Monday, May 19, 2008

two places at once

This story will probably be told and retold at our family gatherings for years to come. By typing it here, all I'll have to do in the future is Google it and read aloud.

My wife and I needed to be in the Washington area for our daughter's college convocation ceremony on Friday afternoon and then back in Knoxville for our son's high school graduation on Saturday morning. The convocation was like a graduation except just for the students in our daughter's field of study. We chose to miss our son's baccalaureate Mass on Friday evening and to skip our daughter's massive university-wide graduation ceremony on Saturday because of the scheduling conflict. Only one flight on the schedule left Dulles Airport after the college convocation but before the high school graduation. I booked two tickets on it months ago.

We spent the morning helping our daughter move out of her dorm room. We had lunch with several members of our extended family and got to the arena with time to spare. After the convocation, we headed out to Dulles for our 9:55 p.m. flight to Knoxville. En route, I called the airline's toll-free number and found out that the departure was delayed until 10:54. They somehow think it's better to claim the flight is only going to be 59 minutes late instead of an hour. When we got to the airport, our flight was missing from the "Departures" board. Gone. Not there. No mention. It was as if our plane didn't exist. We went to the ticket counter and waited. Another traveler was asking about the same flight. It was about 9:15 p.m. when we were told that our flight was now estimated to depart at 12:05 a.m. We needed a guarantee that the flight would not be canceled, which they couldn't give us. The clerk told us that the plane was not yet at Dulles. In fact, it had not even left whatever city it was coming from. Manchester, perhaps? The clerk told us to come back in half an hour for an update. We found some unoccupied chairs near a rest room and sat down to wait.

Half an hour later, we returned to the ticket counter. The message on the kiosk screens said that they had closed at 9:45. It would have been nice if the ticket clerk had mentioned that to me at 9:15. After a few minutes I caught the attention of another ticket clerk who was just passing by the counter. She said they were in fact closed and that she really couldn't help me but after listening to our pathetic story she would see what she could find out. She said our flight had been pushed back even more. They were now estimating that it would depart around 12:30 or 1:00 a.m.

We had to make a tough decision. Do we rent a car and start driving? It's an eight-hour drive. It would take us the better part of an hour to get a rental car. It's now 10:00, which means we could be on the road by 11:00 and home in Knoxville around 7:00 a.m. It's already been a long day and could be a very long night. Or we could put all our eggs in the airline basket and wait and hope and pray that the flight doesn't get canceled. At this point, a plane would theoretically put us at McGhee Tyson Airport around 2:30 a.m. and back home by 3:00.

To be continued...

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Blogger Byron said...

Oh Lord Frank, I feel for you buddy. There is nothing worse than being trapped like that.

Anonymous Billy said...

As entertaining as this is to read, hearing you tell it on the radio was even better!!


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