Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday #34--Day 4 With Dad and Getting Back Home Again

I thought I had this whole end-of-the-trip thing figured out. We would arrive at the rental car return before 7 am, hop the shuttle to the airport, check our bags, grab some breakfast, and still have an hour to wait for our flight to SLC.

Note to anyone reading this: BWI airport on a summer Sunday morning is not a peaceful place.

We had to watch two shuttle buses leave the rental station, packed completely full with travelers, before there was room for us. This should have been my first clue that we were in for trouble.

I've never seen an airport congested like that. So many families with so many suitcases and so many different places to go so early in the morning. It was insane. Even the curbside check-in desks had lines dozens of people long.

We took a gamble (and since we hadn't checked in for our flight before because I was distracted talking to the police--you can read about that situation here) and waited in the Southwest full-service line. Forty-five minutes later we had our C-30 and C-31 boarding passes as we rushed to the next line--security. That line was so unending and unmoving that one couple begged their way to the front after waiting over an hour, showing their tickets and saying, "Our flight leaves in six minutes, can we please go in front of you?" Over and over, people let them through, feeling their pain and hoping that it wouldn't make us miss our flight due to our kindness.

Our flight was scheduled for departure at 9 am, boarding at 8:40, and we didn't even make it into the terminal until 8:45. In an unfamiliar airport and with only 15 minutes till takeoff, I was a little stressed that we'd miss our flight and I wouldn't make my flight to Phoenix, especially after I saw the couple who had begged their way to the front of the line walking dejectedly through the airport on their way back to the ticket desk. Dad was convinced that we had time to grab breakfast and his Pepsi before we boarded, and I may have been impatient with him. (Two hours later and somewhere over Nebraska, I was glad I'd gotten breakfast before we'd left.) Laden with sodas, breakfast sandwiches, carry-on bags, one purse and one fanny pack, we made it to our gate just as passengers B 30-60 was called to board the plane.

Whew. We'd made it with no time to spare. Dad, on the other hand, said, "Great. I even have time to go to the bathroom." I think my nearly hysterical response to that idea changed his mind rather quickly, and we were two of the last four people on the plane. I'd had enough of this "last people on the plane" stuff when I'd waited for him in Salt Lake, and I'd thought I'd planned well enough to avoid it on the return trip, but at that point, I was just glad we were on the plane, headed home, even if we had to spend the last four hours of our trip sitting rows apart.

The only non-stop flight from Baltimore didn't fit well with flights from SLC to Phoenix, so I thought I'd do some creative booking (call me travel agent Denton) and ask Tucker to pick me up at the airport and take me to the Provo airport for a flight to Mesa a few hours later. Not only would I get home faster, but I'd get to see my kids and their teeny woman that I love to squeeze so much.
A special bonus:Great-Grandpa Tucker would get to meet Annie.
Naughty little thing--she blew her diaper out while we were getting our luggage, but Grandpa loves nothing more than babies in just a diaper or onesie.
There wasn't a ton of time between my flights, and I didn't have the time to thank Dad properly before we had to leave--a tight hug, a goodbye kiss, and a "Drive safe. Love you." before I hopped in the car with Tucker and his family.

This was supposed to be a quicker way home to AZ.

It wasn't.

We boarded the plane on time. I found my seat in the exit row by the window, pulled out my phone, texted Brad that I was on time and on my way home, and the plane headed for the runway. And stopped.

Then the announcement came.

The loudspeaker crackled, and the captain began speaking. "Blah, blah, blah . . . panel light problem  . . . blah, blah, blah . . . try something. Stand by."

We waited on the plane.

Then it came again.

"Blah, blah, blah . . . It's Sunday . . . blah, blah, blah  . . . mechanic will be here in an hour . . . blah, blah, blah . . . deplane and wait."


Since the Provo airport is the tiniest airport outside of Irkustk, TSA had left as soon as we'd all boarded the plane, and all 97 of us were caged in the waiting area (a room about 30x40) until the plane could be fixed. And who knows how long that will be.
Our flight had been scheduled for 2:30, arriving in Mesa at 2:45 (I love gaining an hour on my way home), and most people had planned to eat when they landed, but this delay and hungry people was not a good mix, especially when combined with the tiniest airport outside of Irkutsk--which has no food options. TSA produced one employee who could scan food into the waiting room, but no one could leave, for any reason. I was one of the lucky ones. I texted Tucker, and he brought me a lunch of PB and J, an apple, blueberries and a bell pepper. Others called Domino's for delivery, and strangers became friends over cheap pizza and airline-provided Coke products.

The loudspeaker came to life again.

"Blah, blah, blah  . . . still not fixed . . . blah, blah, blah . . . captain is in the plane and won't answer the phone  . . . blah, blah, blah . . . "

Four hours past our scheduled departure time, we saw the baggage being unloaded before the final announcement confirmed our fears.

Cancelled until tomorrow morning.

Before anyone else was online, I pulled up Southwest on my iPad, found a flight out of SLC the next morning, called Brad and asked him to use his points to GET ME HOME, then called Tucker and asked if he could entertain an overnight guest.

As far as cancellations and aborted plans go, being forced to spend the night with T and his family, eating spaghetti and talking past midnight, it was a great option. Not like I was stuck in Milwaukee for the night, not knowing anyone in town.

When Karli dropped me off back at the Salt Lake airport the next morning, 22 hours after I thought I'd left it, I was so happy to finally be headed home.

Baltimore, DC, Gettysburg. Stolen property and good people.

Late traveling companions, long lines, airport delays and cancelled flights.

It was an unforgettable trip, one that Dad and I will rehash and swim in the memories for years to come.


  1. Oh, what a trip! But your back in Utah again for Labor day? WHAT?

  2. I absolutely loved reading about your trip with your Dad. Such great, great memories.

  3. I think it's great that you got to spend the night with the kids.

    I always like to be early at the airport, and I drive everyone a little nuts, I think. But it stresses me out when I'm there at the last minute and there's a long line.

    What a great thing to do with your dad.