Monday, March 14, 2011

Flying Fiasco

We were scheduled to be in New York for spring break from the 6th-12th.  I was in Ashley's wedding which was also the 12th, and we would have rehearsal on the 11th.  Obviously there was a little bit of overlap and since we were taking vans to New York, it wasn't like I could just drive myself home.  I knew I'd have to fly in, and we went ahead and got my ticket a couple months ago.  The plan was that I'd leave Laguardia Airport in New York at 7:00am Friday morning, have a layover in Detroit, then land in Roanoke around noon, and then Dad would come pick me up.  Ashley was having a bridesmaid's luncheon at 1:00, I knew I'd be late to it but told her I'd try my best to make it to the end of it, and that I would definitely be there for rehearsal.  Like I said, that was the plan...

Leaving New York, you can see the city below
Since Laguardia is in Queens and we were staying in Brooklyn, I knew I'd have to call a cab.  I was able to call Thursday night and line it up to get picked up at the church we were staying at, at 4:45am.  So I got up Friday morning, got ready and did my best to get all packed up without making any noise since everybody else was still sleeping.  Drew had offered to get up and see me off, and am so thankful that he did.  There is a fairly tall gate all around the church, and it gets locked at night, so when the cab pulled up and I went out to get in the car, I couldn't, I was locked inside!  Luckily he had been given a set of keys to the church, so he ran back inside to get them and I was finally able to get out.  That should have been the first sign that it was going to be an interesting day.

Well, hello Detroit!
Well, I made it to the airport in plenty of time, got checked in, and made it through security without any problems.   Never having flown by myself before, I was nervous about the whole thing, but at this point, I was feeling pretty confident and figured the rest of the day would be a breeze.  I boarded the plane and was ready to go!  We start heading towards the runway and then we stop.  And the pilot comes on the intercom.  Never a good sign.  He said it was snowing in Detroit and they had to close all their runways except one, so we would have to wait.  Awesome.  We were supposed to leave at 7:00, and didn't end up leaving until 9:00!  By the time we landed in Detroit I was positive I had missed my connecting flight, but when I checked the arrival/departure screens, it said it was still boarding.  Yes!  So I ask someone where Concourse C is and take off in a very quick walk through the airport.  I got down to Concourse C but couldn't find the sign for Gate C2 anywhere.  Eventually I did find it.  It wasn't on a big official sign like all the other ones.  No, on a standard sized piece of white paper was written C2 and it was taped to the wall with little strips of black tape.  I'm not even kidding.  It was ridiculous!  Granted, they were doing construction in the area, but when all the other signs are 2ft x 3ft and blue and silver, an 8in x11in piece of white paper does not work as a substitute.  I'm sorry.  So by the time I finally made it to the counter, I had missed it.  I was panicing on the inside but trying not to have a meltdown.

Cool fountain in Detroit airport
A tunnel in the airport, it changed colors!
I stood in line at customer service for at least half an hour and eventually found out that I could get another flight to Roanoke.  The only problem?  It didn't leave til 5:40pm, and it flew into Atlanta and then I'd have to take another flight back up to Roanoke, arriving at 10:17pm.  I tried to see if I could get another flight with another airline, but that was all they had, I had to take it.  I hated that I was going to miss rehearsal, but I also knew that there was nothing that I could do to change it, so I had to deal with it.  It was a little after 11:00, so I had almost 6 hours to kill in the Detroit airport.  I bought some magazines, grabbed lunch, slept some, walked around and people watched, got a smoothie from Starbucks, people watched some more, slept some more, and then finally it was time to board.  We made it to Atlanta with no problem, but once we got there, they didn't let us off the plane right away.  I started getting nervous again, because if I missed the connecting flight to Roanoke, I was screwed.  When we finally got off I super speed-walked through the airport, found my next gate, boarded the plane, and sat down with a huge sigh of relief.  I would make it home that night!  We had a male steward and you could tell he really loved his job, or at least he made us believe he did.  I have never seen someone so excited about pointing out emergency exits and where life vests are located.  He overheard me tell the man I was sitting next to that this was my first time flying alone, and he came out and made a big deal of it and gave me one of those little wing pins that they give to little kids.  It was kind of funny, but also embarrassing.
Waiting to board the plane for Atlanta.
Once we landed in Roanoke I figured out that Fighting Gravity had been on the plane with me.  They were one of the final three groups who competed on America's Got Talent this summer, and they were coming back from a show in Las Vegas.  One of the guys in the group is from my home church in Lynchburg and knows my parents, so we all chatted in the terminal a bit and then headed home.  I think we got in around 11:30 or midnight, I don't even remember.  All I cared about was that I was home and that I would be there for Ashley's wedding!  Which will be the next post...

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