Thursday, December 28

A 3-hour layover

My friend Rebecca thinks her blog is only interesting to her friends and family. People who know her. Usually this is true.

But recently Rebecca got stuck in Denver. Specifically stuck in the Denver airport. As Denver prepares to get another few feet of snow dumped on it, I thought you would enjoy reading something Rebecca wrote about her experience/ordeal. I'd link to her blog, but her blog doesn't do the permalink thing well.

So here's the whole fascinating post.


Thursday, December 21, 2006
MIA in DIA; or, so much for Austin
Corrections: In the previous post, I said that "tomorrow," meaning Wednesday, Kyler and I would be in Austin. In fact, it is now Thursday, and we are in Denver.

When we got on the plane on Wednesday morning, the flight crew mentioned that it was "snowing" in Denver, and since United had cancelled three flights to Denver, we would be taking on extra passengers for an absolutely full flight. We were flying Frontier airlines, where you get the little t.v. in the back of the seat in front of you, where one of your free choices for viewing is a channel showing a map and a plane icon to show approximately where you are, and in which direction you are pointed. When we came near Denver, we circled the airport for awhile in a holding pattern, flying through whiteness--a complete fog out the window.

I was startled to feel something like landing, when out the window it still looked like the same bank of clouds we'd been flying around inside. When I looked closer, I realized we had in fact landed, it's just that absolutely everything on the ground was white. Including the air, it was snowing that hard. It wasn't until sometime this morning that we could see terminal B from terminal A. It didn't take too long to discover that our next flight was cancelled. It took somewhat longer to find the end of the line for rebooking. Kyler called his parents, and before we had even moved up a third of the line, his father had driven to the Austin airport and rebooked us with confirmed seats on a flight this Saturday. We were not yet on the standby list, though, so we stayed put in the line. For a grand total of over five hours.

We weren't concerned during most of this time--we had the phone number of one of Kyler's relatives, plenty of food in my backpack, and stuff to do (work, and a DVD to play in the laptop). It was only when we reached the front of the line that we discovered 1) roads in Denver had been closed for two hours and 2) our checked luggage was not, as one of the Frontier airlines employees had been telling us for hours, under lock and key, safely supervised by the airline, but in fact had been sent out through the carousel and was sitting out in baggage claim with thousands of other bags. The agent told us that "it's chaos down there" and that we had better go retrieve our luggage.

We asked, but then, could we return to the gates with those bags? Well, no. Of course not. So then we were looking down the barrel of spending the night in baggage claim. As it turned out, as the airport closed, they found spare rooms to "check" everyone's checked luggage--we'll have to go get it and actually check it when we're flying out, but in the meanwhile, it's not just sitting out anymore. The rules were relaxed a little, and we were allowed to return to the terminal after taking care of our luggage. Whew.

So, last night was spent sleeping on an airline blanket on the floor between two rows of seats by gate 27. Home sweet home for the time being. This morning, the airport didn't open... and we were told that it wouldn't until tomorrow at noon. Kyler's cousin's street had not been plowed, so he couldn't come to get us... and while we could have made it out to a hotel today, that seemed pretty expensive--plus, while the city and the airport were ensuring that people were provided rides TO these hotels, they told us all that we would be on our own for returning to the airport. While they were telling us that the roads were still dangerous, buses weren't running, and cabs were far and few between.

The kicker is, of course, that in order to be on standby lists for any given day, you have to check in that day. To have a high priority in the standby list, you need to be one of the first ones checked in. Being in a hotel when the airline opens customer service isn't the way to do that. While we have confirmed tickets for Saturday evening... we'd really like to try to get out of here sooner than that...

So, here I am, on an itchy polyesther blanket on the floor again. It's not so bad. We're warm, we're fed, we even have some stuff to do. We watched our movie this afternoon, I got some work done last night and this morning, and Kyler even made a snow angel. I practiced some stretches and yoga. We saw some people relocating the mattresses from the "Admiral's Club" to our terminal... those people didn't really look like they had the authority to be doing that, but hey. Why not. The Red Cross was passing out cots, diapers, snack bags, you name it, too. I'm sure a lot of people really appreciated that. The cots were being rationed out by the time we found the source of them, only for the disabled and elderly.

Say a little prayer for our travels, and hope to see many of you soon.

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