My flight from SFO to RDU by way of Atlanta left at 7:30 Am on Sunday, July 7. I got up around 4:30 to shower and for last minute packing. It was about a 40 minute drive from Mountain View to SFO, but there's not much traffic on the 101 at that time. I went to the gate, got on my plane and up, up and away we went. I fell asleep at some point and woke up to the sound of our fearless Captain explaining that we may have noticed we're "in a holding pattern" above the Atlanta airport. (Foreshadowing, people.) After flying in circles for twenty minutes, we land at Gate B something. Any of my dear readers ever fly into Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta? If you've flown Delta, you have. It's five separate buildings, connected underground by a really, really long walk way and a subway. I got into ATL around 3 PM and was scheduled to leave at 5:20 PM to RDU. I'm sitting patiently at Gate A5, when there's an announcement that my flight has moved to Gate A29. Okay, fine. On my way to the new gate I stop for Chinese food because it's the only reasonably priced food in the place. I wolf it down because I am so hungry by this point I'm about to pass out.
Around 4-ish, my flight is delayed a little. About an hour later, my flight is now delayed until about 8:45. Oh, and throw in another gate change while we're at it. I am guessing I've walked about two miles at this point. The flight was delayed again until about 9:20 or so. The delays were due to storms all over the East Coast. I have called my "friend" Margaret, to let her know about the delays and she is telling me there's no problem and I should keep her updated. (More foreshadowing, people.) The flight is finally scheduled to leave at 10:15-ish after yet more delays. I call Margaret, who announces to me that she's had a tough weekend and she doesn't think she can pick me up at the airport after all. I'm scheduled to get in around 11:30, by the time I get my bags and get out of the airport, it'll be close to 12:30. How many people do you know that you can call at 10:30 on a Sunday night to pick you up in the airport in two hours. Buses don't run. Taxis are sketchy and freakishly expensive. I told her to forget it and called J&L, the two friends that I know I can always count on to support me. Margaret then leaves me a voicemail, "Oh, c'mon, don't be like that. Don't be mad. Call me." Don't be like that? Um, what did I do wrong? If I told you I'd pick you up at the airport, I will pick your ass up. If your flight gets in at 4 AM, I'm driving to the airport in my jammies to get you. I may not be talkative, but I'm coming to get you.
J&L were standing by to get me. I was getting on a plane FINALLY. All was right in the world. Until I found my seat, that is...an aisle seat thankfully, next to Jeff Foxworthy and Larry The Cable Guy. Dear Lord, kill me. The flight attendant announced there were empty seats so I moved up one, next to a Japanese woman and her adorable son. They had a brief but heated debate in Japanese about how he needed to turn off his light, put down the comic book, and go to sleep. I know this because he made one last plea, in English, "but I'm not sleepy!" Within ten minutes he was totally sacked out. We begin to take off and I realize we're just driving around. In circles. Again. Doing donuts on the runway, so to speak. Us and six other planes, according to our Captain. Fifteen minutes later, the Captain does pilot double speak for "the FAA says I have to call it a night." I must admit to be confused as to how you get ready to take off and THEN realize you've logged to many hours? How? How does this happen? They bring us back to the gate and make us wait. They announce they are going to find a new flight crew and we should sit tight. Cool, I can sit tight. I've been sitting tight since 5:30 that morning. I'm getting really good at sitting tight. By this point, I'm almost a pro.
My flight is finally cancelled around 10:45. I call J&L to let them know they can go to bed and a woman in Delta outfit gives me an overnight bag. I am then told to go to customer service to get rebooked. I find a line a mile long and stand. It is brought to my attention that some folks are going to an automated queue to get hotel assignments and new flights. Off I go. This looks innocuous since the girl on my cancelled flight just got a room in the Sheraton. My room? In the Red Roof Inn. Say whaaaa? (Snob alert) I don't *stay* at the Red Roof Inn. (If only blogger had a more condescending typeface) The machine also tells me I get $7 towards breakfast and for flight info, I have to see a Delta rep. I get back in line. A very bitchy woman in a Delta uniform comes by and barks at us to go to the 24 hour customer service desk up front because we'll be in line longer here in Terminal A. I advise her as politely as possible that there is a special place in hell reserved just for Delta and their employees and walk off to find the 24 hour desk. Please keep in mind that during all of this I was on the phone with the most patient woman from Orbitz, who was unable to get me on an earlier flight, but gave it the ol' college try anyway.
