Monday, March 31, 2008

The Journey Home - Part Two

Back at Nashville Airport at 4.30am... YAY! What fun! Annabella and I have by this time decided that there is strength in numbers and she needed to be back in Newark by midday... our flight via Chicago would get her there just in time. It also meant that I would have a chance to meet Anna and Keith for lunch. Sorted.

As time ticked on at the gate (which luckily was in the part of Nashville Airport that had better shops than the day before) it became obvious that this flight wasn't leaving on time. Weather problems again? Well no, all the snow had melted from Nashville and Chicago was clear (for the moment). No the reason it was delayed was that a strap was loose... not an important strap but one that needed a 'special' glue which only maintenance crew had and as it was Sunday the crew weren't actually at the airport. GRRRRRR.

By the time we knew all this, the only other flight that we could have got to Newark via Atlanta had taken off. So we were left watching the time tick and the gap between our connecting flights got shorter and shorter. Annabella managed to get a map of Chicago O'Hare and the gate number of our connecting flight and we got our seats moved to the front of the plane. We also made sure we were booked on another flight out of Chicago at midday... just in case.

And we eventually took off... and for the hour or so flight Annabella and I plus another lady also on the same connection planned our route. If the flight to Newark was delayed we had a chance of making the connection. Sod our cases. As we landed we were poised like Olympic sprinters only with more bags. We thundered off the aircraft, Annabella is one of those little people with a fast turn of speed I was in her wake. We skidded to a stop in front of the desk and panting asked whether the Newark flight had taken off yet. It hadn't... because it was CANCELLED!!!

Annabella lost it slightly at this point as would have I if you know you are missing a baby shower you have organised. I decided that maybe I needed to see if I could fly out of Chicago to the UK. We were all booked on the midday flight to Newark which so far was not cancelled or delayed. We had some time to kill... I left the others at Chillis drinking margaritas (ok so it was 10am but we were having a bad weekend!) as I went to another terminal to find some BA staff.

Ten nminutes later at another terminal I was faced by an expanse of empty desks... as BA flights fly in the afternoon and evening out of Chicago they don't actually get there until 1PM!! I needed a drink and fast. Back I went to the original terminal, back through security and with a quick call I found the gang were still in Chillis. At least I had friends. And food. And drink. So we sat and ate and drank a margarita whilst sharing our stories. I felt a little less alone but I still had to get back to London.


Donna Alward said...

OK, as a wife of someone who is an aircraft maintenance engineer, let me tell you that maintenance crews HAVE to be there. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Someone is ALWAYS working the ramp. It's an operational requirement!

My god. I actually cringed reading your horror story. I hope you wrote an irate letter to the airline(s) about your experience.

Good thing it's not the dh in charge of that watch, he'd have blown a gasket. Time is money.

Damn, I've been married into aviation for too long.

Biddy said...

I could have been over-egging the situation, but it did take maintenance an HOUR to arrive to glue the bastard thing. Can I just fly with Darryl? As my personal maintenance man?

Oh and the horror story hasn't finished yet... I still have the meltdown on Concourse K to tell you about and the aborted landing at Heathrow.