JD had to work this past weekend, so I took advantage of the holiday weekend by visiting my college roommate in Omaha. When I was picking the flight a few months ago, I hesitated. Most flights between here and Nebraska have a layover in Chicago, but I generally try to fly through somewhere else if at all possible, because I always seem to have problems flying through Chicago. I made an exception this time because I figured bad weather in May would be highly unlikely. I thought maybe, just maybe, this time would be different.
Well, I was half right. My flight there was a breeze. I did have a short delay, but my layover was so quick I hardly noticed it. The return flight, on the other hand, was a completely different story. My flight left Omaha at 11:20 on Tuesday morning. Before I even boarded that flight, I got a notification from the airline that my Chicago flight had been delayed from 3:20 to 4:30. I sighed and sent JD a cranky text.
After a really rough landing in Chicago (another reason I hate flying through there- they don't call it the windy city for nothing!), I was happy to be on solid ground and settle my stomach. I checked the monitors and... more bad news... my flight had been delayed till 6pm. That was supposed to be when I was arriving home. Well, technically an hour after because I lost an hour on the flight back.
There was only one way to remedy my increasingly bad mood- an extremely decadent chocolate brownie that I paid way too much for because... well... I was in the airport.
As the afternoon wore on, I continued to get notifications that my flight had been delayed longer and the airport was getting extremely crowded. Due to storms up and down the east coast, most east coast flights were either on long delays or cancelled because air traffic control was running out of air space with all the flights that needed to be diverted around the storms. It was a beautiful day in Chicago, but crappy weather elsewhere was wreaking havoc on air travel. So, not really Chicago's fault, but I'll still blame them, since I tend to have such bad experiences with air travel there.
Eventually, my flight was cancelled. Fortunately, I was one of the first people in the customer service line, so I got booked on a later flight that, after several posted delays, did end up leaving on time at 8:30. Overall, I spent 13 hours traveling that day- 8 hours of that was spent waiting around in Chicago. I passed the time playing Words With Friends, reading, and chatting with the other passengers. It always amazes me how people can have such a sense of humor when flight issues arise. Maybe because it's expected and maybe because we were all in the same boat that day. I talked to a few people who had actually boarded their flight to Philly and were all set to go, but were then asked to de-board the plane and were sitting in the terminal with practically no information about if and when they would leave. I talked to a teacher who had a classroom of kids expecting her to be there the next day and couldn't really afford to miss work. I talked to a nice couple who actually used to live in NC (now in Florida) and were waiting things out with a surprisingly happy (and adorable!) toddler. All of these people were in relatively good spirits and helped lighten my mood. So thanks to them.
Oh, and to the man who held my place in the customer service line when I desperately had to pee? You definitely saved the day. You could have told me to hold it or go to the back of the line, but you saved me from being stranded overnight, like the 35 people from our flight who were left on the standby list when our flight couldn't accommodate them.
In the end, all the hassle of the trip was worth it. I was rewarded for my long day of travel by coming home to 3 pups who were literally falling over each other to try to greet me first (apparently, Harrier and Sadie had been on a hunger strike while I was gone... Boyd's hunger strike lasted a day before he caved and started eating again). Then I crawled into bed with the best husband ever, who had cleaned the house and baked cookies for my return (ladies, please contact me if you'd like to clone him).
Most importantly, I had such a great visit with my friend. We spent the weekend shopping, laying by the pool, eating, drinking, and just generally having a great time. She's one of those friends where it feels like no time has passed when we see each other, because we pick up right where we left off. She's also going through a really hard time in her life, so I was so glad to be there for her for a small part of it. I'm in awe of the grace and tenacity she's shown during this difficult time. As hard as things have been, I'm so happy for her, because she's coming out the other side stronger, more beautiful, and more vibrant than ever. Just look at her!
She was also a fabulous hostess, cooking me breakfast every morning and accommodating my hippie-vegetarian lifestyle (I know, I'm so high maintenance).
Long story short, some trips are worth the travel headaches, but if you can, fly through somewhere besides Chicago. Seriously.