Thursday, January 7, 2010

And getting home again

Tonight while keeping a close watch on the unfortunate mess that heaped itself on the University of Texas in the national championship game (goodbye, 2009-2010 season of college football!  I'll miss you!), I came across a Fortune article via Serious Eats titled "Airport restaurants reap the upside of long waits."  Would I normally click through to such an article?  Not necessarily.  Is my interest somewhat piqued due to my 4+ hours spent in the Charlotte, North Carolina airport last Sunday due to travel delays?  Why yes, yes it is.  Considering the cash I bled at that airport on magazines, bottled water, a decent dinner, and a couple of beverages at Carolina Beer Company, I'd say the article is pretty darn accurate.  But allow me to back up a little bit.

Considering Diana and I celebrated the Red Raider victory with only a margarita each after the game finally ended around midnight, we managed to wake up on Sunday feeling pretty human.  After strategically cramming my crap into two suitcases (thanks for the spare, Vaughns!), a backpack, and a giant purse, we headed towards the airport and in search of a little sustenance.  San Antonio, I have to say that for a stretch of 410 and 281, you're a little lacking in decent food options.  Or maybe there's something awesome that we just didn't see.  At any rate, we resorted to Whataburger (not that there's anything wrong with Whataburger - I love the place!  Three times on my tour of Texas - woohoo!) before an airport goodbye.  I hate those, by the way.  I know I'll see my people again, but I really, really miss them, and getting dropped off at the airport just makes me sad.  I just can't help myself and get all teary-eyed.

So anyway, my sad self arrived at the airport to discover a 45 minute delay on my flight out.  Plane was coming in late from somewhere else, gate delays, etc etc etc.  No biggie - my layover in Charlotte was just over an hour, and I was sure I could hustle my way from one terminal to another in less than ten minutes.  My bags would make it when they made it.  Whatevs.  Well, then the layover became an hour, and then a solid hour and a half before we actually took to the skies.  Stink.  Hoping that my flight out of Charlotte was delayed, I raced off the plane to discover that my connecting flight had in fact declined to wait on any connecting passengers and took off on time.  Fortunately, there were four more flights out that night to Reagan, and while I was waaaaaay down the stand-by list for the first three, the gate agent assured me I had a seat on the 10:15 flight.  At least I knew I wouldn't be spending the night in Charlotte.

I proceeded to hustle back down to Terminal E from C (the Charlotte airport was surprisingly large - I had no idea, Charlotte metropolitan area!) to attempt to snag a seat on the 6:50 flight.  No dice.  Two largeish irate families in front on me on the standby list.  Opt to not even attempt the 7:45 and 8:40 flights and instead spend my time enjoying dinner, the end of my book, a magazine, and a beverage away from the irate families.  Board 10:15 flight.  Discover another person would like my seat in 15C.  Flight attendant informs me I'm still on standby while I'm sitting on the plane.  I politely yet somewhat forcefully inform her that I have a confirmed seat on this flight and would very much like to get home tonight.  Flight attendant returns to gate agent and in fact confirms that I am on the flight.  Phew.  If she had attempted to remove me from the plane, things might not have gone so well considering the travel adventures that bookended this holiday adventure.

Considering my bags had four chances to make it to D.C., they are conveniently waiting for me (thank goodness!) as soon as I arrive.  Given the late hour, opt for cab home rather than Metro and walk in the door at approximately midnight to a rather distraught and abandoned fur-child.  Home, home at last.  Promptly emailed work people and informed them I would be taking an additional day of vacation on Monday.  And then, to live not out of a suitcase - so nice.

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