When I was a kid our family would travel by train from Montpelier to Hartford, Conn., once a year to visit our grandparents. Somewhere along the trip we had to change trains; I think it was in White River Junction or Springfield, Mass. Because there were seven of us, I was always terrified that somebody, probably me, would get on the wrong train and be left forever in White River or Springfield. Conductors were herding us and yelling “Hurry” and the whole operation was terrifying to me.
We recently did a Midwest tour, visiting our two daughters in Kansas City and Cincinnati. The first flight, from Hartford to Washington, D.C. to Kansas City, was pretty smooth and uneventful.
Coming home was another story.
Our daughter dropped us off at the Cincinnati airport (which is actually in Kentucky) at 10:30 a.m. for a nice relaxing wait for our flight to Philadelphia which was the only way we could get to Hartford.
There was some garble on the public address system and I thought I heard the words “Philadelphia” and “canceled.” All of a sudden our waiting area was filled with angry people, some in wheelchairs, the rest with cranky babies. After a long rebooking process, they told us they were bringing in another plane and we would get on that and go to Philadelphia. Someone asked the man at the desk what was happening and he said “bad weather.” As we were taking off the pilot gets on the horn and says, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re going to try this one more time. The weather just got worse in Philadelphia.” Now, I don’t want to hear the word “try” from the pilot of a huge airliner. I want to hear we “will” take off. He then gets back on and says “The ceiling is getting lower, and is about 1,000 feet right now.” I know what a thousand feet is, buddy, I used to work at Sikorsky Aircraft and I KNOW what a low ceiling means: It means you going to bump around a lot and probably throw up within a short time.
As we’re neared Philadelphia, we were told that if we had connecting flights, we should go to F10, and then they added that you can’t get to F10; you have to take a bus. We find the bus and a guy says we need to get to B14, the bus only goes to A gates. Then he gets angry and says, yes, we should get on the bus and it will take us to B gates and then he gets mad again. The bus came and took us to B14. I made a quick visit to the restroom and returned to find me husband frantically waving me to hurry. Then, a man was announcing something incomprehensible. After he yelled “C as in cat” and then something that sounded like 23. My husband had commandeered one of those carts but there was only room for one and he gallantly gave up his seat to me and took off running the mile plus to C23.
Philly airport is the largest most crowded I have ever seen and our cart operator was in no hurry. She slowed down to chat with other cart operators all the way. “Hey, Lucille, How’s that hip of yours doing?” “Yo, Billy, Looking good!”
Then the pilot comes on again and says “There will be a short delay because they just found out they have to “turn” the runway around. What the heck does that mean? More sitting on the tarmac. Finally the pilot, in his cheeriest voice, announced we would be taking off and headed for Hartford in minutes. And we did.
At Hartford, we went to the baggage claim area and wondered why the carousel wasn’t moving. That, as it turned out, was because we were at the Delta carousel and we should have been at USAir. So we ran over there just as someone was grabbing our bag off the belt because it hadn’t been claimed yet.
We snatched it up, met our shuttle and picked up our car within minutes.
I realized that it was 5:15 p.m., exactly the time we were supposed to arrive when we booked the trip three months ago.