I made it to and from Michigan.
It was a nightmare of epic proportions getting home to see my family. Success can be attributed to a few turns of good luck (seriously).
The PNW at the time of my departure was under a blanket (more like 4 down comforters) of snow. The area was crippled. Flights were delayed, cancelled and rebooked (after hours on the phone- on hold- waiting for the re accommodation that would eventually be delayed and then again cancelled).
The madness of trying to get a new flight was really seated in the phone situation. Getting through just wasn’t happening. I would call- and the voice recording would say “We are unable to take your call-
Over and over again-
sometimes a man’s voice-
other times a woman’s.
Sometimes an apologetic tone- “We’re sorry…”
Every time infuriating.
I know, I know it is futile to freak about such things- and I kept my cool for as long as I could.
I thought about driving to the airport to talk to a human. That didn’t work. Zero visability and slick roads made THIS MICHIGAN girl turn a- round.
It was bad.
After 500 calls and 5 rebooked flights I finally had one that I thought would go.
Aaron was gonna have to come and get me. My sweet, sweet boyfriend.
The problem with this itinerary was that Seattle was just as bad off in this winter-wonder land as Portland. My strategy was to get to the larger airport- more possibilities etc. I was nervous about the fact that I would have to spend the day in Seattle with my Detroit flight departing in the evening (almost certain not to go as things get icier after the sun goes down).
The Portland Airport was a mess. 8 hour lines, people screaming- sad, lost souls.
I had thankfully printed my boarding pass.
Though my flight had been cancelled in the 38 minutes it took for my pal Ricky and I to get his car out of the snow (THANK GOD FOR RICK!) and down the road to the airport- because I had printed a boarding pass (remember this fellow travelers) I was allowed to go through security and have my flight re accommodated at the gate.
Lucky break #1.
While the poor sad mass of stranded people were standing in their 8 hour lines I made my way through security-
And in 30 seconds.
Some guy (trying to get home to Phoenix) and I shared a moment of disbelief/ excitement…. both of us blown away by the lack of line- really the absolute non-existence of line.
We two lucky saps made our way quietly toward our gates.
I was rebooked on a 6pm flight and set on a 12:00 pm standby fight to get to Seattle.
The level of camaraderie among the passengers on the other side of the gate was amazing- everyone sharing stories of how they got to the airport and how the hell they planned and hoped to get to where they needed to be for Christmas.
Every single standby passenger got a seat that day on the 12:00 flight.
When the plane took off the entire cabin began to cheer and laugh and clap.
I get to Seattle not knowing if I will have a chance to leave (the possibility of finding flights to Detroit or Traverse City= slim to none, already full)- and find the Northwest concourse. I stand in a line which is two people deep upon my arrival.
The gentleman reviews my itinerary and I ask about any other flights available.
He announces that there is a Minneapolis flight with the ultimate destination of Traverse City.
Lucky break #2.
I of course freak out. He lets me know that the time to make the Traverse City flight is slim- there is a good chance I wont make it and there are no other flights out of Minneapolis that night, or even the next day to either Traverse City or Detroit.
I decided to go for it.
If I got stuck in Minneapolis my chances of getting home were still better than sitting in Seattle. And Aaron has a pal in Minneapolis (I like Ryno -woulda been fine).
Minneapolis knows snow, and cold, and ice.
The flight was literally boarding as I arrived at the gate.
I found my seat. The flight didn’t lift for another hour and a half. Each minute of delay cut into the time I had to make my next connection.
I decided to just trust that things were going to be fine. An adventure.
Shrug it off.
And I did.
When the plane finally was really in the air- another cabin full of people started clapping and cheering.
Turns out- as our friendly captain explained- that this flight was never supposed to happen. The plane and the crew had been working to fly troops home and was to be ferried -well, somewhere- not sure where-
but!!! instead Northwest chose to employ it and them to get our sorry butts home.
By the time we landed in Minneapolis I knew I wasn’t going to make the Traverse City connection. I called Aaron to let him know and he told me that the Traverse City flight had been delayed.
I looked at a flight attendant and she reassured me that the T.C. flight knew we had been delayed and that they were probably holding for me – for a bit.
So- I stand up ready to go. I wait for the doors to be opened.
We all wait for the doors to be opened.
We wait for 20 minutes for the damn doors to be opened.
Turns out they just didn’t have anybody available to push the button- ya know to load up the walkway thing and get it to the door.
I finally get off the danged plane and flag down one of those carts and this guy hauls ass through the nearly deserted airport.
He dumps me off at my empty gate. I walk up to the window and see my plane. It is still on the ground!
But the doors are closed and there is no one there to give a shit.
I start to walk away when a woman arrives and I yell (in a nice way, desperate- but nice)-
“No, no, no- please, please, please- that is my plane!!!!! Can you just open the doors? Please?”
“Sorry- the doors are already closed. I tried to wait for you but it was too long…”
“But…that’s my plane….”
The gate agent was nice but firm- nothing she could do. So I watched my plane take off as she searched for the next flight.
Nothing to Traverse City (tonight or tomorrow).
Nothing to Detroit (same thing).
I almost whisper in assumed futility “what about Grand Rapids”.
“Well”, says the gate agent…. “7 am.”
She and I laughed!
She got me a room!
And I- in a state of deep relief made my way to the shuttle headed for the Holiday Inn.
Two and a half Guinness later I crashed.
Early morning. The flight is gonna go. We are on the tarmac getting de-iced. The captain comes over the speaker to announce that the plane’s engine needs a jump.
An hour and half later and several seriously jarring plane shakes- the plane
FALSE ALARM! NO MORE DELAYS!
No- You don’t have to sleep in a corner covered by your coat on a weird mat (there was a lot of this- come to think of it where did they get the mats)!!!!!
*So- that is the story.
*It ends happily.
Michigan weather was scary too.
This held up my boyfriend a bit.
But he made it.
We made it.
It was a lovely if hard fought for- Holiday.