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Well I’m Leaving on a Concord, Don’t Know When . . . I’m Back!

September 10, 2009 Leave a comment

For one who now cannot stand to travel, I certainly did a lot more of it than I thought I would this Summer. There was a time when I used to love to fly, but these days it just isn’t fun anymore. Thus, when I needed to reserve a flight on short notice several months back, I approached the task with great trepidation.

Now don’t get me wrong: for my nephew’s bris I would gladly overpay for a flight that would take me twice as long as it should. I was just hoping that I wouldn’t have to go to such lengths. Naturally, the first place I checked for a flight was with Southwest Airlines, but their prices weren’t all that great, and every time I checked out different flight times, the cheaper flights were gone. So it was with some skepticism that I then checked Air Tran.

To my great surprise, not only did I find a flight that was almost half the price of the cheapest one on Southwest, but it was also direct both ways. This was a very good thing, because as much as I thought I would go to any length to get to the bris, I’m not sure I would have been able to handle flying Air Tran with layovers. You see, there’s a really good reason why I didn’t want to check Air Tran, and though this story happened over four years ago, I still shudder when I think about it.

The time was President’s Day weekend, 2005. My wife and I had decided it would be nice to visit our family down in Florida over the extended weekend, and since we were going to be renting a car, we chose to save a few bucks on the tickets. This meant that we would have a short layover in Atlanta on the way down and back. Thank goodness we didn’t opt for long layovers.

On the way down, our flight out of Baltimore was delayed a little over an hour, but seeing as how we had a two hour layover in Atlanta, we didn’t think much of it. In the end, our 6 p.m. flight left at 7:15, but that still didn’t pose a problem. No, the problem came when we got to Atlanta. Our connecting flight had been delayed somewhere down the line and was “on schedule” to arrive two hours late. So, instead of our connecting flight being at 9:45, it was to be around 11:45. Well, our connection airplane didn’t actually land until 11:45. We finally left the gate at 12:15, and woke up my brother at 2 a.m. Having left for BWI airport at 3:30 p.m. the day before, and finally landed at 1:30 a.m. in Fort Lauderdale, that put our overall travel time at 10 hours. That was the good part.

The best word to describe our return trip would be “Nightmare”. Yes, with a capital “N”. We left for the airport that day at 1 p.m. Our flight was to be at 3:15, but inclement weather (of course) delayed our airplane’s previous flight for two-and-a-half hours. It didn’t even leave from the other airport until an hour after we were supposed to leave from ours! At one point, concerned that we would miss our 6:30 connection in Atlanta, we enquired as to the status of that flight and any other later flights from Atlanta to Baltimore. The answer: No, there weren’t any more flights to BWI after ours, but that was okay, since our connecting airplane was already three-and-a-half hours behind schedule!

Well, as luck would have it, due to missed flight windows and all, we didn’t actually take-off from Fort Lauderdale until a little after 6:30, and so when we arrived in Atlanta, we figured we would actually have a shorter layover than originally planned. Were we ever wrong. We ended up waiting for almost six agonizing hours until, at last, our connecting flight landed at 12:50. We finally unlocked the door to our house at 3:15 a.m., for a grand total travel time of 24 hours and 15 minutes!

As bad as that ordeal was, I still smile when I think about it. Now you must be thinking, what could I ever have to smile about, right? However, one of the funniest things I have ever seen was during this trip. No, it wasn’t the 45-minute (instead of two-minute) epic fail test of the Atlanta airport’s fire alarm at 11:30 p.m. While all of us laughed like drunken idiots every time the alarm started again and again . . . and again, it was really just because we all thought how fitting for us to have to endure that as well. No, what was truly special and unforgettable was this: the husband and wife Maryland State Troopers who were laughing their butts off while watching a DVD. It wasn’t that they looked silly, that they had funny laughs, or that it was just plain weird to see State Troopers laughing—I’ve seen stranger and funnier sights. So what made this sight so hysterical that it could be the saving grace of such a travesty of a trip, you ask? Well, after about 40 minutes of the cackles and guffaws, I worked up the courage to walk over and ask them what was so funny. While laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes, the man swiveled his LCD screen toward me so I could see. They were watching C.O.P.S.

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