December 28.2, 2007: Travel Update

Nothing ever goes as planned.  My flight out of Houston was delayed by half an hour.  I checked at the gate and they were confident that I would be able to connect to my flight from Atlanta without a problem.  But even when boarding in Houston we had to leave ten minutes later than the delay simply because the locals were unable to manage finding their seats in an orderly fashion.  The whole thing was so bad that the captain came over the public address system and asked people to get out of the aisle and to do nothing but find a seat as we were waiting for them and that we were going to be late getting to Atlanta because of it.

We didn’t get to disembark the plane in Atlanta until 10:50 Eastern Time – the same time that I was scheduled to already be pulling away from the gate a full concourse away.  We had arrived at a low “C” gate and my departure was from “D-2”.  So there was no way that that was going to be happening.

I asked at the gate if my flight to Newark was delayed or if I had missed it.  The woman at the gate said that the flight had been canceled and instructed me to report in to customer service.  So I trudged down to C-16 where customer service was located and discovered that mine was not the only flight canceled and that I had arrived quite late to the party.

It took over two hours to get to the front of the line.  Most everyone had been grounded because of the weather and people were already beginning to camp out all over the airport.  Everything had been canceled by this point and no one was flying anywhere tonight.

Just as I got to the front of the line two incredibly drunk guys in their twenties pushed ahead of the line that was, by the point, likely three hours long behind me and tried to get service.  I wasn’t about to let the hundreds of people standing behind me wait for these two yahoos who had been walking up and down the airport the whole time that we were in line catcalling the women in the airport and yelling at those of us in line for being whiners and wanting the airlines to do something for us.  So I called them on it and made AirTran send them away.  They weren’t exactly happy.  They threatened to attack me right there.  Verbally.  Actually threatened me in the airport.  With hundreds of witnesses including the AirTran staff.

But then again, we tried to get security to respond for half an hour and no one ever came.  The guys remained a problem and the airport never did anything about them and just let them be a danger to everyone and a total nuisance besides.  All of this effort of “increased security” and when something actually happens in the airport and we have a security problem there is no one to be found anywhere.  What a joke.  And in the nation’s busiest airport no less.

AirTran had no way to get me home to Newark until next week.  My only other options, being as far back in line as I was, was to fly to White Plains in a couple of days (how White Plains would help I have no idea) or to wait for Newark to become available.  But luckily I had been scheming in line for two hours and had a plan.  I had already heard that Newark wasn’t an option and since my flight was grounded because of an AirTran mistake and not because of the weather I had a lot of flexibility.  So I offered to take the next flight that they had to Rochester, New York instead.

AirTran was very grateful that I had a real solution to the problem and immediately set me up with a flight, tomorrow, to Rochester leaving a 2:53 in the afternoon and arriving just minutes before 5:00 pm.  They also set me up in the Renaissance Concourse hotel which is still on airport property making tonight much easier to deal with.  I will need to check out just in time to go check in for my flight.  Perfect.

I took the hotel shuttle over to the Renaissance and got checked in.  On the way over I rode in the shuttle with a girl who was flying to Newark but is currently living in Rochester while going to RIT for school.  What a coincidence.  Small world.  Two RIT students meeting on an Atlanta shuttle while neither was traveling to or from Rochester.

The hotel was great.  I got checked in and had to sign in to the office as I have been on call already for two hours and have been getting pages too.  So I got right to work.

I didn’t get much sleep.  First of all it was almost two when I got to the hotel and was checked in.  Secondly all  I have had to eat all day was a sandwich at noon.  No breakfast, a tiny lunch and no dinner.  So that kept me awake somewhat.  And then work and I just wasn’t tired.  I listened to Bill Bryson’s “Neither Here Nor There” for a while and finally fell asleep around four.

Dad called around five thirty to see if I needed picked up then or in the afternoon as I had been vague in my emails.  Then at six and six thirty some insane alarm in the hotel room when off.  And then at eight thirty I was simultaneously paged and had four consecutive fire alarms go off in the hotel making sleep no longer an option at all.  So back to work I went.

So that is my evening in a nutshell.  Boy am I glad that I have the phone chargers, a change of clothes, a book to read and my iPod with me!

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