Adventures in air travel

6:45 PM, October 16

OK, this is irritating.  I’m sitting in Café Patachou (a fine place to be stranded, by the way) in  the central area of the Indianapolis International Airport, waiting for my delayed flight to La Guardia.

I booked the flight through Northwest, and when I went online at school today to get a boarding pass, information came up that the flight was delayed from 6:40 to 7:40 PM.  This didn’t bother me too much, since some more time at home to sort laundry and finish packing my carry-on offered welcome relief.

So I called my student who was driving me to the airport (in my car) and told him to come by an hour later than originally agreed.  No problem.

Once home, I checked the flight status online in case of further delay.  But now the news was we’d be departing at 6:48 PM, only eight minutes.  Yikes!  I called Colin and said get right over, and packed like a madman, all the while suspecting that 6:48PM was unlikely, but nevertheless feeling it was essential to get there soon just in case.

On the way to the airport, we called Northwest and the automated voice announced at 7:10 PM takeoff.  OK, better safe than sorry.  Not enough time to hit a non-airport place for dinner on the way, but what the heck.

At the airport, there was no Northwest flight to LaGuardia listed at all.  Not even a Northwest counter.

WTF?

A closer look revealed a Delta flight with the same number and (original) departure time, headed to LGA.  A trek to the Delta counter brought me the Delta sign including, in small letters, “now serving Northwest.”  A friendly agent at the counter confirmed that the Delta flight was the Northwest fight, which is actually operated by Piannacle, whoever they are, anyway.

And now the flight was scheduled for 7:50 PM.  So on to Café Patachou for an omelet (delicious, by the way, and the service friendly and efficient).

I hopped on to the Indy airport’s free wireless.  That’s nice, free wireless.  But the screens one goes through to find the button to log on are, clearly, purposely confusing, and try to seduce you into downloading movies or games or who knows what.  Eventually I found the very small hidden button allowing me to log on.  Triumph, and no money inadvertently spent.  Heck yah, I’ll navigate a maze for free wireless.

As long as I was web surfing while eating, the connection was great. Lightning fast. But once I decided to write this post?  Barely any service.  Wordpress took forever to load, there was only one little bar in the connection icon instead of a bunch, and I gave up and switched to Word.  And started writing this post with the words, ‘This is irritating.”

9:00 PM

Now we’re in the air.  I left the restaurant at 7:03 PM, plenty of time to get through security and to the gate for the 7:50 departure.

But now the departure sign said we’d be leaving at 7:20 PM.

WTF?

Just a touch worried that I might miss the flight after all this, the stronger emotion was a healthy skepticism.  But still I moved “with alacrity” as we who assisted at est events were once urged to do.

The security line was, to my relief, like a ghost town.  No waiting.  It still took a while to get through, since I travel with a bipap machine (for sleep apnea) which always has to be tested for explosive residue.  The woman manning the xray machine just sat there looking at something in one of my bags for so long, and with such a blank expression, that her colleague at the metal detector asked, “Are you sleeping over there?” (My question exactly, but I didn’t think it prudent to make any antagonistic comments.)  Once they finally were done with me (the bipap still just a bipap), a very brisk walk took me to the gate. 7:15  and the boarding process was just getting under way.

Hah! I was right.

Once in that tube you walk through to actually get to the airplane, gridlock.  No movement.  The captain came out and told us that we couldn’t leave the runway until 8:15 and that there was no air conditioning on the plane and it wouldn’t be fair to make us sit in the plane under those conditions.  (Well, that’s a lot better than the horror stories of hours on the runway I’ve heard.)

So back to the gate area.  We finally took of a bit after 8:30 PM.

Meanwhile, I ran into a colleague from DePauw whom I like very much.  We had a great chat diagnosing some of the many ills of DePauw’s money-draining purchase of the Walden Inn in Greencastle and the Inn’s current ineffective management.  That settled, we moved on to what each of us would be doing and attending in New York this fall break week.  It was a great way to pass the time.

All my problems should have such a happy ending.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Adventures in air travel

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