The Burger King biscuits this morning in the concourse just about erased the lengthy evening yesterday. Thankfully at long last I did make it out of La Guardia. It’s been a fall of holiday firsts. First time working the day after Thanksgiving. First Turkey Day in the Big Apple followed by first time seeing NYC decorated for Christmas. And now, first time flying out in peak holiday craziness, period.
The upside of usually taking a more lengthy vacation at Christmas is that you aren’t stuck flying in the midst of the hordes filing off either to their families, to skiing in Vale or Boulder, or to some exotic warm destination in the Caribbean. Having zilch on the vacation day front for the remainder of 2007, my option to do so was non-existent. Instead, I left midday yesterday with plans to take the latest flight possible back out of AL at 7ish to get back Christmas Day at midnight.
My 5pm flight was pushed back to what would eventually be 6:15 not due to mechanical problems or weather but due to air flight traffic. I know it happens, but gee, you would think at a peak time like this that the airlines would be at the top of their game. Just kidding. Anyhow, delay meant I knew before we’d even reached the original slated departure time that my connection would not be doable, and there was no later flight to Huntsville available.
“What about Birmingham? Nashville? Memphis? Even Atlanta??” I asked.
The desk attendant shook his head. “All booked.”
“What about tomorrow?” I asked. Hopeful that something was miraculously empty.
He shook his head even more emphatically. “Tomorrow… tomorrow does not look good.”
His advice? Take the flight to Charlotte. Chances to get me out of Charlotte were promising. Out of La Guardia? Not so much. It might have had to have been a merry merry Manhattan otherwise. So, I sucked it up and figured stranded en route in Charlotte was superior to not being en route or en route back to my apartment.
Since it was air traffic related, no vouchers of any sort… so no food or assistance on hotel expenses. Blech. I arrived into Charlotte and figured first things first, I needed some dinner. ASAP. Having watched eateries close at ridiculously early hours in airports, I made a beeline for the Ranch 1 Chicken for fear of it closing in front of my eyes. I swear the fries had magical powers. Only chocolate remained to make this evening salvageable. Mrs. Fields helped to rectify, and I was soon in hot pursuit of my luggage and off to baggage services to get a voucher for at least a discounted hotel.
It was eventful. I watched my first grown up ever pitch an outright temper tantrum. And while mentally I might have been right there with her, I definitely had managed to keep my frustrations restrained to being internal versus a display for the entire queue of displaced passengers waiting in line.
The shuttle which ran “every 10-15 minutes” showed up some 30 minutes later. I made friends with a displaced flight attendant. He’d opted to switch locations with a colleague for the week thinking it would be a more peaceful locale. He said he thought he’d drawn the short straw there. I also made friends with a kind young man on his home leave from the military. He had quite his share of luggage, but was so kind and insisted in helping to first have my luggage loaded into the shuttle van.
As I was checking into the hotel, I was amused to hear quite loud music coming from the hotel bar/lounge. At first, I thought it was all-out extreme karaoke hour, but it turned out that it was instead a band that performed regularly called Coco Loco. Nice. They were crooning away “can’t get enough of your love baby…”
(I mentally was singing back-up – “ooooooooooh!”)
The hotel was surprisingly large. It wasn’t until I weaved my way back almost to my room that I remembered that I’d forgotten to ask for a toothbrush or some toothpaste. And my teeth were still coated with Mrs. Fields’ finest icing. My dentist would wince, but I was too tired to care and kept on trekking to my room.
Upon arriving, I just had to laugh. There were holes in the thermal blanket on the bed. And after about 15-20 minutes of lead-time, the heater was still struggling on “high” and on super warm temperature extreme to put out something that might be classed as lukewarm. I was just pleased though for a few short hours to slip into my PJs and get a little bit of shut eye.
This morning, I had to wake up earlier than I do to go to work to make sure to allow enough time for the airport check-in insanity. I’ll admit to being a bit grossed out to find someone’s damp towel crumpled in with the shower liner in the bathroom. I just cranked up the hot water, took the quickest shower possible, and figured at least I would soon be clean.
Much thanks to my friends for keeping me virtual company last evening. The calls from Mom, BB chatting with WT, and texts from DrP and Bam. Truly was my sanity.
And now I’m just here waiting peacefully at my gate to board my plane. I’m in the second row, which means upon landing I’m SO outta there. I’ve had a fine Southern breakfast of butter biscuits and a massive Diet Coke. And I’m soon to be greeted by my family and be en route to my favorite restaurant. It was a detour – definitely not desired – but it’s all good. I’ll soon be home for Christmas. Oh yes, I’m coming home…
(Please note this blog is unofficially sponsored by Charlotte’s free wireless connection. Biscuits and free wireless are reasons I suppose I won’t let this experience temporarily tarnish my opinion of Charlotte’s airport!)