Monday, January 31, 2011

Just Trying to Get Home

Flying home, no problem. Back to the mild south. Sounds easy, right? Well it would have been with the exception of one small issue - to get from Richmond to Charleston, the airline decided I needed to connect through New York city. Now granted I was never good in geography and all those states above the Mason-Dixon line tend to run together. However, even I was aware that the north eastern corridor of the United States was dealing with a winter storm. But who was I? - just the lowly traveler.

However, when I went to check in on-line, just above my flight information, in red, it warned "winter storm advisory" and the second line explained how the airline had relaxed it policies and was waiving its change fee, "Houston, we have a problem."

I called and learned that the flights were being cancelled in New York. Perhaps I needed to change my itinerary (if I wanted to get home anytime soon). The new itinerary took me through Charlotte, my normal connection. And, better yet, I was upgraded to first class. Life was good - for now.

Then the email came saying my new flight was delayed but, no worries, I would still make my connection. It was snowing and sleeting by the time I got to airport in Richmond. When I checked my luggage, the lady at the counter looked concerned as she printed my ticket. "Perhaps we should reroute you through Philadelphia." "But that's going north, not south." "Yes, but I fear you are going to miss your connection since this flight continues to be delayed." So much for first class. Once again, I was rerouted north of the Mason- Dixon line, to avoid the snow delays - go figure.

I got to the gate only to learn that my latest flight was also delayed, a concurring theme for the morning. I did finally make it to Philadelphia and made my connection to Charleston. For the first time I was on a plane headed in the right direction - south. The plane was delayed once again in taking off because the two stewards were having trouble counting heads. Were there 78 or 79 passengers on board? Well, now add employee mathematical challenge issues to weather, mechanical, and cancellation as another delay in my getting home.

Someone on the plane asked me what my itinerary was. "The first, second, or third one?" I replied. They gave me a quizzical look. I was headed South, right? I was on the correct plane headed in the correct direction, yes? What if I was not paying attention and instead of boarding the plane at B28 to Charleston and, by mistake, I had boarded the plane at B30 and was on my way to Poughkeepsie, New York, or some such place? Surely not.

I have been known for my imagination getting the best of me. The electronic scanners at the gate would have caught that error - or maybe not? Was I the mystery passenger number 79. Well, I've heard Poughkeepsie is nice this time of year - frigid but nice. I guess we'll find out.

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