I Think I’ll Stay Home, Thanks

I have a new appreciation for what people who have to fly for a living, like Dave, must endure. The past two days have convinced me that perhaps man was not intended to fly… at least, in this day and age. *

My son and his new wife were flying home from their honeymoon on Sunday. I think it is okay now to say they went to Jamaica and had a stop in Atlanta, Georgia, before flying into the nearest big city, Des Moines, Iowa (about an hours' drive from home as it is on the southernmost side of town and we live to the north). Before they ever left (when we took them to the airport at 3 a.m. – remember?) they were looking at their itinerary and realized they only had 17 minutes between their arriving flight into Atlanta and their departing flight to Des Moines. I reminded them this would be their first stop in the U.S.A. and they would need to go through customs, making a rather short amount of time between flights into an impossible one.Before they left, then, they rescheduled the flights home allowing themselves a two hour layover in Georgia, which seemed quite adequate at the time. Silly us…

Son called in the morning before they left and gave me the flight numbers and times again just to be certain we had it all straight.The day of 'fun' began. I started watching the Atlanta and Des Moines airport sights for updates on their flights. The weather had been awful the night before in our area with ice turning to snow and high winds causing ground blizzards with no travel advised until midnight. Their flight was to come in close to 9 p.m. Atlanta was having their own fun with thunderstorms, and little did we know (stupid websight) that the airport was actually shut down for four hours. Four hours in which I watched the kids' flight into Atlanta get pushed back later and later for arrival, and the departing flight got pushed back in pretty equal amounts… however, the Des Moines airport as well as the airline's site that they were traveling on still showed them coming in "on time". Hmmm…

Our son was going to call from Atlanta and touch base with us, but as the evening went on and their flight got pushed back later and later, it finally appeared to be coming in for a landing – and their two hour layover had now dwindled to only one. The area of the airport they were coming in at was the furthest from the terminal (of course) and I knew they had to go through customs. I didn't worry when I didn't hear from them, thinking they'd not had time to call us after all. (At one time the computer showed them leaving Atlanta at 8:53 and arriving in Des Moines at 8:52! Now that's travel!)

At last the Des Moines and airline site appeared to catch up to the situation and it looked as though instead of coming in at 8:52 they were going to come in around 11:40. It got tweaked a few minutes this way and that as the evening progressed, but basically stayed right around then. Hubs and I, knowing how crappy the weather and roads were, decided to give ourselves a little extra time getting there and left home after one last check of the computer to confirm the 11:40 arrival.

You know the old adage about "best laid plans…"? Well, the roads were crappy, but managable with care, and we got to the airport with about 20 minutes to spare. Walking up to the arrival board we were stunned to see the arrival time for their flight had gone from 11:40 to 1:52 a.m. in the span of a little over an hour it took us to get to the airport! We were shell-shocked. Damn! Here I had been watching this stupid thing all day just to avoid this scenerio!

On top of everything else, our "international" airport is a joke. Nothing was open. No gift shop, no snack shop, nothing. Oh, the annoying recordings that break out over the loudspeaker every 10 minutes to remind you not to leave your bag, blah blah blah… yeah, that was working… but nothing else. Wouldn't you know it? Me… the woman who goes NOWHERE without a book… yeah, bookless. Hubs managed to get a cup of coffee out of a vending machine, figuring he'd need something to wire him up and keep him awake into the wee hours. We sat and mumbled to each other different ideas on what was going on at the other end of their flight… how miserable the kids must be and at least they'd made it to the states!

Ten minutes of waiting and my cell phone rings. It's our son. They have finally made it through customs and are still in Atlanta, having missed the connecting flight. Damn again! They had been having a helluva time. Their flight left Jamaica on time, but they were stuck on the tarmac for awhile waiting to leave, then and only then, was when I heard that the Atlanta airport had been shut down for four hours… because my son's flight was circling the airport waiting for them to re-open! Can you imagine? They were in the air so long that they had to land in Augusta to re-fuel! He said when they finally took off again the pilot told them he and the co-pilot were 11 minutes from being cut-off from flying any longer as they'd gone over their time limits… that if they hadn't taken off before the 11 minutes were up, they probably would have been stuck in Augusta for who-knows-how-long!

So… The newlyweds got the fun experience of spending the night in the Atlanta airport (because of the storms, there were no rooms left in the area)… and were to fly stand-by this morning.

Finally, this morning, at about noon, we were able to see their smiling faces. They made the plane! So did their luggage… ! The first place they wanted to go? Mickey-D's. Yep. They're baaaack…

*The kids had some horror stories to tell of people they encountered on the plane, too! I'll save that for another time…

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

17 thoughts on “I Think I’ll Stay Home, Thanks”

  1. I gotta say, no surprises there. It’s all part of the incredibley expensive service you pays for. And it isn’t just your home town, I don’t think I have encountered an airport with shops open all night, ever and that is a shame considering how much potential business income they are losing. The differential from and extra shift wages compared to the empty hours that the shop owner must still pay lease too is confounding to say the least. I hope the wedded couple had fun over all to make the trip worthwhile. Personally I have spent more time without landing in a jet than is healthy (21hrs 55min), so I feel for them.

  2. You know, it’s bad enough I’m afraid to fly because of the whole (albeit very small) possibility of crashing, but that whole scenario makes it even less appealing. It sounds like one giant hassle. I don’t remember it being that bad before when I used to fly. It’s been 11 years, though.

  3. What an experience! Glad they are back safe and sound… now they need another vacation to recover from the arriving home of that one!

  4. Ha – that is my usual scenario every time I have to fly with a layover. I’ve determined now to NEVER have a layover… I just won’t go OR I’ll make it an overnight since that’s what usually happens anyhow.

    At Atlanta or Chicago – it’s generally wise to have at least a 3 hour layover time to accommodate getting around the airport. When going through customs, I would’ve made it maybe even 4 hours. LOL.

    There are online flight trackers, this:


    is one of my favorites. You can enter the flight number and airline – it tells you where the flight is. No matter how bad the weather, you would always beat a flight coming from Atlanta if you waited to see that it had left the ground before leaving the house.

    Ah the joys of air travel. *sigh*

  5. That story brings back the memories of our October Vegas trip! {shudder} The trouble is, we’re planning our NEXT trip–hopefully in the not too distant future. Talk about gluttons for punishment! 🙂

  6. The Des Moines airport is so-o-o-o-o entertaining at one in the morning! I’m guessing they call it “International” ‘cuz it has one flight to Canada? I don’t think they can reach Mexico from there, can they?

  7. Hey at least they were smiling! I probably would have been punching people in the throat by then. LOL Glad they are home safe and sound!

  8. Air travel does not have a monopoly on instances of incompetence and poor efficiencies, coupled with occurences of Murphy’s Law. Maybe it seems to be more visible because of how milestone-oriented air travel is.

    What your folk went thru seems beyond the norm, tho, so maybe they didn’t pay their Murphy Bill?

  9. Ugh, what a pain in the ass! It amazes me that they couldn’t have done a better job with the tracking system in terms of having some type of notification that would’ve said the Atlanta airport was shut down. but, I have to tell you that the pilots really piss me off. I understand that unions exist for a reason, but for them to have walked off the plane and left all those passengers stranded like that is just B.S. What’s another 30 min. just to get all those people home who have already been delayed by four hours?

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