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Monday, January 03, 2005

Roundtrip to Baltimore

Now that I’ve returned to DC from a wonderful 11-day vacation, I can sit down and reflect back on a great holiday season. My vacation, however, did not start off smoothly. I hopped the Metro and a bus en route to Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) after work on Dec. 22. My flight wasn’t scheduled till 1020pm, so I planned on relaxing a bit at the airport, catching up on some reading (Men’s Health) and phone calls. I arrived at BWI a lil after 630pm and quickly headed to the Southwest Airlines gates, hoping to catch an earlier flight; it was full, however, so I found a soft seat and made myself comfortable.

Around 930pm, the flight before mine had yet to arrive, making me slightly nervous. Then, at 1002pm, a Southwest employee announced the earlier plane had broken down, meaning the last flight (mine) would be delayed an hour to let the preceding flight’s passengers take the next available plane. If this sounds confusing, I apologize. I’m not too experienced in writing about air travel delays. Anyway, the significance of announcing the hour delay at 1002pm is BWI’s restaurants/gift shops all close at 10pm, meaning the only food available was located in the main terminal (roughly a 10-minute walk before having to go through security checkpoints again). After begging the gift shop worker to sell me a Snickers (to which she responded in a thick accent, “No. Sah-wee. We cloze.”), I checked the ground for large crumbs before strolling down the hallway in search of a kinder vendor. I found one a few gates down who gladly sold me two Snickers bars (one peanut, one almond). At the time I had no idea that food would have to last me a long time.

We finally began boarding the plane at 1120pm, just a few minutes before I should’ve arrived in Manchester, N.H. I called my friend Steve, who’d been up since 5am, and told him I would be in NH around 1230am. As our plane became airborne, I settled into my row of seats (it was a pretty empty flight due to its late departure time) and tried to sneak a nap. Around 1230am, the pilot requested passengers to turn off all electronic devices, return their seat backs to an upright position, blah blah blah. I went back to sleep just before the pilot again woke me, this time saying it was currently too foggy to land in Manchester, so we’d be circling the airport until it cleared. My fav line of his was, “Don’t worry, folks, we’ve got plenty of fuel.”

An hour later, the pilot informed us it was even foggier than before. So we turned around and flew back to Baltimore. Let me write that again. We turned around and flew back to Baltimore. Now I’ve never been a fan of Baltimore (aka DC’s dirty cousin), so hearing the pilot utter those words was like a dentist telling me I’d need my wisdom teeth taken out again. So I arrived back in Baltimore at 245am, wishing I’d parachuted above Manchester when I had the chance. I called my friend Steve, who by now was halfway home (he lives more than an hour from Manchester), and told him the bad news. The flight was re-scheduled for 7am, leaving me four hours to find a nice place in the airport to hang myself. I instead found six empty seats and passed out, face-down in a tiny airplane pillow the nice people of Southwest handed out. There were no blankets available because the preceding flight (the passengers who stole our airplane) had already taken all the blankets. Luckily no holiday brawls ensued.

I woke up at 530am, looking mighty cool curled up in the fetal position as dozens of travelers stared at me. Instead of travel vouchers for the ridiculous inconvenience, Southwest elected to hand out meal vouchers instead. That seems about right. I collected mine, devoured an egg sandwich and boarded the 7am flight, hoping to never again fly roundtrip to Baltimore in three hours.


At 10:41 AM, Blogger T-Rock said...

Meal vouchers?!?!?
Oh no, you use that creative mind of yours to write a strongly worded letter, my friend.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Gregg M. Schmidt said...

Hold up - They need to give you a $250 voucher for future flights my friend. If you don't know how to do it you should call my Mom...she's very nice and respectful on the phone but will make sure that you get your $250 - a hot flight attendant and a non-bumpy flight next time.

At 9:09 AM, Blogger J-Mazz said...

Epilogue-- I received a letter from SWA yesterday. Inside were two roundtrip tickets to anywhere Southwest flies. They expire in December. I knew SWA would come through.


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