40 thousand feet, headed towards Miami from PHL
Everyone has had that dream, you know, the one where you are being pursued by a tiger, bear, Soviet agent, HIllary Clinton (fill in your own bogeyman) and it seems like your legs are stuck in quicksand. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to make any forward progress even though you know that your very existence depends on your ability to get away….. I am having that sort of a day. Knowing that I had a flight this evening, I was ready to leave work a few minutes early. I had changed out of my Nomex and I had all of the material ready to hand the operation of our oil refinery to the guy that would work the night shift. He was on time. I passed on the necessary information (thoroughly – I AM a professional) and I was out the door, through the gate and flying home in our little Focus.
Just after leaving the refinery, my cell phone rang – it was someone at American Airlines. My flight to Miami was delayed, and I was likely to miss my connection to Rio. Could I make a US Air flight at 6:15, instead? The time was about 5:20. Perhaps, I said. I’ll do my best.
I got home without breaking too many traffic laws, where my son was waiting to drive me to the airport. We had to take his car (the Focus has a manual transmission). Of course, we had to stop for gasoline. Soon we were driving up I-95, where we hit the usual traffic just north of the Delaware state line. I had another call from the nice lady at American, who asked about my progress. I told her that I would likely arrive at the US Air terminal at 6:00. She told me to use the self-service kiosk to check in and that it was likely that I could make it. The traffic thinned out a bit and we made better progress than I expected. After arriving, I walked right up to a kiosk, entered my info, and found out that you could not do a self-service check-in less than 30 minutes before a flight. I looked at the long line for the next gate agent and realized that there was not enough time.
I walk back to American’s terminal, where I check in and get some encouraging information from the gate agent. The plane was scheduled to leave at 8:12, and it was likely that I could make my connection in Miami, as the plane was leaving for Rio from the very next gate (a good thing – Miami is not a convenient airport), I stopped by the Admiral’s Club and spoke with the helpful agent that I had worked with on the phone, who suggested that I upgrade to first class to stand a better chance of getting out of the plane quickly (and since I had not yet eaten dinner, I agreed). I went to the gate and waited for the plane, making a few phone calls as I waited.
We started boarding the plane at 8pm – no way were we leaving at 8:12. It’s okay. The gate agent had researched a backup plan. I could take a later flight to Sao Paulo and an early morning flight to Rio – I have taken that flight many times (last month). I will arrive at eleven instead of 8:30, but I’ll arrive on Friday instead of Saturday. I was assured that there was plenty of space on the alternative flight, so there were no real worries. I likely won’t get my exit row seat, though. If you’re as tall as me, that’s important.
We pulled away from the gate at about 8:45. The captain announced that we had a projected arrival time in Miami of 11:00. Yes! As we taxied out to the runway, we found that there were about 20 planes waiting to leave in front of us. Quicksand again. PHL does that all of the time. There were some clouds that looked like thunderstorms, and although we saw no lightning, the airport added to our delay time by restricting departures. We took off about a half-hour later. As we were climbing, the captain announced that our projected arrival time was not 11:20, ten minutes after the scheduled departure of my flight to Rio, but ten minutes before the departure of the later flight to Sao Paulo.
The attendant just brought me one of those awesome hot chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmmmm. I really like upgrades.
So, at this point, it looks like I’ve missed my flight. I can take the later one and arrive just a few hours late. It’s not the end of the world, I suppose. I am also feeling a little better. The pollen season is in full swing in Delaware, and I have been miserable ever since I arrived back from St. Croix on Sunday. There’s no pollen at 40 thousand feet, and none in Rio, either. You take the good with the bad.
I arrived last night in Miami too late to even take the flight to Sao Paulo. With no place to go, I was given a coupon for a “distressed passenger rate” of $100 at the Hyatt. Since it was after eleven, there weren’t any shuttles, so I had to take a cab. I guess I upset the driver, but I just could not leave him the $5 bill he offered as change to the $30 that I gave him. A five minute taxi ride to an airport hotel costs $25 here in Miami. Sorry, pal, even in America, most folks don’t tip when they think that they’re getting robbed.
Or maybe I was just still upset, I don’t know. The room at the Hyatt was nice, although the noon check out time sucks. I woke up around 8, had breakfast, and took a nap until about noon. I’m in the lobby now, using the free wifi with only nine hours to go until tonight’s flight to Rio. I spoke by phone with American, who were able to get me an exit row seat (important, I’m tall) and the direct flight to Rio (unavailable last night).
When you think about it, I’ve been running all over the place for the last few weeks with no time at all to catch my breath. Maybe a day of enforced idleness in a hotel lobby will be good for me.
Can’t add photos for some reason – likely to do with the nature of the hotel’s internet connection. I’ll add some this weekend.