A day at the airports

Filed under:General — eric @ 12:02 pm

I had the kind of travel day you only read about.

My scheduled flights yesterday were to begin at 7:30 at the Athens airport, taking me to Charlotte and then to Boston. At Boston, I was to rent a car and drive to my hotel in Ashland, New Hampshire. Total travel time: under six hours.

Instead, after I got to the airport at 6:30, I waited around the gate for four hours. Charlotte was fogged in, they told us, and nothing was getting in or out. After a series of delays, they cancelled the flight at 10:30. By then, all the rest of the day’s flights out of Athens were booked. My options: wait until Tuesday to try again, or try my luck in Atlanta. My schedule wouldn’t allow me to wait a day, so I took their offer of a cab to Atlanta. Traffic was heavy, so the trip took two more hours. In Atlanta, all flights to Boston were full, so I was told to wait on standby at one gate after another. They definately could fit me in on a 7pm flight to Philidelphia and then to Boston, they said, but maybe I could get there sooner. No dice. I left Atlanta for Philly late, at 8pm. On the good side, they flew me first class. I’ve never gone first class before, and of course I greatly enjoyed it. Free irish cream while reading a cheesy science fiction book? I’ll take it.

When we landed in Philly, I was late for my connecting flight to Boston. I ran to the gate they told me, only to find a (overbooked) later flight to Boston on the sign. My flight, the new person said, was actually two gates down. I got there to find a flight to Chicago boarding. My flight? Two concourses away, with two minutes to get there. I ran down the moving escalator and arrived to find a long line at the gate. They needed volunteers to stay behind, but I went ahead. We boarded the plane, they shut the door, and we sat there. For a long time. The pilot finally came on and announced the company had “forgotten” to schedule any baggage handlers to load the plane. We had to wait for handlers form other flights to get some spare time to load us. That only took an hour and a half. I finished my book (the second one for the day) and began another. We finally departed, and I arrived in Boston after eleven pm. The place was deserted.

I literally got the last rental car on the lot. I rent National, where they let you choose your own car, so mine was the car everyone else rejected. The engine worked, so even though the mirrors were broken, I took it. I didn’t have directions to New Hampshire, other then “North” and “Interstate”, but my boy scout training got me pointed in the right direction. From what I could tell in the darkness, Boston was signs. There were giant holes everywhere. Lanes stopped for no reason. I guess I was witnessing “The Big Dig“.

I pulled into my motel a bit after one in the morning. I’d hoped to get dinner (I’d grabbed lunch at one of those carts between the gates in Atlanta), but every restaurant between Boston and Ashland was closed. Even the fast food places. I guess the open-late policies I’m used to are a regional thing.

Anyway, I’m here now, a little weary but hard at work. Maybe I’ll have an easy evening tonight.


  1. You should have driven. Driving is faster than flying these days, and more fun.

    Comment by Schlake — 11/27/2001 @ 1:01 am

  2. At least you didn’t have to drive IN Boston…I once spent maybe three hours just trying to find the freeway in Boston…I could see it, but I couldn’t get on it. In my case, Boston was everything BUT signs…no signs anywhere telling you where you were headed. I ended up finding the airport, and then following a charter bus to Braintree…my destination.

    P.S. I’m glad your flight was safe, at least.

    Comment by M — 11/27/2001 @ 2:22 am

  3. The two I packer were Day Range Poultry and White Mars. The first is a blueprint for the poultry arm of our farm, though the book is primarily concerned with selling meat. Even though the copy I had had at least one typo per page, it was a very good read. It affirmed that we’re moving in the right direction on the farm. The second, White Mars, was given to me with a warning that it was bad. The warning was correct. Written by Sir Roger Penrose, professor of mathematics at Oxford, it stands as a counter to Kim Stanley Robinson’s excellent Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars series. It had some high points, but it fell flat under the Penrose’s heavy voice. All of the characters were him talking, not themselves, so it wasn’t fun to read. I stuck it out, though.

    At the airport I picked up Mars Crossing, which has so far been a great read. It has the writing style of Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles with the realism of Robinson’s Mars books. I’m about half way through, but I’m very pleased.

    I also picked up Harry Turtledove’s Great War: Breakthroughs. I’ve mentioned the other books in the series here, but I may have waited too long to pick up this in paperback. The excitement’s not there. Still, I feel obligated to finish the series, and I know the excitement will return when I start the reading. The next series has begun already, though there are signs Turtledove is slipping. With umpteen fat novels a year, it’s no wonder.

    Comment by eric — 11/28/2001 @ 5:10 am

  4. You packed two books? What were they? Were they any good? I was recently introduced to the many varied and fine works of Carl Hiaasen. They’re super and I recommend them to all. Congratulations on arriving in New Hampshire!

    Comment by Matt — 11/28/2001 @ 9:31 am

  5. Myself, I’ve returned to Hemmingway. Loved “The Sun Also Rises” in high school…reread it and loved it more. So I plowed through “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (471 pages in about 3 weeks, which is totally a record for me since I never finish books) and now I am on to “Farewell to Arms”, which is a quicker read than “Bell”, but not as good. Reading war novels is much more interesting than I thought it would be, especially in light of current events.

    Comment by M — 11/29/2001 @ 7:21 am

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