The desk I am looking for is cleverly hidden in the midst of baggage claim and has space for 24 Delta employees to serve their customers. This being a unique situation and them being Delta, they had six fresh-faced employees ready and waiting. Yay Delta! I waited in line until 1:30 in the morning to finally get to speak with someone. Her name was Eve. She was a tiny, cold hearted Irish woman more concerned with company policy than the fact that I've been wearing my bathing suit top for two days because I am so sunburned I can't wear a bra, that I have been up for 21 hours by this point, and that I've walked nearly five miles in that airport that day. My only other option for a hotel room is a smoking room in the Quality Inn. Tempting as that is, a smoking room is out of the question. Eve also informs me that I have been booked on a flight on Tuesday. Tuesday? As in two days from now? No. Oh, no. No, no. I don't think so. Eve offers me stand-by and tells me to be at the airport at 5:45 AM. She assures me that my suitcase will go out on the first flight to Raleigh and be waiting for me when I arrive. I go outside to find the shuttle for the Red Roof Inn.
Shuttles come, shuttles go. And I wait. Except I'm not waiting patiently at this point. I call the Red Roof Inn. I speak to someone who assures me that the shuttle is coming. I waited 45 minutes for the shuttle to arrive. And lo and behold, the shuttle had already come by, she just didn't let anyone know she was going to the RRI. Their logo was not on the bus. Everyone else's was. Sigh. It's now 3 AM, and I'm just arriving to the Crack Den, er....Red Roof Inn. The zombie at the desk gives me my room key and I go upstairs. I find room 231, put the card key in the lock, the light turns green, I turn the door knob and...the door is locked. From the INSIDE. As in...it's already occupied. Young black dude opens the door, releasing whiff of smoke. (Let's put it this way, the last time I smelled that kind of smoke, I was in a beat-down orange Pinto with my best punk rock pals, Sean and Eric. Ahem.) He's looking at me like I'm from Mars and I'm chanting, "I'm so sorry," while backing up.
I go down to the lobby and as I am getting off the elevator, I begin shouting, "How the hell does this happen?" She gives me another room and I go upstairs. I was seriously *cranky* by this point. I finally have a place to sleep and I realize I have to be at the airport in two hours. Groan. I set both alarms, turned on the TV and laid down for an hour. I go off to the airport at 5 AM, after one hour of sleep.
I was flying standby for the first time so I had no idea what to do or expect. I thought I had to be first in line at the gate and look most pathetic. Alas, no. I was first at Gate A something, and I stood at the desk. A line began to form behind me, mostly people on my cancelled flight from last night. I look at the TV and see there's a gate change. ATL changes gate like I change my underwear. Of course, in this case, more frequently than I change my underwear, you know, since I don't have suitcase at the moment. I say out loud, like a dumbass, "oh, they changed our gate." Suddenly there's a mad dash to gate B whatever. I am not entirely sure I can take another step, let alone run, so I trail behind and curse these people to the fiery depths of hell. When we get to the new and improved gate, the Delta person, barks that we just need to have a seat. (Ha, ha. Joke's on them.) I sit for a few minutes and realize I am starving because I hadn't eaten since 3 PM the previous day. I hit the Dunkin' with my complimentary $7 and my breakfast costs me a whopping fifteen cents. OJ and an egg bagel in my tummy makes me feel so much better. Thinking clearly, I hit the customer service desk and finally get to speak to Robert. Robert was very nice. While in line, I concoct a story to lay on Robert. I tell him that I really can't wait until Tuesday to get home. I also tell him that I just don't feel good because I'm pregnant and I only got one hour of sleep the night before. Oh yeah, and I was supposed to see the doctor today but I had to reschedule for tomorrow because it's a really important appointment, etc. You can see where this is going, right? Robert being the dear man that he is found me a seat on the 9:55 flight. I love that guy. My next challenge is that I have to stay awake so as to not miss that flight.
I kept my eyes open and finally borded a plane that actually took off. I arrived in Raleigh just before noon on Monday and advised my boss I was most decidely NOT coming in. I got home around 1 PM.
I have never before been so happy to be in Raleigh.