So remember in the last post when I told you that Melanie and I were going to Chicago today?
Well. FUNNY STORY.
This afternoon I was pulling into the parking garage at the Birmingham airport when Linda from Tyndale called and said they were getting alert messages that the flight from Chicago to Birmingham – the one that would eventually take me to Chicago – had been cancelled. I wasn’t overly alarmed because I had updated all my contact info with United just this morning and hadn’t received an email about flight changes or anything like that, but I told Linda I’d check just as soon as I got in the airport and let them know the news.
When I got to the United counter there were two very angry-looking people right in front of me, and I thought, OH. I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS IS GOING TO END WELL. So I told the lady behind the counter that I needed to check on my flight to Chicago, and I had barely finished my sentence when she said, “Yeah. About that. Not gonna happen. We canceled it this morning about 10 o’clock.”
As an aside, I would just like to interject what would have been a super-helpful gesture on the part of the United travel alert system: SENDING OUT AN EMAIL WITH A NOTIFICATION OF THE CANCELED FLIGHT.
Even still, I know how tricky flight schedules get when there are storms, so I said, “Well, could you just put me on the next flight?”
“Sure,” the woman replied. “It leaves tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock, goes through Charlotte, and will get you to Chicago around 10:50.”
Considering that I have a meeting in the morning at 8, that was not my favorite option.
The next ten minutes were a flurry of texts and phone calls and brainstorms and possible alternate plans. I had just about decided that my best option was to go home and then fly out in the morning, but on a whim I walked down to the Southwest counter and said, “Hey. Do y’all have a way to get me to Chicago tonight?”
They could not have been nicer. The non-stop from Birmingham to Chicago was full, but they could fly me to Tampa, then to Chicago, and I would be there by 9:25. That was our best option, so I got my ticket, rushed through security (the flight was scheduled to leave in about 25 minutes), and ran (okay. I didn’t exactly run. but I did walk really fast.) to the gate so that I could pick up my boarding pass. Just a few minutes later they started pre-boarding.
And then we waited.
And we waited.
And we waited.
And then we found out that our plane had a tire that needed to be replaced.
For some reason I have never thought about the fact that planes get flats.
Finally – a little over an hour later – we boarded the plane. But by that point I knew that I was going to be too late to make my connection in Tampa, so I had to get switched to a later flight from Tampa to Chicago. The Southwest people were so helpful that I can’t even complain about it; besides, planes don’t like storms, and there were storms all over the country today.
Oh! This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I was so delighted by this sign next to the play area in the Birmingham airport.
It might as well say, “HAVE FUN SITTING, KIDS.”
We got to Tampa about an hour before the final leg of my flight, and I was tickled to death that I might be in Chicago by 9. But then I looked at one of those departure board thingies and saw that the second flight was delayed until 11:20. And that is why I am now typing this blog post from the comfort of Gate C40 at the Tampa International Airport.
(By the way, Tampa, you do have a very lovely airport.)
(And I appreciate the little study carrells that also serve as charging stations.)
(I don’t think I spelled “carrells” correctly, but I’m too lazy to check so I’m just going to go with what I have.)
Right now we’re scheduled to leave at 11:05, so FINGERS CROSSED that I get to Chicago tonight / tomorrow morning. Apparently the plane that is taking us to Chicago is on its final approach, so I have big hopes for that plane and also its tires. Not to mention its engines and whatnot.
Hope y’all have a great Friday!
p.s. I hope this post doesn’t sound whiny. I am so grateful that I get to even go to Chicago. And, you know, write books.
p.p.s. Air travel is almost always humbling, isn’t it? :-)
p.p.s. Here are five things I’m grateful for right now: I have a window seat, Hazel barks like a beagle and it makes me laugh, I get to see Melanie tomorrow, my husband is so supportive of the writing stuff, and Alex will have something funny to tell me when I get home. Because he always does.
p.p.p.s. I feel better now. :-)