Once again I’m back at the airport – this time Phoenix heading back home after a much shorter stay than usual. My flight this past Friday heading to Phoenix was canceled due to a major snowstorm hitting the Northeast. The flight I was rebooked on was also canceled. That was just the start of my day, which turned into an 18-hour saga getting from Newark to Phoenix.
The snow in NJ had started the day before – snowed all day Thursday, through the night and was still snowing when I arrived at Newark airport – yet my flight was still showing an on time departure. Somehow though I had a bad feeling and I soon as I walked into the terminal and saw a line a ½ mile long that wasn’t moving and I knew I was in for the long haul. It looked like the fall of Saigon – hundreds of people clamoring to get out. I immediately started multi-tasking – got into the end of the line, got on the phone with Continental and had my husband who had driven me to the airport wait in another long line. The lines weren’t moving and my first call to Continental was dropped after holding for 45 minutes. When I finally got through on the phone after another 45 minute wait – I was told I was rebooked into Phoenix on Sunday. That clearly wasn’t going to work because I needed to be in Phoenix at 9AM the next morning, Saturday to give a seminar for ASMP: Multimedia and Video. Not to mention the fact that my return flight headed OUT of Phoenix back to Newark was on Sunday – technically leaving Phoenix before the airline had me arriving in Phoenix. I found out that when the airlines rebooks your flight – they just look at that one leg and not the whole itinerary.
I asked the agent if she could get me out of any of the NY area airports into Houston that day. I knew if I could get out of the Northeast, I was a jump ahead of the thousands of people who had flights canceled on Thursday and Friday. She told me she could get me out of Philadelphia and into Houston that afternoon but couldn’t get me from Houston to Phoenix until Saturday morning, arriving at 9:30AM – ½ hour after my presentation was supposed to start. Oh well I would be fashionably late – but at least I’d get there. So she rebooked the flight – I grabbed my husband and said – how do you feel about driving to Philadelphia? He said, “let’s go” and we did.
So we started our two-hour drive to Philadelphia airport. Keep in mind we had just gotten over 18 inches of snow, so we knew that two hour drive could easily turn into double that in time. However, as we started heading down the NJ Turnpike we quickly realized we were one of the few vehicles on the road. Being that it was Friday and the schools had been closed for the second day in a row, most intelligent people were still home in bed. We pretty much had the road to ourselves and about half way to Philly the road got better and the snow became less and less. I was beginning to feel a bit more hopeful.
Philadelphia airport was a much calmer scene and within a couple of hours I was airborne to Houston. When I arrived in Houston I checked a monitor and noticed that there was still one more flight to Phoenix that night so I quickly went to a customer service desk and asked if I could get rebooked on that flight. The agent told me it was full but I asked her if she could kindly check. She did and sure enough the gods were with me because two seats had just opened up. She snagged one, gave me my boarding pass and I headed toward the gate.
By this time it was about 9PM after a very difficult day. I cued up with the first class and elite passengers as they waited to board the flight and two men were talking about how messed up the airport was in Orlando, Florida that day. I couldn’t help myself and interjected “Orlando! I started out in Newark this morning”. One of the men, a seasoned road warrior looked at me and said, “You got out of Newark? I’m impressed”. As we boarded the plane, he said to the flight attendant “This lady came from Newark!” (still impressed over my achievement) and the flight attendant looked at him and said “Well I came from Cancun”.
So I was one of the lucky ones – but only because I’m a very determined individual – not to mention that I always have a plan B, C and all the way to Z. I went with my gut and it paid off. And then I thought about the 3 month round the world sojourn I will be undertaking this summer and I thought to myself that I should have my head examined. And then I thought – No – I’ll just leave plenty of time, keep a cool head and an open mind and follow my instincts and I’ll be fine.