Friday, November 25, 2011

Home Again

I'm back home again today after the last 5 or 6 days spent at the old homestead. It was great to see everyone, but in a way it sucked because of the reason. (my mom died unexpectedly).

Anyway, after getting off to a lousy start, the trip ended pretty uneventfully. I was to leave here Friday midday, but 1st flight was canceled due to high winds. Plus, there was a wildfire in the area, leading to a large amount of smoke in the air. Then I was rescheduled to leave late afternoon, which would have gotten me into Detroit at 6am Saturday morning. That flight was then also canceled, which led to me finally getting to Detroit 24 hours after originally planned. (Sorry if I'm repeating myself; I can't remember if I posted this before or not! Old age :+( )

I haven't had the best of luck when it comes to air travel in the last few years. It seems that whenever I go somewhere, I get delayed, miss connections, get rescheduled, or end up having to spend many hours somewhere I don't want to be. Surprisingly enough, today's flights actually went off as planned! I even had enough time to have a Cinnabon while in the Salt Lake airport! (Cinnamon rolls are just about my ULTIMATE indulgence food!)

For anyone who cares, it seems that Black Friday is a good day to travel by air. The airports were not any more crowded than a typical day (in my experience). I would NOT want to be traveling on Sunday, however. I suspect that day will be the definition of crazy!

As a good example of my bad luck while traveling, about 10 or 12 years ago, I flew to Detroit between Christmas and New Years to visit family. (I know, what was I thinking?) Over New Years Eve and New Years Day, pretty much all of the upper midwest had a huge snowstorm, which dumped at least a foot or two of snow everywhere. If I remember right, I was supposed to leave Detroit mid-morning of Jan 2 (Sat). It should have been a sign that it was not going to turn out well when it took well over an hour to get to the airport. This was before 9/11 when people were still able to see you off at the gate; mom and dad sat there waiting with me through flight delays, gate changes, plane changes, crew delays, etc, etc, etc. Finally about 3 or 4 pm, I sent them home hoping that they at least would be able to get home before it was too late to see where they were driving.

About this time, flights were beginning to stack up because gates were full and there were no places for incoming planes to park. After multiple delays, we were eventually herded onto a plane and told we'd be leaving 'momentarily'. Three hours later we were finally allowed off the plane and told we would need to be ready to re-board immediately when the flight was ready to depart. Needless to say, it never did depart and my night was spent (along with many thousands of others) on the cement floors of Detroit Metro Airport!

This was not a good way to see man's humanity to man! All of the airline personnel wanted to get home to their own families, so eventually the airport emptied of all 'official' people. And, gee, not too many of them showed up for work the next day! There was perhaps one gate agent for every 10 or 15 gates, with thousands of upset people trying to get to wherever they called home. This was now a Sunday, and another 12 or 15 hours went by with not a single plane leaving the ground. Eventually I gave up and begged mom and dad to come pick me up get me away from the torture chamber that the airport had become. Did you know that when an airport is occupied by tens of thousands of people the restaurants run out of food? Most baggage checked had already been loaded onto planes, and many people with children were left without diapers, formula, and other vital items. Not to mention the fact that a few more thousand people were still in the planes that were stranded out on the runways with no way to get to the terminal itself!

To make a long story short, I finally left Detroit the following Wednesday. Thanks to some anonymous airline staffer, I was upgraded to first class (my first and only time) and thoroughly enjoyed my flight to Portland Oregon amid the quiet clink of china and the screaming baby-less seats that are actually big enough to be comfortable in!

Thus is the story of the FIRST, THE ORIGINAL, Runway Sunday! An experience that made me swear to never again visit Detroit during the winter! It may not QUITE be winter yet, but perhaps my jinx of Detroit and Winter has finally been broken.

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