Love flying, hate airports. Never underestimate the power of the Hokey-Pokey.
Okay, so this is a story about how NOT to travel. I went to the Connecticut Lindy Exchange over the weekend of August 24-26. My first out-of-state exchange! Yay! The exchange was great, met lots of nice people, hung out with Solomon Douglas, lots of dancing and not nearly enough sleep. Yay! The real story is in the getting there and back again...
My first flight was supposed to take off from Atlanta at 0730 Friday morning. I get to the airport in plenty of time (or so I thought), only to find that there's no airplane. Not there. So, I have been switched to another flight, on another airline, in order to make my connection at Washington-Reagan. The flight leaves 10 minutes earlier; the airline is in a completely different terminal. I get to their check-in desks, the line is long, and there appears to be a direct proportion between the length of the line and the scarcity of the counter people. I get to the counter, finally, get checked in, and find that there is no time check in my bag; it would not get on the plane with me. So, I know it barely fits as a carry-on and decide to haul it with me.
I get to the lovely security line, worrying about the bag, since it has all my toiletries in it (I had intended to check it in, remember?), and lo and behold, the bag goes through fine. BUT. Because my flight changed that morning, suddenly, I'm a terrorism suspect and they had to frisk me & wave the wand over me, etc. Yeah. I feel safer now, don't you? By the grace of the airport train system, I got to the plane just in time (last one on!), stuffed the bag in, and tried to settle in.
Fine flight, went over Arlington & the Pentagon, saw the Iwo Jima Statue from the air, landed at Reagan. Reagan has an interesting layout...to get to the next set of gates, you have to go through another security screen. Any set of gates. Fortunately, there was a check-in counter for my airline near, and I could finally check in the now-very-heavy bag. Get through security fine, get on the plane fine, get to sit listening to the loud child behind me who is kicking my seat for the next hour. Gotta love it.
I get to Hartford, my bag has made it (yay!), the rental car is fine, and I'm off to wander around CT. Photos later. Get back to hotel, no problem there, and I clean up and go to the evening's dance. Good band, lots of nice folk in CT. I have to leave around 2200 to pick up Solomon; he's the band leader for Saturday night's dance. He had checked in three items: his personal bag, the bag with the charts for his musicians, and an empty box for sending in his computer for some warranty work. Guess which one showed up? Yep, the box. Fortunately, the other two bags made their appearance in time for rehearsal.
Saturday was full of dancing. The Solomon Douglas Swingtet was excellent, and they had the crowd hopping. People were still talking about the band the next day. It was Lindy bliss. I went to the late night dance, but I think I was too tired to dance very well. I returned to the hotel around 0400 (AM!). I went to the Sunday afternoon dance after checking out of the hotel, and headed for the airport around 1500. I turned in the car, no problem. Checked in to the airline, no problem. They tried to waitlist me for an earlier flight, since I was there so early (didn't want a repeat of the getting there!) but it was full. I board my regularly scheduled flight and we take off.
This is where the real fun begins.
The flight was mostly uneventful, except where the plane took a sharp dip to starboard, causing the flight attendant to assume crash positions...apparently we caught the wash off of another plane 20 miles ahead. Whee! We land in Washington Dulles with no further excitement, around 2030 hrs. My next flight is at 2205.
Around 2145, we are informed that our flight will be delayed because one of our flight attendants is on another flight that won't be landing until 2215-ish. Okay, we can deal with that. The attendant gets there, but the flight is still delayed for a mechanical problem. Apparently they have one of the engines in little pieces and can't figure out what's wrong. By 2300, I'm looking at a crowd of travellers growing rather irate; I figure I better do something, or this could get ugly in a hurry. Fortunately, I'm just sleep-deprived enough to be exceptionally goofy enough to pull it off. So, figure out who might have a sense of humor enough, work on them, get them to pull in others, bring the airline clerk into it, too, and by 0030 (yes, Monday morning, now), they were re-arranging the cones to see if they could mess with the floor waxing guy (who was rather...odd), and making up new uncomplimentary slogans for our airline.
Never underestimate the power of the Hokey-Pokey. Just mentioning it is enough for people to become aware of the silliness of the whole thing. It's hard to be angry around the Hokey-Pokey. That's what it's all about. I only got one round, myself.
Finally, around 0115, "they" decide that the plane is broken for good, and declare the flight cancelled. We all shuffle down to the service desk, and to their credit, the nice clerk was able to get me on a flight on another airline again because all of their flights to Atlanta were full until Monday evening(!). They then proceeded to offer us hotel & cab vouchers, but I figured that if my flight leaves at 0600, I have to be at the desk at 0500, by the time I got the vouchers, found the cabs, and got to the hotel, I'd have to turn around and come right back. So, I opted to (attempt) to sleep in the airport. You can guess how well that worked. WHY do they keep it so dang cold in there?! 0500 rolls around, I check in with the desk, get my seat, and all was well. Board the plane, promptly sleep all the way to Atlanta.
Now, all this time, I had been assured that my bag (remember that?) was being transported with me. I get to baggage claim and wait. It usually takes about 20 minutes. After 45 minutes go by, no bag. No sign of bag. Go to baggage claim, fill out the paperwork.
This is the longest post I have ever written.
Okay, so now I have to get to Emory Hospital; I have to drive Gregg home from chemotherapy. He can drive himself there, but cannot drive home. "No problem", I think, "I can take MARTA from the airport to Decatur and figure it out from there. Get on the North line, transfer to the East line, easy." Nope. I get on the North line, it gets me to the transfer station, I get on the East line. It goes two stops, announces that it is now out of service, everybody off the train. Okay. Next train comes in. It takes me one more stop, announces that this is it's last stop, it's turning around, everybody off the train. Oy. Third train arrives, says it's out of service, nobody board. Finally, the fourth train shows up and actually gets me to Decatur.
Alright, find the nearest bus route...turns out to be the 19, stopping on the corner of Clairmont & North Decatur Road. Closest I can get. Take the bus, get off at the right stop...and walk 2 miles to Emory. It was hot. I was kinda glad I didn't have my bag by that time. It finally showed up a day later...
BUT I MADE IT!!!