Last week my husband and I took a trip to the East coast. We were looking forward to this trip because we had never been there and we were ready for a break from the daily grind.
We flew out of Austin on the same Monday the cold front blew in.
Our plane was late in leaving because of bad weather in Atlanta - and that was the first foreshadowing of things to come.
We finally arrived in Atlanta about the same time everyone else did. We had to wait on the tarmac for 45 minutes and wait our turn to ease up to the terminal. Periodically the captain came on the PA system to update our position inline for crossing the next runway. Hearing the large jets take off so near our much smaller plane was a little unnerving.
We finally made it to the terminal but we weren’t concerned we had a two-hour layover before our next flight. Some people weren’t so lucky. I heard one woman say - as she was rushing to get off the plane- that she had 10 minutes to catch her next flight. I’m guessing she didn’t make it.
We finally got off the plane and this is where our true adventure began.
We checked the flight screen to see the status of our connecting flight. It read CANCELED in big red flashing letters. So we set off to the designated gate to determine if that was a correct report. Two concourses over and the last gate in that terminal later, we learned that yes in deed it had been canceled. We were instructed to go about six gates back to find out our alternate travel options.
The agent at Gate D-24 was pleasant and friendly. She said the flight was canceled due to weather, but in return the airline had reserved a room for us at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel, gave us food vouchers and tickets for the next flight- the only catch was it was at 8:29 p.m. Tuesday. They were the only airline to fly into Atlantic City and that was their only flight in.
So the next question - what about our luggage? We were sent to the luggage service area in the baggage claim department two more concourses over. There we learned that it would be a four to five hour wait to get our luggage. But I asked why can’t they just get it because it just came off a plane that is not going anywhere, it should still be grouped in the area where the canceled flight was supposed to be, but no that reasoning didn’t work in airlines terms. The agent, who I instantly liked because she made the woman ahead of us get off her cell phone to conduct business, had an answer for our every option and question. She definitely knew her job.
She offered us a bag of complimentary toiletries - toothbrush, paste, razor, shaving cream, deodorant and a T-shirt that was two sizes too small.
At the hotel, we convinced the clerk to let us stay in the room past the noon check out. In the room, which was really comfy, I called the hotel in Atlantic City to let them know we were stranded in Atlanta, but would be there on Tuesday. We ended up calling the company we booked the trip with to make sure our reservation was secure. In the end we received a refund for thee first night we were supposed to be in Atlantic City, but weren’t.
The next morning we took our time getting dressed back into our dirty clothes.
We left the hotel a little after noon, went back to the airport, where we had a late but leisurely lunch, bought new reading material, walked around, shopped and watched planes and people.
The people watching will be a subject of a separate blog.
At the first window where we stopped, we saw a maintenance man walking on top of a plane a few minutes after hearing a radio transmission asking for someone to check out the plane because it may have been struck by lightning. A little later we saw a small plane being towed in. And at a different window we watched as the airport fire truck with lights and sirens activated headed out to a call somewhere on the grounds. Made me kind of wonder if an alternate mode of travel was in store.
But we persevered.
It finally came time to board plane, but there was a problem - no plane. So we waited.
During this time I realized I had been in the airport too long - I, a mere out-of-town visitor, was giving accurate descriptive directions to other travelers.
Finally we were able to board the plane. As we waited to step into the plane I looked into the cockpit window and saw a woman pilot. I turned to Gary and assured him in my most confident tone that we were definitely going to make it to Atlantic City this time because there was a woman behind the wheel. And I knew from experience that when a woman is running late she knows how to make up for lost time.
Relief - we were finally in the air. A short time later the female pilot’s voice came over the PA and announced they were going to try shorten the flight time some. I smiled and nudged Gary.
We finally arrived at the airport in Atlantic City - about an hour late. It was virtually deserted- the police and security were leaving as we walked through the airport to the baggage claim area. Inside there were three car rental agents and two airport luggage handlers. Outside were three taxis and a shuttle bus.
Oh yeah, our luggage was there as promised.
Finally around 12:24 a.m. Wednesday we arrived at Caesars-Atlantic City. We checked in, unloaded our luggage in our room and then went exploring. It was the quietest casino I had ever been in. We had a late dinner/early breakfast, walked on the boardwalk for the first time, smelled the Atlantic sea air, played the slot machines and went to bed.
We had finally- as the airlines like to say- reached our final destination. We were ready for a good vacation and to explore unchartered territory for us - and it was starting - 25 hours late.
The return trip was also an adventure, but that will be the next blog.
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