December 28, 2004

I'm dreaming of a flight-delay Christmas

So I've learned why tickets are cheaper on Christmas. Sarah and I ended up saving between $100 and $150 (each, that is) to fly on the 25th rather than the 24th or 26th. We were traveling from Columbia, SC (Sarah's home) to Kansas City, KS. The only problem was that we were on different flights through different cities. I had to fly to Atlanta for training (see post below), and then hitched a ride to Columbia. Sarah flew in later from Seattle.

Here is how our itinerary should have looked:
Luke's Flights
Delta Air Lines 6281

Operated by: CHAUTAUQUA AIRLINES
Depart:
8:00am
morning
Columbia, SC
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE)
Arrive: 9:16am
morning
Orlando, FL
Orlando International (MCO)
Depart:
10:05am
morning
Arrive: 11:32am
morning
Atlanta, GA
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson ATL(ATL)
Depart:
1:03pm
afternoon
Arrive: 2:17pm
afternoon
Kansas City, MO
Kansas City International (MCI)
Sarah's Flights
United Airlines 7110

Operated by: UNITED EXPRESS/MESA AIRLINES
Please check in with the operating carrier.
Depart:
7:52am
morning
Columbia, SC
Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE)
Arrive: 9:15am
morning
Chicago, IL
Chicago O'Hare International(ORD)
Depart:
12:15pm
afternoon
Arrive: 1:48pm
afternoon
Kansas City, MO
Kansas City International (MCI)

Please notice my expert booking, putting us no more than 30 minutes apart in departure and arrival, and I even took 3 planes! It was gonna be perfect: her parents drop us off at the same time, my parents pick us up at the same time.

But the airline gods would have things differently.

I find out that my flight out of Columbia has been cancelled... not delayed... cancelled. Getting in line for the Delta counter, I found myself amidst a crowd of distressed mothers, angry fathers, and weepy daughters (I'm sure there were sons around... probably on a GameBoy or something). Turns out that because of all the wintry weather throught the week, many planes were not able to get into Columbia to take people to their destination. And all flights from Indiana east to NYC were unable to land. "But I don't want to go to Indiana or NYC... I just want to take my flight to Orlando to Atlanta to Kansas City... nowhere near those arctic locales." For whatever reason, I was stuck in South Carolina, looking at spending Christmas with my in-laws.

For once, Chicago-O'Hare was no problem to get into. I don't like to fly through there anytime in the winter months because something is bound to go wrong: can't take off because of fog; can't land because of ice; can't move because the engine fell off... stuff like that. But Sarah was gonna get through there no sweat, and she's spending Christmas with her in-laws.

I get up to the front of line after much angst and find that they're able to get me on the same flight Sarah is on into O'Hare with United and then transfer into Kansas City on American Airlines. I would only be getting in 2 hours later than Sarah. No sweat, at least we'd be together when it was all said and done.

After having my checked luggage inspected, my carry-ons inspected, and my own body inspected (fortunately no cavity search this time), I got on the flight to Chicago. Sarah and I were able to have lunch together at Chili's in the airport, and I saw her off on her flight on United, followed by my additional 2 hours in the airport, which was enough time to read Rolling Stone from cover to cover.

When all was said and done, Sarah and I ended up making it to Kansas City without a scratch, and actually got to eat lunch together. We opened presents and had dinner with my family, and it was all well.

I will say that traveling on Christmas Day was a unique experience. You'd think all the people working at the airport and on the planes would be a little bitter that as they helped others get to see their families for Christmas, they were stuck working, apart from their families. But everyone was a bit more cheery, probably because they realized that all the travelers were pretty stressed out about making connections and not losing their luggage, so it was a day for extra courtesy. After all my issues with the commercialization/materistic-nature of the modern-day American Christmas, if it causes us to consider loving others before ourselves – the remebrance of Christ's coming – the ultimate act of love – it's obvious to see that God is still at work in the hearts of men.

Will there be more high-flying hijinx later this week when we return to Seattle on New Year's Eve? Of that you can be sure. Check back here to find out!

No comments: