Cindy dropped me off at OIA Wednesday morning. Man, I love using the CLEAR program. It is such a breeze going through security.
My flight left Orlando on time and even arrived in DFW about 15 minutes early, but that wasn’t a good thing. Since we were early the gate was still occupied by a plane that had not yet departed. On top of that, the departing flight was delayed so we sat on the tarmac for 30 minutes waiting for it to get out of the way. Originally I had a 90 minute window between flights, and that is usually needed the way connecting flights are spread out around the city-sized DFW airport; now I had a little over an hour.
I rushed to my connecting flight gate and arrived just as they were supposed to start boarding…except they weren’t. I spotted a friend and co-worker, Pat, sitting at an adjacent gate, but it turned out she was actually on the same flight I was and we were both heading into…The Twilight Zone.
Our flight was supposed to leave at 1:35. At 1:55 they informed us there was a maintenance issue with the plane that they were correcting and at 2:20 they began to board us. I didn’t think I was going to like this part of the trip because it was on one of their regional jets and I had not been able to reserve an exit seat to accommodate my long legs. However, I discovered that there was no one sitting in the seat next to mine on the very last row, so I was anticipating a more comfortable flight. It was also my first time flying in the last row on a regional jet.
The pilot came on the PA system and apologized for the delay, explaining that a bird had failed to get out of the way as the plane was approaching Dallas and they had sustained some damage that they wanted the maintenance people to check out. That was fine with me; I’d always prefer any maintenance issues be resolved on good old Terra Firma.
The cabin door was closed and we waited to back away from the gate. And waited. And waited some more. Then we waited a bit more.
Finally the pilot came on the PA system again and announced that the baggage handlers could not get the cargo door to close and maintenance was on the way back to the plane. A few minutes later the cabin door was opened and the pilot left the cockpit and exited the plane. Then, a few minutes later, the co-pilot did the same. We could hear bumping and banging sounds from beneath us, and probably a few choice curse words as well.
After a while the pilot returned to the cockpit and announced that our plane was not going to be flying; maintenance was unable to seal the cargo door and we were going to have to de-plane (“De plane! De plane!”) and wait for a replacement aircraft. So we all trudged off the broken bird and made our way back to the gate.
And waited. And waited some more. Then we waited a bit more.
Eventually, we were told there was no replacement aircraft available and that maintenance had left to “get another part”, presumably at the Dallas area Pep Boys store. Then, 4 hours after we were originally scheduled to depart, we were put back on the plane. I had visions of being at 39,000 feet and hearing a “bang!” followed by a shudder in the plane and then looking out the window to see my suitcases falling from the belly of the plane, but fortunately that never happened.
What did happen was that as I sat back down in my last row seat I felt a small tickle in my throat. A small tickle in my throat always, ALWAYS means I’m about to get a cold. As soon as the beverage cart came out, I asked for an orange juice in an attempt to halt the inevitable.
I also want to mention that flying in the last row of a regional jet is like riding in the last car on a rollercoaster. I don’t know how that is possible inside a straight tube of aluminum, but I honestly felt like I was being whipped around during various flight maneuvers and reached for the barf bag a couple of times. Thankfully, I never had to use it.
By the time I arrived in Des Moines, got my rental car (a Mustang fastback, BABY!!) and made it to my hotel, I was feeling so sick from the cold that I bought some cold medicine, took it and immediately fell asleep in my bed.
I was up at 5am Thursday morning and worked 12 hours, came back to the hotel, ate some dinner and immediately fell asleep in my bed. Rinse and Repeat on Friday and today. I have been so wiped out that tonight is the first time I have even taken my laptop out of its case on this trip. It’s been nothing but work, eat, be sick and sleep.
I’m off tomorrow (Sunday) but am leaving Des Moines to move to Waterloo to work from that part of the state. More on that tomorrow (I hope).
And I still hate being sick.
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