. Since we had boarded at 8, we ended up sitting on the ground in that airport for 2 hours before leaving. (As an aside, I thought it was very silly that we all had to turn off our phones for the 1-minute trip out to the tarmac, even though we knew we'd be able to turn them back on again for the next hour of waiting there.)

We arrived in Salt Lake a little before midnight. It was a complete madhouse. Everyone's flights had been bumped back a few hours, and they'd tried to catch up on the lost time by having flights come in as close together as possible. It was busier than the mall at Christmas-time, but much less full of good cheer. For some reason, the Salt Lake airport people decided not to have any of their employees work overtime, so they were functioning on their midnight work schedule. And there were disgruntled passengers swarming around everywhere.

The airport people gave up on sorting the baggage, so they were announcing on the loudspeakers, "Don't pay any attention to the signs over the luggage carousels. Your luggage might be on any one of the carousels. One bag might be one carousel 1, and another might be on carousel 3. You need to check them all." Then, I guess because people were switching which carousels they were watching, the carousels were all completely filled with luggage, and more luggage kept coming down and smashing into that. At the carousel I stationed myself next to, there were three layers of luggage piled up already, with more luggage coming down all the time. It was rather fun to watch and predict which bags or boxes would get the most smashed. It was especially exciting watching suitcases crash down onto the box labelled "human blood." (I think it really did contain blood, since it was labelled as coming from a laboratory and was being sent to the medical center. There were also several other boxes labelled "human tissue" and "human specimens.")

We finally got our bags, but the drama of the day was not yet over. Because of the whole midnight schedule thing, we had to wait 25 minutes before the shuttle for long-term parking showed up. And it had become winter in Utah while we were gone, so we were standing there in a bitterly cold rainstorm without adequate clothing. There were about 60 people waiting for the shuttle, but luckily we managed to fight our way on when it arrived. And then we had to get out of the parking lot, and there was only one cashier working. (Another cashier was sitting in the box right next to her, but she was too busy talking on the phone to actually help any of the 50 cars waiting to get out of the stupid lot.) That's why I didn't get home until 1:00.

So, that was my exciting day of travel. I spent more than ten and a half hours sitting in planes. I could have gone to London in that amount of time. And if I had, they might have given me a snack.


Anonymous said...

That would be annoying. So, yeah, I thought I'd stop by and see your blogs. They're quite interesting, but I'd expect that from you.


Cindy said...

Hey Becky,

I just discovered this unpublished comment in the comment graveyard. So, um, thanks for the compliment like four years ago. And sorry my blogs haven't been so interesting recently.