Thursday, November 19, 2009


Originally uploaded by daveterry.
I love taking vacations but I hate getting there, especially when it means taking an airplane. They are so unreliable these days.

Today's experience illustrates the point.

We left for a trip to Hawaii today but have yet to arrive at our destination. Due to a "computer glitch" the east coast planes were backed up for hours. There were 150 planes on the tarmac in Atlanta trying to get off the ground.

Our trip includes two legs, one from Atlanta to Houston, the other from Houston to Hawaii. After we boarded a small plane of 60 passengers and the door closed, the pilot said:

"As you may have heard all flights on the east coast are filing their flight plans manually. We have no idea how long this will take. We are on the list but the list includes 149 other planes."

As the time ticked by it was apparent that we'd miss the connecting flight in Houston. Eventually we got off the ground an hour and 45 minutes late.

We missed our connecting flight.

Once off the plane, I waited in line, walked up to the counter, explained my dilemma and the guy said:

"I can get you to LA but no guarantee you'll get a flight out from there. I can get you back to Atlanta but no flights tonight there either. Here's a discount coupon for a hotel, come back tomorrow."

But, but, what about companion airlines? I see lots of other things with wings on them out by the gates. Can I fly on one of those?


Can you upgrade me?

Nope. This is an FAA issue and not caused by Continental Airlines.

How about getting me on standby somewhere?

Nope. No other flights to Hawaii today.

So courtesy of the FAA, but not paid by the FAA, we are spending a night in a lovely Houston motel by the freeway. In retrospect I guess we could have flown back to Atlanta but that's an awful short vacation.

Okay, let's make the best of it then.

The motel picked us up from the airport. We checked in and then we walked to the nearest McDs for their new mushroom/swiss 1/3 pounder (dude, that's a lot of meat), fries, and coffee. I also, picked up three cookies for dessert. I've got to be honest on this one, we sort of splurged. We went way beyond our budget. But this was comfort food.

With my comfort food in hand, I negotiated the narrow rows between the tables. A guy of about 300 lbs wearing a sock cap and baggy pants approached. He had a duffel bag slung over his shoulder. He looked down at me and said:

"Get out of my !@#$ way."

Sure thing. Not a problem. Right away sir.

Hey, I didn't want to cause a scene in this foreign town. I didn't know what he was packin' in that duffel bag. I ain't going to argue with him. Besides, maybe he had a bad flight too?

I took my little sandwich and chocolate chip cookies to the corner and chewed quietly.

The scientific theory I like best is that the rings of Saturn are composed entirely of lost airline luggage. - Mark Russell