Airplanes and Timetables

>> Monday, June 8, 2009

I think when it comes to airplanes and their timetables, I am in the running for the worst luck on the planet. If I had a mere nickle for every time my plane was delayed by hours, cancelled after hours on the runway, or shut down along with the whole city, I could go to dinner.

But, this is not a big deal to me. Truly, it isn't. I think it is far bigger a deal to all the family members who had to pick me up over the years, never knowing when, or if, my plane would land. (Ok, the one time my flight was cancelled and I was trying to get back to school for finals was a problem. We ended up landing in a different airport, in a different state.... the things I do for final exams.)

Changing planes, though ... that is a different story. My luck with having to at least jog, if not run full speed, through any number of airports has made me vow again and again to always fly nonstop. My plus size posterier does not look good jiggling through the airports at top speed, and one of these days Darling Husband will have a heart attack trying to get to the gate on time. Never again, I have said over and over, especially now that I have a toddler.

Sadly, some places you cannot get to from here without changing planes somewhere. (Who was it who said that on the way to heaven you have to change planes in Chicago?) So, to the best of my ability, I am limiting the airports I will agree to layover and change planes. St. Louis ... ok. Chicago ... never again. Dallas, not on your life. Pittsburgh ... if I must. Boston ... do you still have to go outside to switch terminals?

Reno, Nevada is one of those places you can't get to from here without changing planes someplace. (Well, Donald Trump could, but not me.) So, on my way to Reno last week, Darling Husband, the almost-two-year-old and I boarded a plane late at night, knowing we had the dreaded plane change in Denver with two carry-on bags, a carseat, and an exhausted child who will think it is 11 PM. We shake hands and say, "What will be will be." We have the hotel number to call if we don't make our connection. We already know the rental car will honor our reservation a day late. We have an hour between planes, and our scheduled gates are only 4 apart when we land. And yet ... we know. Something will go on. Something will happen to make us miss the plane, but not before we run from one end of the airport to the other.

Oddly enough, we took off on time. Even more strange, we land on time, even in the rain. (Every where I go, it rains. I think these problems may be connected.) As the plane is making its way to the terminal, I was getting hopeful, but I made a mistake. I actually thought to myself, "Hey, maybe we will make it this time!" Why, oh why do I tempt fate like this?

A few seconds after I had this clearly articulated thought, the plane rolls to a stop. I can SEE the terminal from the window. Then the pilot comes on the speaker and says, "This is as far as we can go for the time being, ladies and gentlemen. The airport has called all the crews inside for safety because of the lightning, so we will be waiting here for some time." DOH! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Then the flight attendant comes on and says that our gate will probably be changing, as will the gates of all connecting flights. Sigh. Of course they will.

Sure enough, by the time we got into the airport, our connecting flight was listed as, "Now Boarding." We didn't even have time to strap the carseat to the luggage cart, so it was the two of us, one carseat, one toddler in a stroller, one folded up luggage cart (and did I mention one giant carseat?) panting through the airport with our love handles wiggling all the way. We made it, but you know things are bad when the airline personnel greet you by name as you approach the gate. This is how it will always be, I'm afraid. Don't change planes with me. In fact, don't fly with me. It is a curse.


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