This week I’m traveling on business to the lovely state of Alabama to do some testing of our software in the field. Right now it’s almost 10pm, and I’m going to bed soon, having been awake for the last 40 hours, not counting a 45 minute nap. Let’s just say, the travel didn’t go as planned.
The original plan was to fly out of Peoria at 4pm into Atlanta then catch a connecting flight to Birmingham after a reasonable 1.5 hour layover. My traveling companion and I left Peoria without incident but when we got to Atlanta they weren’t landing any planes there due to the weather. We entered a holding pattern for about 45 minutes or so and had to divert to Huntsville, AL when we ran low on fuel. We stopped in Huntsville and they fueled us up but we didn’t go to a terminal. No big deal- I’m sure we’ll be moving on soon…
After 5 and a half hours of sitting in the plane on the ground in Huntsville, they cleared us to fly to Atlanta, a very quick flight. We were assured that all other flights into and out of Atlanta were experiencing the same delays. We went directly to catch our connecting flight and found that we’d missed it by 5 minutes… It’s now after 11pm. We made some calls and got in a VERY long line at our airline’s counter to see what we could do. At around 1am, the emergency lights started flashing and a muffled announcement came over the intercom about the weather. No one left the line. At 2am they came out and said all the hotels in Atlanta were full, and they switched from handing out hotel vouchers to handing out pillows.
Finally, around 3am we reached the beginning on the line and learned that we could fly to Birmingham at 11am the next day. Between the fact that we were scheduled to start work at 8am and our unwillingness to sleep on a tile floor, we asked the ticket agent to cancel our flight to Birmingham but keep our return flight.
We rented a car and took off, arriving at our hotel in Birmingham at about 6am. Mercifully, we weren’t expected anywhere until 8am so we went to our rooms for a quick nap. At 8am we did the work we came to do, dressed in the clothes we’d worn the day before (our bags would be taking the next flight…) After work we ran to the airport to get our bags and trade in our rental car for the originally scheduled contract.
The worst part is that we needed to end up in Decatur, a mere 25 miles from Huntville, where we sat on the plane for so long without the possiblity of escape. The second worst part is that we spent 14 hours traveling via airline when we could have driven the whole thing in 9 hours…
Thankfully, today went just fine and everything worked out well. We’re tired, but our host took it easy on us, and we’ll get caught up on rest tonight!