After a night (well, a few hours actually) of listening to the refrigerator and heater/AC unit tick (we didn’t wanna sleep anyway, right?), we crawled out of bed to get ready for our trip home.
Another 12 year old picked us up in his mom’s taxi (that’s the only explanation) and we headed off to the airport. He was a very nice taxi-boy, and had even worked in Phoenix for a couple of months last summer, during which he says he lost 80 pounds and promised to never return. He dropped us off at the airport right behind the only other car going to the airport (this is how horror movies start) and helped us carry our bags and boxes in to the counter where we DIDN’T HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE!! (did we mention the horror movie?)
We knew we were at the right terminal, because there is no left/wrong/other terminal. Small airport indeed. At this point we were wondering if the Cessna was going to be too full for us to catch the flight out and wondered if Lowell was gonna come walking in from the hangar.
After speeding through security (again, no line!) things got really crazy! The food court/newstand was clear at the opposite end of the gates from where our plane was… and we needed some breakfast desperately! Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to get from the first gate to the last (ie from 1 to 2).
When flying standby, you have to watch the flights to see which you might be able to catch, and have the patience and schedule to jump to a different destination/time in order to get where you’re going. We caught the early flight because it looked really good getting into Denver, and pretty good getting from Denver to Phoenix. And sho’ ’nuff! We caught the flight (on a real plane even!) to Denver and even got to sit together. (newlyweds, am I right?)
Then things went crazy.
Somewhere over Utah the weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed. If not for the courage.. oh wait.
The flight got bumpy and therefore Dee’s arm got bruised. Little planes make Cindy nervous, especially when they don’t stay at a consistent altitude. The weather in SanFran was definitely not the same weather that we left in Denver, but you gotta figure that they’re used to rain and fog and clouds and stuff like that in
Seattle San Francisco. We landed safely at Terminal 3 and hopped the shuttle to Terminal 1 to catch the flight back home. Yay us!
We really love rain. I mean love. rain. Which explains why we live in Phoenix, M-I-Right??? We found a $50 sandwich and a $12 bottle of water and sat to stare out the window and watch the scenery that we never get in the ol’ hometown and wait for our flight.
As in most airports, finding power for your iPad, iPhone, iMac, iAndroid, iLaptop, iVacuumCleaner (or whatever other electronic gadget you have) is very much like fighting the crowds at Walmart on Black Friday. We found this airport to be surprisingly different. There were even a few seats right in front of the little status board (which mostly says “you’ll never get on this flight”) that had power attached to the bench, and those seats were mostly empty. Crazy!!
What we didn’t know is that those seats were mostly empty because the people whose overly large behinds would normally be in them were standing in line at the “customer service” counter (draw your own conclusions as to why that phrase is in quotes) because their flights had been delayed.
Being the savvy standby flyers that we are, we keep an eye on the aforementioned status board, another on the united app on our iDevice, and another on the united.com employee (or family thereof) page. Imagine our confusion (aka outrage) when the flight to Phoenix disappeared from the app and the website.
The empty seats started making sense.
We started looking for other flights that might get us back to our abandoned cats before thanksgiving, but “canceled” was quickly becoming the word of the day. We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t fly when it rains???
As we’ve done before, we started looking for alternative routes to home. Unfortunately, this time there was not a route through New Jersey, or anywhere else, that would get us home. And when flights start canceling, future flights start filling up. Out options were to camp out in SF for the weekend, or drive. Seriously, the flights were full for the next couple of days.
Remember 9/11? I remember hearing about people at a conference in Utah who actually BOUGHT cars to be able to get back home because the airports were closed and the rental agencies were out of cars. Dee was ready to purchase. Cindy would have gone for it but Dee was only ready to purchase a scooter. 🙂
We finally found a flight to LA, where we figured we could rent a car to drive back home. So back on the bus to terminal 1. And… guess who we (ok… Dee) sat by (across the aisle from)!!!!
You’ll never guess!
She was very awesome and gracious and famous and stuff. 🙂 She also was tired cuz she worked all night (we know that cuz we bonded on the bus ride), so we settled for the subtle stalker photo you see here.
We actually did catch the flight to LA, probably cuz so many people missed their connecting flights in to SanFran cuz of the drizzle, and only had to sit on the runway for 30 minutes before taking off! (yay?)
As soon as we landed we started mowing people down so we could get to the Hertz rental place. Dee was in no mood to buy a car by this time. As usual, each rental agent who finished with a customer immediately went on break or retired and left us standing there wishing we had chosen any other agency. (yes, another :-/ )
So in the pouring rain (which you can drive in but evidently can’t fly in) we headed off from LA to… Buckeye (there’s no abbreviation for Buckeye). And 23 hours later, at about 2:30 AZ time, we made it home.
A rather rough ride home, but it was such a fun drive up, and it’s so good to see Dee’s home and family and to see Stormy and Spenser settling in up there in the land of the icy/windy spud. Right now it’s time for us to get some much deserved sleep, and to start looking for cheap direct flights for our next visit. Anybody have Lowell’s number?