Sunday, December 24, 2006

Travel Fun

Okay, things didn't quite work out like they were supposed to. I got to the Denver airport over two hours before I was supposed to leave on Friday. I figured that would be plenty of time. Wrong.

Flights had been suspended since around noon on Wed. and weren't resumed until noon on Friday. My plane was scheduled to leave at 3:20 on Friday and, unlike a lot of flights, it had not be canceled or delayed. But when I got to the airport, the place was a refugee camp. The lines for the check-in counter were horrendous. Far worse however was the line to get through security -- it literally wrapped around the entire airport twice, and it took over an hour just to get up to the point where you could then wait in line for another 20 minutes to get screened. They had no mechanism to separate out people who had flights leaving soon, and for that matter no one tending the lines at all. It's amazing that it wasn't complete chaos. By the time I got checked in, made it through security, and took the train to my concourse, my gate had been closed. If I had made there just ten minutes faster, I would have gotten on the flight since, unlike most people trying to escape Denver, I had a confirmed ticket. All that shit for nothing.

The best they could do was to get me a 8 am flight through Detroit (my original connection) to Greenville. So I left and came back the next morning, this time giving myself three hours. Security was just as bad, but it ended up that the 8 am flight was postponed until 10:10, so there was no rush. However, because the flight was delayed, I couldn't make my connection in Detroit. The next flight from Detroit to Greenville left at 9:30 pm, giving me a nearly 7 hour layover. I was really very lucky that I was able to get on the flight to Detroit at all, since I had been put on standby, and a lot of people on standby weren't getting anywhere because there was no room left on any of the flights. At one point, there were over 5000 people stranded at DIA; many of the people I talked to had been there since Wed. Some of them won't get to where they're going until after Christmas.

All's well that ends well I suppose. I spent over 17 hours in commute yesterday, which did not make me a happy camper. The only consolation is that I got put in a first class seat from Denver to Detroit, and given my frustrations, I was more than happy to take full advantage of the situation and run up Northwest's food and booze bill as much as I could. And I also figure that when I missed my original flight, some poor soul who had been stranded since Wed. and had been placed on standby was able to get a seat that he otherwise wouldn't have had, and therefore he got to make it home to see his family. If you are that person, Merry Christmas.