Saturday, November 15, 2008

How Nancy saved my life.

Before I write this all out I want to first thank Nancy for my bag of trail mix that she gave me with my flying goodie bag.

Now, sit back while I retell my flying story from yesterday. I flew to Florida to help my mom take care of my dad while he recovers from a pretty nasty surgery. I was pretty stoked to find round trip tickets to Orlando from Scranton for a decent price. My flight was from Scranton to Philly with a two hour layover and then from Philly to Orlando. Easy enough right? That's what I thought.

My flight was due to leave Scranton at 12:45 pm. Tim dropped me off at the gate around 11:10. I gave myself plenty of time to get through security and to find my way to where I was going. Granted, Scranton's airport is small, but I have never been there. I find my gate and there is this nice older gentleman waiting there. I walk up and he says, "You know this flight has been delayed, right?" Uh, no, I didn't know that. The board said the flight was still on time. He said it was delayed until 2 pm. I got nervous here because I knew that my connecting flight was leaving at 3:50. I mentally did the math. Ok, if the plane leaves at 2, I should be in Philly by 3 and I will still be ok. The gentleman, Jim, I think was his name then called USAir to confirm the departure time. When he called the delay was still there, but it was only delayed until 1. Great. No problem. I settled in and did some knitting on Tim's scarf. 1 o'clock came and no one was there yet. No guys at the desk to board us. No plane. Uh oh. 1:15 comes and the USAir guys come and say that Philly is backed up really bad. Our flight was now delayed until 2:02 or 2:48. Long, nervous story short, we left the ground at 2:48. I was sure I was going to miss my connection. The flight was in a small prop plane. SMALL. It only seated 37 passengers. They had let another lady catch this flight because the 2 o'clock flight that was due to be leaving was now pushed back to 5. She boarded...we were all seated and nervous with the size of the plane. Before they close the doors, the guy from the counter came onto the plane and told the lady that she would have to get off the plane because of "weight issues". Uh, hello? How embarrassing is that? And should I be worried that there are weight issues on a plane? The flight was pretty good considering. It was a really smooth takeoff and landing.

Landing. We landed at terminal F in Philadelphia. We landed at 3:40. My flight was due to leave 3:50 from terminal C. I had to take a shuttle bus from F to C. I stopped ever so briefly to see if by chance the Orlando flight was delayed and I would have any chance of catching it. I really didn't think I would. Orlando was pretty much the ONLY flight that was on time. Really? I got off the shuttle at 3:48 (flight leaves at 3:50) and I RUN through the terminal to my gate. I made it. I flashed my boarding pass and got on. I was the last person on.

This should be a happy ending right? I was going to land in Orlando at 6:26 and Andy was going to pick me up and then we were going to drive over and see the last ever night launch of the space shuttle. Oh, please keep reading.

I am on the plane. I am panting because of a hard run through a long terminal. I'm sweating because I had a sweatshirt on. There is a line of about 25 Indian people (all family I'm guessing) trying to figure out their seats. The overhead bins were all full and I wasn't sure where I was stashing my carry on bag. I really didn't want to have to check it and have the chance of losing it. The family must have been at it for a while because the flight attendant had pretty much lost her cool (and she was really cool) and was yelling that they just needed to find a seat and sit. They were trying to push by me back and forth. Whatever. I was tired and glad to have made it on the plane. I scoured the open overhead bins and found out some jerk had thrown their backpack up there when they very well could have put it down by their feet. I squished it over to a side and slammed my carry on up there. I found my way back to my seat. The very last row on the plane and there was a dude in my seat. Come on. I showed him my ticket and he said he had traded with one of the Indian guys so he could be near his family. The poor guy was 6 foot 2 and not happy that the guy had told him that it was an aisle seat he was trading with. So, he scooted over and was now squished between me and another tall, little larger person. Ok...everyone is seated. Doors are closed. We back out of the terminal and taxi to our runway. Ready for lift off. Going to fly. We wait for about 20 minutes. We figure that we are waiting for an ok from the tower. It's all good. Just get us in the air and start serving drinks.

Twenty minutes go by and the pilot comes on and said "Folks, we have a problem with a heat sensor on the outside and we've tried to fix it and can't. We are going to have to turn around and go back to the terminal and have maintenance look at it." Everyone groaned. We all whipped out our cell phones and called and texted our frustrations. So,we turn around and go back and sit for another half hour and finally the pilot comes on and says "Folks, we are going to have to exit this plane and get on another plane in terminal C24". It took about 15 minutes for everyone to grab their bags and unload off the plane. We all poured out into the terminal and went to the next terminal. There was no plane there yet. We all stood around for what felt like another half hour. Some people were smart and went and got shots to drink and food to eat. I was not one of those smart people. I was not going to wander off too far and then miss the flight. Remember that I had thought I would have a two hour layover in Philly and had figured I would get lunch while I waited and instead I was running trying to catch a flight that wasn't really going anywhere. I had not eaten anything all day, except for some of the trail mix that Nancy had made me.

We finally are allowed to board the next plane. From what I gather, it went smoother this time and the very large Indian family was able to find their seats with no problems this time. I guess it was good we had a dry run. We took off from Philly at the very same time we were supposed to be landing in Orlando. I was not going to see the space shuttle. Oh well. I've seen a night launch before. I would survive. Around 7:47 the pilot comes over and says, "Folks,it may be a good thing that our flight was delayed. In about 8 minutes the space shuttle will launch and if you look at about 10 o'clock, you might be able to see it." 7:55 rolls around and we hear, "The space shuttle has launched. Look out your windows and you should be able to see it. There it is. Well, there it goes behind haze. You can't see it anymore.". At this point I was thinking about how in a movie when they show everyone come to one side of a ship, it flips over. Everyone was leaning over, coming across the aisle to look through minuscule fuzzy windows looking for the space shuttle. I was expecting the airplane to flip over. And I was thinking to myself about the pilot, "You shitbag, if we had left when we were supposed to we would have been able to get to the coast in time to see it in real life...don't tell me it was a good thing we were late". I was getting testy at this point.

Thankfully, for as full as our plane was and for as many children who were on board it was a smooth flight. I think the airline gave out free drinks because I saw everyone getting booze and no cash being passed around. I had planned on getting a rum and coke but by the time they got to me I just got a water because I knew if I had a drink I would probably get sick. I'm also thankful that I had downloaded season one of Pushing Daisies for my Ipod. That kept me entertained for a long time. I think I'm most grateful to Nancy though for my little bag of trail mix. I also want to thank Andy and Diana and Sydney, Bailey and Bryson for coming out three hours later than planned and picking me up at the airport.

I had hoped to have a really cool shot of the space shuttle to post in my blog today, but alas, I do not. I do have a picture of what I think is the light off of the wing. I had handed my camera to the nice guy next to me to try and get a shot of the space shuttle, and I think he got the wing. I might post that when I get home.

So now, I'm sitting here glad to have finally made it and hoping that when I fly home on Saturday it will be a smoother run.