Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Travel + Snow = I hope you have a lot of patience!

This past weekend I was reminded why you never connect through Chicago O’Hare airport during winter weather months. Truth be told when I booked my tickets to Houston, I swore I selected the flight that connected through Orlando. That is what I get for multitasking when booking flights. When I realized that I had a connection through Chicago in January, I knew it would be an adventure. When I boarded my fight at Regan National Airport everything went smoothly. The pilot mentioned we would even get into Chicago early. Good sign, I thought and then I wondered if the upgrade to first class for the second leg of my flight was money well spent.

I had a bit of layover in Chicago, so I stopped for dinner. That is when I began to realize that there were big delays for many flights. The delays were getting longer and I was concerned mine too would begin grow. I was already getting into Houston very late and I was not looking forward to it being any later than it had to be. I sat there eating my meal, watching basketball, listening to the banter about delays and checking my flight status on my smart phone. For a good portion of my layover my flight status did not change, then as boarding time drew close, the first delay was announced. As I paid my bill to head to the my gate, the bartender asked me if I wanted another drink in a “to go” cup. A “to go” cup?? Now I have run into “to go” cups for adult beverages in Key West and New Orleans, but an airport? I said no, I was good and closed out the bill. I picked up a bottle of water and made my way to the gate. It was quite a festive scene. People were standing all over the place chatting, joking and having a decent time. Not the scene one expects walking through an airport that has been plagued by delays. That’s odd I thought… where were all the cranky people? That when I noticed quite a few people had a “to go” cup in their hand. As I waited for my flight, I joked with friends on Facebook. I mentioned the “to go” cup and a friend, a native Chicagoan, posted “embrace the “to go” cup.”

A few more delays, a gate change and one more delay, we were able to finally board the flight. Once we were in our seats a new round of the waiting game commenced. We were now waiting for the de-icing equipment to arrive at our plane. This wait could be 45 minutes or longer. Tonight, the pilot
speculated may be longer as there seemed to be a shortage of ground including de-icing personnel. How a major airport can be short-handed with critical ground personnel is mind boggling and a post for another time. However about an hour later the de-icing truck showed up next to our plane (I have never been so happy to see a de-icing truck in my life) and shortly thereafter were being pushed back to make our way to the runway. Two and half hours later we landed in Houston, it was closing in on 3:00 a.m. (well pass my bedtime) but at least I made it to my destination. I hailed a cab, after a fruitless attempt to hail a shuttle to the hotel, and was in for an interesting ride (think “E-Ticket” ride) to my hotel all that stood between me and a comfortable bed was the night shift hotel employee that was half auditor and half mediocre front desk personnel. My hopes were not high for the hotel as the location was under “remodeling” (that is code for your stay will be subpar) but the hotel is known to give out cookies when you check-in and at this point I was looking for one sliver of something positive before I melted in to a puddle of tired, upset mush. At 3:00 a.m., to my delight the cookies were warm and fresh, my room was practical and the bed…. well anything is comfortable when you are exhausted… but this bed was divine.