What… AGAIN?!? Drama in Denver, 7/21

We will never fly late in the day again. And we will never fly United Express again, either. Sheesh. It’s like the airplanes know we’re comin.’

“Uh-oh, Hogan’s here. Let’s not fly into JFK until tomorrow, kay?” — “Ah-ha! There they come again. Let’s over-book their flight so that they’ll have to sit in a sweltering, PARKED airplane for over 45 minutes.”

Yes, we sat in a parked airplane in Spokane, Washington, for over 45 minutes.

After the JFK fiasco, my father told us that the best time to fly was early in the morning, when there isn’t bad weather or technical difficulties. However, we had already booked our flights to Spokane, Washington, and our flight back would be in the afternoon. We prayed for the best.

We arrived at the airport several hours ahead of time, ate some snacks, and waited very patiently. The weather was clear and perfect. What a relief.

About half an hour before we were supposed to board, I overheard that the plane was running a little late, but would arrive at about 3:10 pm, the time we were *supposed* to depart. I think that was when I started getting nervous. Not again?!?

At least it came on time, for being late and all. We boarded about ten minutes later, after the crew had switched over. I opened the book I was reading and tried to distract myself (I dislike when the plane first ascends).The plane absorbed most of my concentration, though I was suffering from the overwhelming heat of the plane. Why wasn’t there any air conditioning? And they were keeping the door open. I fanned myself and kept reading.

I refocused on the airplane when I heard a lady behind me take the Lord’s name in vain. We still were sitting there on the tarmac. I looked up and heard the stewardess calling someone’s name. A guard or somebody was standing with her. A man left his seat and shuffled toward the front of the plane. TERRORISTS! I thought (irrational, yes), even as a little boy whispered to his mom, “Is that a terrorist?!”

Um, no, it wasn’t a terrorist. United Express Airlines had over-booked our flight, and the plane was waaaay too heavy. They asked a couple more people if they would mind waiting for another flight. We waited and waited and waited. I was ready to jump off myself and book a different flight, but we were anxious to just get home. So we sat back and continued to wait.

Finally we took off. I was so tense at this point that I was just waiting for the plane to crash. They took three people and three little groups of luggage off the plane. How much of a difference was that? I breathed when we’d reached 10,000 feet.

Our flight from Denver to San Antonio would be departing at approximately 7:15 pm. My father looked at us and prepared us for the possibility that we might miss it. When we arrived, we learned that it had left six minutes ahead of schedule. We were stranded in Denver.

My father left to book us another flight. I sat down and held back tears. I was tired, I was hungry, and I wanted to be home. My mother followed him and returned saying that United Airlines had given us food and hotel vouchers for the night. We would fly out of Denver tomorrow morning.

I almost cried, it was such a relief. We trudged down to the shuttle stops and waited for ours, Crystal Inn.

Marriott, Fairview, Comfort, Holiday, La Quinta, Ramada, Hampton. You name it. We sat there for half an hour, watching them pass by. Crystal Inn was becoming more and more like a fairytale. Did the airport hate us this much? What did we ever do to hurt them?!?

Finally someone told us that we needed to call Crystal Inn so that they’d come. Thanks, people. Couldn’t you have told us before we’d sat here for half an hour? The shuttle would arrive in approximately fifteen minutes.

Well, the shuttle DID arrive, a beacon of hope against the setting sun and the mockingly happy travellers. Our driver was swedish or norwegian, or something.

“Eet vill take us FEEFTeen MEEnutes to get to zee hotel. Zee restaurant eez o-pen from six to nine-o-cluck.”

Well, at least we were on our way. I watched Denver blur past our windows. Finally, just as the sun was disappearing, Crystal Inn appeared. My eyes bulged. “BEDS. MANY MANY BEDS. SHOWERS. FOOD. SLEEP.”

We dumped our things in our room and went instantly to the restaurant, where we ate very happily. The televisions were blaring death and destruction, both in the dining room and in the hotel room my sister and I shared. Couldn’t we have something lighthearted and funny, please? We flicked through the channels. Nope. Only the Golden Girls. I shrugged inside. Oh well. After a nice hot shower, I fell into bed.

I had nightmares the whole night of big, burly Italian hotel managers who stole credit cards. Don’t ask.

Everything went well the next morning, though we had to suffer through “Denise’s Denver Dirt” on the radio while we sat in the shuttle (Not MY dirt–someone call this woman anything other than Denise!)

The end. Let’s pray this doesn’t happen again. People do say that bad things come in three’s…

Stranded in New York: The 48-Hour Nightmare

Travelling by plane has never been a major problem with us. Fairly smooth flying, no delays, no emergency landings, etc. Thank God. So when we arrived at JFK International Airport last Thursday afternoon, I was happily dreaming that in just a few short hours, I’d be home in my beloved Texas.

We found our gate and settled in for a 2-hour wait. About an hour before we were to depart, I took a motion sickness pill. I probably should’ve cut that pill in half… I’ll explain later.

Mere minutes before we were supposed to board, someone announced over the loud speakers that our flight would be delayed until 6:30 pm, as our plane hadn’t arrived yet. Weather conditions were unstable. Great. Another two hours. We were mildly distressed, but settled into our seats as comfortably as we could. Barely half an hour passed before the screen at our gate was showing that departure time had been bumped to 7:30. 7:30?!? That meant we wouldn’t reach San Antonio until almost midnight. A long line began to form at the desk. My mom and I jumped on it and stood there over half an hour before we could gain any information.

The news wasn’t good. A young man a couple of people ahead of us spread the word that we would be able to fly out of JFK, but we wouldn’t be able to leave Memphis until 9:18 the next morning. We would have to sleep in the airport all night. This wasn’t good, since I wouldn’t be able to get any SCD-legal food for hours. 

By the time it was our turn at the desk, a 9:18 am departure from Memphis had been switched to a 1:44 pm departure. Now my dad was really panicking. I’d be almost 24 hours without legal foods, and the snacks I’d packed were halfway gone, because I’d gotten so hungry waiting. Dad was instructed to seek information at Gate 11, waaaay down the corridor. He and Mom rushed over there before a line formed while my sister and I guarded the bags.

They were gone almost an hour. Erica (my sister) and I were getting fidgety. Plus, the automatic updates for our flight hadn’t come over the loudspeakers in almost 45 minutes. It was 6:45. I began to worry that our gate had been switched. I walked across the corridor to the view screens which list the departing flights. Sure enough, our flight had been switched. I knew we would have to board soon, so I struck out to find my parents. I found Dad, and he told me we’d be staying at my aunt’s house until Saturday morning.

What a relief. I felt like crying. I wouldn’t have to worry about where I was going to get food. In God’s sovereignty, there was a health food store in the very village my aunt lived, and even more wonderful was the fact that I’d given my aunt my extra yogurt instead of trying to get it through security.

The motion sickness pill kicked in soon after we returned to my aunt’s house. I was exhausted and fell asleep watching tv. All the next day, I felt woozy when I stood and walked around. It’s an awful feeling. On top of that, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I should be on my way home. The whole day Friday I felt like I was travelling… only I wasn’t.

Finally, Saturday morning we were off. I didn’t take the motion sickness pill. We reached Atlanta ahead of schedule and got to our gate. On this connecting flight, our seats were scattered all over the place, so Dad went to negotiate. What he discovered instead was that our gate had been changed–to one allll the way across the terminal. We trudged across, Dad got our tickets, and we finally boarded for our last flight home. We arrived home at approximately 12:30 pm, almost 48 hours since the whole thing began.

The end.