How to Survive 24 Hours in an Airport 3/3

Alright. Considering I’ve been to Chicago and back for another work trip since I started writing about this Dallas airport mishap, I think it’s time to finish.

So after being grounded because of a storm, and then having to spend the night in Dallas, I was confident that I would make it home on my newly booked afternoon flight.

After spending the night in a hotel, I woke up feeling happy and well-rested. I ate a complimentary breakfast, asked for late check out, and started teleworking from my hotel desk. The morning was going swell …until I found out that Tallahassee was experiencing a flash flood and Tornado Warning. Bret texted me to let me know he was home and taking care of the cats, in fact, he was trapped in our bathroom with both of them for the duration of the Tornado Warning. I missed him, and I wanted to get home, so I hoped the weather would pass soon.

I caught the free shuttle to the airport at noon. I had three hours before my flight so after I went through security, I was looking for a good place to eat. I couldn’t find anything with quality vegetarian options in my terminal, but by now I really had this non-alphabetical tram memorized (seriously – I’d explained it to newbies multiple times). When I realized my gate didn’t have any good veggie options, I remembered a Bennigan’s in D, so I hopped on the tram for the 724th time:

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And ended up getting a really yummy salad:

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I’d hoped everything would be smooth and normal while I waited for my flight.

Instead, things were weird and disorganized. Other flights were delayed. There were multiple gate changes. One pilot and flight attendant were confused about what plane they were getting on and where they were flying to. At some point there was a mechanical problem and a plane had to de-board. When they made it back to the waiting area, there was an annoucement about having to go to another terminal to board another flight and that they could board with their photo ID if they lost their boarding passes.

I struck up a conversation with other passengers who had been waiting to get home for 24 hours as well. Most of them were in good spirits. When I realized how many people were flying standby and waiting for a seat, I was glad I booked when I did. Everyone who waited on the flight last night couldn’t get a spot on this flight because it was already full. I was just so grateful to have a ticket with a seat number on it.

When it got close to time for me to board, I really thought my flight was going to get delayed.  All the signs were there: an unstaffed gate, the crackle of the announcement speaker with no annoucement to follow, and then the flight disappeared from the flight board. I was preparing to be disappointed. There’s nothing you can do. Stay calm. You will be home eventually.

I was clearly worried, though. So much so that I literally cut my hand open while trying to open a water bottle that I had bought for my flight. It would not open. I took it back to the store where I’d purchased it and said it was “defective” but the guy in line behind me was able to open it. Great. I still had a napkin wrapped over my bleeding hand.

Clearly, stress was getting the best of me. It worked out, though. Our plane arrived and we were allowed to board. It was a small plane and I felt spoiled rotten to have one of those seats on the “one” row — it doubled as a window AND aisle seat 🙂

When I sat on my seat, though, it leaned forward and the whole cushion came out. Something was wrong. I tried to fix it, but I noticed a little piece was missing, and then I noticed the other seats had little straps that mine did not have. I thought about saying something to a flight attendant, but I realized that this was the ONLY seat on the plane that wasn’t taken. It was my only way home. So, I said absolutely nothing.

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See the bandaid? Don’t worry. That’s from my water bottle, not the seat.

And then, within only a few minutes, we were up in the air.

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I loved being able to see the shadows on the ground from all these little puffy (storm-free) clouds:

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I could not have been happier to see that Tallahassee “skyline” in the distance:

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I made it 🙂 I was so happy to home. And now I’m even happier because I don’t have any more trips planned in 2014. Let the most wonderful time of the year begin…

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