My flight left at 6:30 this morning. We got to Chicago only to discover that the snow, wind and ice was so bad that the entire airport had been shut down. 14 ATA flights into Midway were redirected, and our plane ended up in Champaign. Now the Champaigne airport isn’t really a real airport, it’s just a small commuter facility. As a result, there weren’t gates or anything, and no security, which meant that anyone who got off the plane couldn’t get back on. Of course we all stayed on. We sat on their jetway for a good three hours, and the only thing that made it bearable was the clear concern the pilot had for the passengers. He ordered Papa John’s for the entire plane – 30 pizzas; we each got one slice. The pizza delivery person drove right up to the plane to deliver it. No security is right.
Finally we’re allowed to take off and head for Midway. We’re all pretty excited at this point, as we’ve been delayed quite a bit. We fly for about 30 minutes when I notice we’re flying a holding pattern. Sure enough, the pilot comes on the intercom and informs us that the control tower put us into it while they cleared the runway. Unfortunately, it was going to take them 45 minutes, and we didn’t have that much fuel. Reroute #2 took us to Indianapolis. There, some kind of real authority figure for ATA came onto the plane. People going to LaGuardia were able to get off and get on a plane that was headed over there. The rest of us weren’t allowed, as the plane was only there to be refueled before going back out to Midway. I was actually very impressed by the ATA rep, he did a good job of taking the complete blame for all the problems and pacifying people. Actually I thought most people on the flight were relatively well-behaved and calm. Resigned, maybe.
Finally, into the air, put into another holding pattern as they were once again clearing the runways. We land, braking hard against the ice. And are directed into a holding area. Turns out the gate we were supposed to get was occupied by a plane which was only just starting to board its passengers. Thirty minutes later we’re informed that the plane’s pilot was stuck in Peoria. Another thirty minutes go by and finally we’re given a gate and let off the plane.
This brings us to the question of: why am I still here? Well, in San Jose, turns out the plane had too much baggage weight and 12 pieces of luggage were removed and placed on the next flight out, which was supposed to leave at 12:30 pm. Guess what? Mine was one of the suitcases. And where is that flight now? It’s sitting in that holding area waiting for a gate. And as such, I’m sitting in the baggage claim waiting for it, too.
I finished Travels With Charley by Steinbeck, and so am out of reading material. I know, I should have brought more books in my backpack, but I didn’t think I’d need them. I’ve seen quite a few planeloads of people come in and out by now. I’m sitting on top of this big olivey green/metal thing. The guy on my left is stretched out asleep, as he has been for as long as I’ve been here. I recognize some of the people who are wandering around as people from my flight. We’re all stuck here. We want our damn luggage, already.
If the baggage comes in within the next hour, I’ll be lucky to get to NU and in bed by 2. I’ve got 9 am class tomorrow. I wish all this sitting around time had been spent with people at home. But oh well, such is life. It’s a lonely business, this traveling alone. No wonder Steinbeck took his dog, Charley, with him across the nation. Lindsey’s flight got cancelled totally, which means she’ll miss classes tomorrow, but at least she’s in bed by now. I’m here, leaned up against a bright lit up ad for General Electric. It says “Discovery ST PET/CT, 2D_3D_4D=clinical Confidence. Imagination at work.” I have no idea what it’s talking about. Then again, I doubt I have an idea of what anything is talking about tonight. :P
I wish I could say something insightful about what this experience has taught me about people. But for the most part I was removed from everyone. Even the person kicking my seat didn’t bother me much. I take life as It comes to me and then feel like I don’t care. But man, thank god for my mom, and her putting a bagel, sandwich and cookies in a bag for me. Without that I’d be totally gone by now.
I can tell you one thing though – the parting never gets any easier.
 January 5, 2004, 08:29
about to head off to class. I finally got my bag & even found NUers to share a cab with. Got back to NU at 3:15 am. 22 hours of traveling. I'm exhausted & after class I'm going back to sleep...