What an adventure (and I use that term somewhat loosely). There are no non-stop flights from Detroit to Salk lake City, and so my flight Monday was on Continental via Houston. I arrived in Houston as did a major storm system (complete with torrential rain, lightning storms, tornado warnings, and … you get the picture). Here’s roughly how things played out …
5:00 pm: we arrive (late) in Houston, with minutes to make my connection at Gate C33.
5:05 pm: arrive at Gate C33 to be told that the inbound plane had not yet left San Antonio, and it will be at least an hour before we leave.
5:07 pm: bump into several folks (from Paris, Bogotá, Michigan, and later Florida) also heading to MAX in Salt Lake City, our own mini pre-conference.
5:40 pm: announcement, gate change, we head over to gate C38.
5:55 pm: oops, another gate change, this time gate C44.
6:45 pm: and yet another gate change, now it’s gate C37.
7:30 pm: lots of flights are being cancelled, planes can’t get in, and those planes that are in have no crew.
7:45 pm: our flight to Salt Lake City is cancelled.
7:50 pm: a Continental rep tells us we’ve all been rebooked on a flight the next morning, well, all but one of us who was booked on the last flight out Monday night scheduled to leave at 8:30 pm, she tells us to all run over there, we may get on standby, we debate just getting a hotel for the night, but decide to try and make the flight.
8:20 pm: yep, I have a seat, and we even have a plane, now all we need is a crew.
8:45 pm: lots more flights cancelled, there are only three flights left in this terminal, and hotels are filling up (thousands of passengers need rooms, but most can’t get to the hotels though because of street flooding).
9:30 pm: a flight to Pittsburgh leaves, things are momentarily looking up.
10:00 pm: still no crew, they are stuck in San Antonio, and every flight but ours has now been canceled
11:00 pm: announcement, the crew is about to leave San Antonio, we’ll leave in about an hour, loud cheering.
11:30 pm: announcement, crew should be leaving shortly, but Houston spoke to them, and they are fine to fly on to Salt Lake City.
12:00 pm: announcement, crew has left San Antonio, we’ll be leaving at 1:00 am (2:00 am my time).
12:25 pm: flight from San Antonio arrives, loud cheers from all.
12:45 pm: the Continental rep is looking very agitated, something is wrong.
1:00 am: announcement, the crew is fatigued, after being strung along for hours we’ll not be flying now after all, and there is no way to get a room anywhere now.
1:15 am: we’re rebooked on a Delta flight at 8:05 am, pillows (if they can be called that) and blankets (think slightly oversized thin towel) are handed out.
1:30 am: we stake our claim to a piece of rug on the terminal floor and try to get some sleep, emphasis on “try”.
5:00 am: we give up, and head over to Terminal A for the Delta flight.
7:15 am: we’re at the gate, looks like we’ll be heading to Salt Lake City shortly.
And that’s where the story should end. Right? Wrong …
7:30 am: my laptop batteries are drained, I need to recharge them before I board so I can get a few hours work in, I plug the charger in to the outlet and in to the computer, and … a flame shoots out of the PCMCIA slot (right next to the CPU and power source), smoke billows out of several openings (generally not a good sign), smoke detectors in the terminal go off, the smell of burnt plastic and an electrical fire turns all the heads, I yank the power cord at of the outlet, and blow out the fire, fun stuff, I guess I’ll not be working on this flight, and I am getting all sorts of funny looks from people because of the pungent odor.
8:00 am: we board the Delta flight, we’re on our way.
10:30 am: (11:30 am Houston time) we arrive in Salt Lake City, it’s taken over 20 hours to get from Detroit, and I can’t nap, I need to find a computer fast.
But, we made it. Here’s hoping that the rest of MAX goes a little smoother!