I wrote this post on the day Dallas was finally going to arrive home from Germany. Almost as soon as I hit “publish”, things got really stressful around our house, because Dallas texted me to tell me he’d missed his flight to Atlanta. As I wrote here, this is a looooong story, so settle in.
It wasn’t his fault. Really, it wasn’t. He had an hour and forty minute layover in Newark; he never went in search of the restroom or anything to eat. It took a long time for his suitcase to come off the plane he’d taken from Stockholm to Newark, then he had to go re-check it for his flight to Atlanta. Then, for some reason, even though he never left the secured area at the airport, he had to go back through security to get on his flight. He told me later that the TSA agents were taking their sweet time, acting like they’d rather socialize with each other than do their jobs, so it took him over half an hour just to get through the security line. Then while he was waiting in line at his gate, his plane left early. He was not the only passenger that got left behind.
United told him they could put him on the standby list for their only other flight to Atlanta leaving from Newark that night–other passengers from his original flight had gotten to their counter before him, so some of them were able to get their tickets changed. He went to Delta’s counter, as they were the only other airline flying to Atlanta that night, and they wanted $900 for a one-way ticket there. He called me, panicking, and saying if he had to pay that much for the ticket, he would…he just wanted to come home. One nice thing about that part of New Jersey, however, is its close proximity to New York City. I had the bright idea of checking the New York airports and found him a seat on a Delta flight from LaGuardia Airport to Atlanta for half of what they wanted to fly him out of Newark.
He ended up booking the ticket and getting a last-minute seat on a shuttle van from Newark to LaGuardia. He made it sound like the last time he was that terrified to be a passenger was when he was taking a taxi someplace in Eastern Europe, but he made it to LaGuardia in one piece. He had no idea where his suitcase was and was too peeved at United’s customer service desk to demand they find out where it was while he was still in Newark, so he only had to worry about getting himself and his carry-on through security and to the gate. He even had time to grab a big slice of New York pizza at the airport, which was good because he was going to get into Atlanta way too late for us to go eat someplace after we picked him up.
United’s online customer service through Twitter was top-notch, I will say that–I got in touch with them to try to find out what he should do about his missing luggage. They told me that it was entirely possible his suitcase would beat him to Atlanta if it had gotten on the plane before it took off, and if not, he would be able to contact them to have it sent on to him at the house. They told me to have him go check with their baggage office at Atlanta when he got off his new flight, and sure enough, his suitcase was there waiting for him. We left the house about the time his plane took off from New York, and we got to the Atlanta airport just before he did. The traffic jams started about 35 miles south of the city–I guess there was a Braves game and some kind of Jehovah’s Witness conference in town that day, but we also had to deal with people crossing three lanes at a time to get an entire car length ahead of where they’d previously been, so…
But yeah. We were supposed to have picked him up around 5; instead, we met him at 9. He’s still waiting to hear back from somebody–anybody–about how to get a refund (at least partial) on the flight he missed, because that definitely wasn’t his fault. However, he’d booked it all through Scandinavian Airlines, so even though the Newark to Atlanta leg was on United, he doesn’t know if he’s supposed to talk to them about a refund or what. What was most important at the time was that he made it home.
We’re settling back in. It’s been a little bit of an adjustment for everyone. In about a week and a half we’re leaving to go see my family, with a day/overnight stop in Mount Pleasant so Dallas can do some administrative/academic stuff and we can see some of our friends. I have missed everybody so much, and I’ve missed Michigan. I knew that for sure this winter when I started dreaming about wading into Lake Huron or standing on any of the little bridges over the Chippewa River to look for fish and ducks. I guess you can take the girl out of Michigan, but you can’t take Michigan out of the girl.
It’s going to be awesome to go home and see everybody. I’ll finally get to take Dallas to see some of the cool stuff I got to see in the summers growing up, because it’s not encased in ice. (Fun story: the first time Dallas saw the Mackinac Bridge in person, it was 29 degrees with a wind chill of 19…and it may have been even colder than that where we were standing because we were down close to the lake.)