03 August 2007

getting stuck

My flight from Seattle to San Francisco left at 7:40 am without me. I arrived at the airport about an hour before, and I just did not have enough time to get through the lines. I later made friend with a fellow stand bye, a young mother with an absolutely beautiful baby, who told me that a few weeks prior security had found wires hidden inside a block of cheese. Apparently the terrorists are testing our systems. Sea Tac is on high alert.

My luggage went to San Francisco, and then at 11am Pacific Time it went to Philadelphia. Philly is where I am trying to get. I got through security at 9am, and at that point the only way to get to Philly was through Denver. I stood standby for two flights to Denver, one at 9:30 and the other at 11:30. Both flights were so booked that by the time the 11:30 took off I was number 22 in the stand by line.

Some how United Airlines has neither a customer service desk nor a phone number to call to figure out what to do when the situation gets messy. This moment—at about 12:30—was the one moment that I almost lost control of myself. I have never flown stand by before, and the fact that I was making a connection confused me even more. I was in line to stand by for a 2pm flight to Denver but would I still be able get to Philadelphia? The Lady at the gate said maybe I should go to Chicago, and then she walked away. I had no idea what to do with this information, so I just walked in circles until I found nice man who checked and told me that there was no way I could get to Philly via Chicago or Denver and that he did not know what to do. Then HE walked away.

My flights are being arranged by Sato travel, a travel agency that deals with all military and government flights. I called them and they set me up with a red eye flight from Seattle to Philadelphia leaving at 11:30 pm and arriving in Philadelphia at 7:15 am eastern standard time.

Against all odds I actually have had a great day. I took a bus to downtown and bought lunch and then watched the new Simpson’s movie. I walked around downtown a bit and found my way to the new Seattle Art Museum. Today is the first Thursday of the month and accordingly admission to the museum was free. I finally returned to the airport around 6 pm. I bought a cup of coffee and read the newspaper. Over the intercom I heard an announcement about a flight to San Jose and suddenly I remembered that my friend Chris McCarter was flying to San Jose this very night. I picked up my stuff and rushed to towards the terminal I thought he would be in. After a minute of rushing I walked directly in front of him, and he jumped on me and gave me a big hug. His flight boarded at 8:15. We made our way to a restaurant and ate fries and drank a beer. I walked him to his gate and we had a few minutes to talk. Since we already said our goodbyes this encounter was easy, painless and reaffirmed that me are forever friends.

I am now sitting at my gate, 30 minutes from boarding.

I just finished Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. I highly recommend it.


Kristen said...

Did you know that song of solomon is my favorite book of all time?
well it is, toni morrison is a genius. you should read sula next. god, i love her details, like the names of her characters (eg. milkman, pilot...)so good.

i am so glad that you made it to bulgaria safely and you should know
that i am always sending out little prayers from every religion with your name attached hoping that they keep you safe.

i love you old friend,

Ashley said...

Both experiences that I have had traveling internationally- Paris and Tahiti- were both exactly like yours. Okay- so the Paris one wasn't terrible but Heathrow airport is. our Tahiti flight got delayed 11 hours and we got to spend the first part of our honeymoon sitting in LAX with no answers. How did you do all that with so little sleep?? You never cease to amaze me.