Since last summer, when I started travelling by air to training opportunities for work, I have had good luck with making connections. I had a narrow escape last month, where we were nearly an hour late departing from Houston, resulting in my friend and me making a mad dash through Detroit Airport to make our connection home. We were lucky that the plane was being held, and the door was closed as soon as we boarded.
My luck ran out on Monday with my flight from Detroit to Atlanta. The flying sardine can got me to Detroit without a hitch, and I made it to my gate with time to spare. However, the flight was overbooked and the gate agent was looking for volunteers for a flight at 3:30 in exchange for a cash voucher valid for a Delta flight in the next year. After some contemplation, I volunteered for the later flight, and as an additional bonus, I was booked on the next flight departing at 10:00 AM.
The flight took off on time, and for the first hour, everything went smoothly. Around that time the captain announced that due to storms in Atlanta we would be in a holding pattern, and as a result we would be about a half an hour late. I shrugged and went back to the documentary I was watching. Half an hour later, the captain came on again and said that the storm was not letting up, and we were unable to get to the front of the line, therefore we would divert to Nashville to refuel, and then proceed to Atlanta. Fifteen minutes after that, we were told that instead of Nashville, we were flying to Huntsville, Alabama.
The hour that followed was the scariest I have ever spent on an airplane. I have long gotten over my fear of flying, and turbulence does not bother me as it used to. The approach to Huntsville was beset by nearly constant turbulence, shaking the plane so violently that I thought I could see the fuselage torque slightly. I let out an audible sigh of relief when we finally touched down and made our way to the designated area where the plane would be refueled.
As the handful of people actually bound for Huntsville disembarked, many of my fellow passengers were concerned about making their connections. We waited on the tarmac for an hour and a half while the plane was refueled, a visual inspection was performed, and a new flight plan was prepared and sent to the flight crew. During this time, other planes parked next to us, were refueled and departed in quick succession. While this struck many of us as curious, it was the last straw for one passenger sitting near me, who began complaining loudly so that all may hear him and know his displeasure. The flight attendants or the captain could not placate him, and all I could think of was, “You are not the only person affected by this delay. The pilots can control neither the weather nor the air traffic around Atlanta. Obnoxiously complaining will not change the situation, so shut up and relax!” I was prudent enough to know that vocalizing these thoughts would only serve to make a bad situation worse.
Flying out of Huntsville was significantly smoother than flying in, and the thirty-minute flight to Atlanta was uneventful. As we touched down, I began singing the chorus of the Civil War song “Marching through Georgia.” After taxiing to the terminal, we were met with one more aggravation as the ground crew took another ten minutes to reach our gate and guide the plane in. All told, we arrived in Atlanta three and a half hours late, and I took my time leaving the plane to allow others to disembark and make their connections. One positive of the experience for me was that my suitcase had flown down on my original flight and was waiting for me in the baggage office.
Furthermore, that was just the flight down. Stay tuned for the conclusion of my adventure to Atlanta, where I try to make my way home!
© 2017 by Benjamin Goodrich