There I was… up at 3am. My alarm was set for 3:50, but I must have been so excited about being away from work and on a beach in 12 hours, that I couldn’t sleep. I took care of some last minute details, and waited for Jim to get up. He must have been excited, too, because he didn’t wait for the alarm either.
We got to the airport more than 2 hours early, as recommended, and got through security pretty quickly. We found our gate, got some breakfast, and waited patiently (ok, not real patiently) for our flight, scheduled to leave at 7:00am. At some point the airline announced the plane was overbooked and they would give $500 to anyone willing to wait for another flight. Jim and I looked at each other…unfortunately, we knew we couldn’t take advantage of that due to our connecting flight in Charlotte. Little did we know, we should’ve taken the deal!
We got on the plane and found our seats – Jim in the aisle and me in the middle (his long legs always take precedence on planes). There was a man sitting at the window. We all made the obligatory greetings and got settled in. The doors closed, the flight attendants made their announcements, and we were off. Only… we weren’t.
As quickly as our plane exited the gate, it returned to it. Bad news. The pilot announced, “as we left the gate, a small bubble appeared in the tire.” He told us someone would come check it out and determine if they should change it or if we could leave with it. He told us it would be just a few minutes. After about 15 minutes, the pilot came back on and said they were still checking, but thought we’d be able to leave with it, so there wouldn’t be much of a delay. Whew! Good news. After another 20 minutes or so, the pilot announced they had decided to change the tire and that it would take upwards of an hour to get it done. Bad, bad news!! They decided to let us off the plane. When we got to the top of the breezeway, the mechanic told us, “don’t go anywhere, this is only going to take 20-25 minutes.” Pretty good news. We got back on the plane, hoping we could still catch our flight to Aruba. Finally, at 9:30, our flight left. All hope was lost. We knew we’d never make our flight to Aruba. I slept to ease my sorrow.
I woke up about 30 minutes before we landed. The gentleman at the window started chatting about our trip. He had been in Minneapolis for business and lived in Charlotte. When he asked about our trip, and I told him we were supposed to go to Aruba, but would probably be spending the night in Charlotte, he replied, “Well, Charlotte is nice, but it sure isn’t Aruba.” I tried to look on the bright side. I told him if we did stay in Charlotte, we’d possibly get to see some friends who just had a baby, and we’d get to eat at the Waffle House! He thought I was joking. When he realized I wasn’t, he said, “We have a lot nicer restaurants than the Waffle House.” That is true, I’m sure, but we just love the Waffle House.
As we got off the plane, we were told to stop at the gate counter to find out about re-booking our Aruba flight. We waited in line there for about 20 minutes, only to be told that since they couldn’t re-book us, and since we were international, we had to go to the Special Services counter. Ugh! So, we went to find that. We stood in line there for nearly 30 minutes. Once we got to the counter, we were told that since we were on on international flight, we had to go to the main ticket counter to be re-booked. Seriously?!?! We were just a little irate! No one seemed to know what the heck was going on!
We got to the main ticket counter and, fortunately, were the first in line. Unfortunately, we were told the flight from Aruba to Charlotte the next morning (the only flight each day) was also full. As was the one for Saturday. Well, there was no way I was spending my whole spring break in beautiful, romantic Charlotte, NC! She checked other hubs for US Airways, but no one had anything. We told her we heard there was flight from Atlanta to Aruba on Delta the next morning, and told her to check that. She said they don’t usually change airlines, but I think the look on my face at that point made it clear that I didn’t care what usual procedures were, I was getting on plane to Aruba in the next 24 hours or someone would probably DIE! We were booked to Atlanta that afternoon, and on to Aruba the next morning. To compensate for our loss of a day in Aruba, US Airways assured us they would cover our hotel cost in Atlanta and gave us $15 each in food vouchers (which had to be used at the Charlotte airport). Wow! That certainly makes up for a lost day on the beach! They would pay people 500 bucks to voluntarily miss the flight, but wouldn’t give us a dime for being forced to miss a flight? I better be getting something more than a hotel room and crappy food!
We made it to Atlanta with no glitches, thank goodness. Well, Jim did have to go through security twice… he forgot to empty his water bottle. Good thing no one else was in line! When we arrived in Atlanta, we were told to speak with the supervisor at the gate. This time, surprisingly, everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Mark, the supervisor, arranged for our hotel, gave us each another $15 in food vouchers (that had to be used at the airport or our hotel), and told us there would be a shuttle out front of the airport.
Before we left, we checked in at the Delta gate. The guy there tried pulling up our file, but couldn’t find us on the flight. UGH!!!! He asked for a confirmation number, although I’d told him 3 times all I had was the itinerary sheet the desk lady at US Air in Charlotte gave me. I finally said, “Just tell me… are there seats available on this flight?” He said there were. I asked, “Will this paper get me on board?” He said yes. So, I got the 800 number to call for confirmation and left. I had definitely spent enough time in airports for one day!
When we left the airport, we tried finding our transportation to the hotel, but there was no Renaissance Hotel on the calling board. Ugh! Double Ugh! Would we ever get where we were supposed to be??? Finally a van pulled up to pick up other passengers and we saw Renaissance on the side. Yippee! We hopped on and away we went.
As we neared our hotel, we saw a wonderful sight… a sign for none other than… a Waffle House! We decided to spend our vouchers on dessert at the hotel, and walked over to the Waffle House for dinner. It was a delicious meal and our server was friendly (though I think it might have been his first day – he couldn’t quite figure out our order).
On the way back to our hotel, I confessed to Jim. On Monday, on my way to lunch, a ladder was leaning over the sidewalk. I walked under it. He said, “So this is all your fault, huh? I guess that’s what you get for walking under a ladder.” Sure, it was bad luck to miss our flight to Aruba, but if we hadn’t, we never would have been able to eat at the Waffle House. There’s always an upside.