So many of you may recall me saying in my last post that this past weekend was terrible for us. That is as true today as it was yesterday. It all began a couple weeks ago when we decided we wanted to visit P's family in Pennsylvania before P begins nursing school, because once he does, they don't have any holidays or breaks except for Christmas.
My dad is a retired airline captain so that means we are able to fly non rev to where ever we want to go. For those of you not familiar with that type of travel, non rev is when you pay only the tax for your ticket but it also doesn't guarantee you a seat. If the flight you are listed for is full then you won't be able to take that flight. P and I are listed under what's called D3, meaning we have the lowest priority for non revs. D1's are current employees and will be accommodated first, D2's are the retired employee and their spouse and D3's are the employees relatives and friends.
We were planning on taking a flight from here to Chicago and then on to Philadelphia. Our flight was taking off at 7am on Friday so we had to be at the airport two hours early, (when you are non rev-ing you usually come earlier than ticketed passengers). After waiting for awhile we were the last ones one the plane. Whew! The hard part is always getting from here to O'hare because they stopped flying the jumbo jets and started using eagles.
We got to Chicago and were dismayed to see our flight was delayed an extra two hours. That's when the nightmare began. After waiting the full two hours and suffering through two gate changes, they announced that our particular flight had been cancelled do to the bad weather which had caused delays earlier. We were both pretty upset but hopeful that we could just get on the next flight to Philly. Unfortunately because our flight was cancelled, that meant 32 other passengers were going to be accommodated before us because they actually had tickets. After standing in several different lines and talking to a few disgruntled gate agents, we found out that the earliest we could get to PA was by Saturday night. I'm usually good at keep my emotions in check in public but at this point I was so horrendously disappointed I burst into tears while standing in line to talk to another gate agent. To which commenced about an hour and a half of quiet sobbing. In my defense however, I blame only getting an hour's sleep that night because we were both too excited to get any rest.
We had been planning on flying home Monday morning so going to Philadelphia on Saturday night was out of the question so we asked the agent to book us on the next flight back to home, which he kindly did.
We were just settling in our seats to wait at the gate for our flight home when over the loud speaker came the dreaded PA announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen this flight to SLC has been cancelled". It wasn't soon after this that P pointed out a disturbing trend, after standing in a long line to talk to the gate agent, we would only be two people away, when the agent would vanish all together. Sometimes in a flurry of apologies saying they were needed else where; (who else could need them as badly as stranded passengers? My guess is the nearest restaurant terminal was passing out free drinks) or they would simply march away from the counter and into thin air.
I can't imagine a more unrewarding job then gate agent. To an unhappy customer, the closest they're ever going to get to telling an Airline where to stick it is by expressing it to the agent. Common sense would tell the average person that the gate agent had nothing to do with the bad weather or delays but it seems to be a virtue that's put on the back burner when you have a bone to pick because you're going to miss your connection from Miami to Fiji.
As the day progressed, we were put on at least seven different flights all heading to our destination and all of them got cancelled. Needless to say, it was a pretty awful day. Not one of these tickets in my hand could get us home.
P and I both have relatives living in the Chicago area who would have gladly picked us up to stay with them but they kept telling us we would probably get on the next one, or we couldn't leave yet, or they weren't allowed to list us for a flight the next day. We ended up spending a total of eleven hours in the O'hare airport. By that point, P and I were exhausted, my feet were killing me (I was wearing heels), and we just wanted to go home. After being told we would probably get on the last flight going out at ten pm and to "wait here at the gate, I just have to board these passengers", we decided to head out and sleep at a nearby motel and try again the next day.
After checking in, we were directed to a little dining room where we could still grab a bite to eat. Dragging our luggage behind us, we made our way to the seating area to await our hostess, who can only be described in two words: St. Pearl.
Pearl was the acting hostess/waitress/all around person in charge of the little bar and grill we were directed to. After quickly greeting us she began to explain that even though there were a couple people still dining, the kitchen and eating area was in fact closed. At this point P and I must have let our exhaustion/disappoint show because before we knew it, she had picked up two menus and said, and I quote: "Oh never mind, come with me weary children and I'll feed you." I didn't know whether to hug her and weep on her motherly shoulders. She quickly seated us and brought us our food and was overall simply delightful. She affectionately referred to us as her little weary travelers.
The next morning we made our way back to the dreaded airport and miraculously was able to get on the first flight home.
We were never so happy than we were that day to see the runway. Although our weekend had been ruined, and we had been stranded in an airport surrounded by miserable people, I can say three good things came out of this. 1. I know P and I definitely love each other. 2. I will call my dad the next time this happens because as it turns out, my dad at the computer is a lot more helpful than a gate agent at the airport. 3. There really is no place like home.