A cat by any other name

Flying the (un)friendly skies



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Meow to me

It is early morning as I write this and I am bleary from lack of sleep. I know that both my brother-in-law and I need sleep, desperately, but the presence of a toddler and a six-month-old in this little rented cottage will prevent us from getting any more than a few hours in what is left of the night.

I am in Lakeside, Ohio, a tiny resort town owned by the Methodist Church, located on Lake Erie. My parents have been here all week and they're the ones who made the cottage rental arrangements. My two sisters - each with their respective child - flew out on Wednesday morning. However, both my brothers-in-law (henceforth referred to as Bil-1 and Bil-2.....1 being married to my older sister, and 2 being married to the younger. There.) and I had to work, so we couldn't get out til yesterday afternoon.

We all flew into the wrong airport - my sisters, the Bil's, and I. That was our first mistake, and it wasn't really anyone's fault. My older sister thought my Dad has said Columbus, when he really said Cleveland. Our second mistake, apparently, was in flying on United Airlines and making a connection in Denver.

Both Bil's and I had planned to arrive in Denver about an hour before our connection to Columbus, figuring that would be plenty of time to meet and then wander down to whichever gate we needed to go to. Bil-2 arrived in Denver only fifteen minutes late. Bil-1 arrived nearly an hour late, but it turned out alright because the flight to Columbus was postponed another half an hour, so both of them had ample time to get there. I, however, arrived in Denver nearly ninety minutes late, and only the fact that the delayed plane *from* Denver was right....but I need to back up a bit on this story.

When I got into Sacramento, the flight monitors showing gates and departure times weren't working. As usual, they had too few check-in attendants for the sheer volume of people trying to catch their flights on time. Throw in some angry customers who now have to scramble for alternate flights because our plane was (originally) supposed to take off about forty minutes late, and the storm begins to brew. I had my own reasons for impending panic. The car reservation in Columbus was in my name, I had no way to contact the Bil's, they had no way to contact my dad, and if I didn't make it to Denver and they didn't realize that I wasn't on that plane, they'd be stranded in Columbus for the night. So I was more than a bit relieved when the flight attendants announced, once we were airborne, that the flight to Columbus had been delayed. Even with the now-hour late start, even with the fact that we were to land at one end of the terminal and I'd have about half an hour to dash to the other end, I was no longer worried.

That is, until we landed, and then had to sit on the runway for twenty minutes because the plane sitting in the gate hadn't left yet. Now, I'm a fairly charitable person in most cases, and I understand that scheduling things at a major airport must be difficult. But when you take a plane packed with people who are already an hour late, half of whom have missed their connections, and you tell them that despite the obvious presence of numerous empty gates around us, we have to cool our heels on the runway and the *rest* of us are going to miss our connections too....well, lets just say that people were mad. Furious. Me included.

One of the perks of being a frequent flyer is that I can pick my seats near the front of the plane, so I was right there when we finally did park at the gate. I took off from that plane like a bat out of...well, you know...because as far as I still knew, the flight I had to catch was at the far end of the terminal and I had less than ten minutes to get there in time and I knew even then that there was just no way. Luckily, Bil-2 had the presence of mind to be standing right at the door when I burst through it, suitcase careening madly at my heels, and he waved frantically until I noticed. Turned out that the gate I needed was right next to the one I left, and he assumed - and correctly - that I'd have just bowled by it.

So I made the plane. Barely. If I'd checked any luggage I would have been out of luck, but frequent travel has taught me how to pack light, so I was saved. Several hours later we arrived in Ohio and after collecting the Bil's luggage, we zipped off to get our car and head off to Lakeside.

This is where mistake number one really came into play. If we'd gone to Cleveland, the trip would have been about one and a half hours shorter via car. Ah well. We drove. By the time we left the airport it was after 1am. By the time we reached the cottage it was after 4am. The drive consisted of a lot of deserted highway, and then a lot of two-lane country roads. Straight roads. In the dark. We were overtired and getting punchy, giddy from exhaustion.

But we're here. Despite the best attempts of fates and United Airlines, we made it, my entire family under one roof. Lack of sleep notwithstanding, it's going to be a beautiful day.