On a Wing and a Prayer

Flight info

Top of the morning to ya Virtual Travel Buddies! I trust you slept well dreaming of leprechauns and Guinness (apparently your leprechauns are drunk). With thirty-six hours at home between a personal trip to LA and my flight to Ireland, I spent the day packing and clearing up some last minute challenges.

One challenge would be that, while I reserved my traditional window seat, which allows me to take out the pillow I carry on, along with my earplugs, eye-mask and cozy slippers, lean against the window, and nest, the airline decided that I would much prefer aisle seats and switched my seats at the last minute. When I went to check in online, I got to the seat part of the process and it said I could not change them and would have to try at the airport. I decided to call and here’s how the conversation went:

“Hi,” I said. “I’ve checked in for my flight and, while I had specific window seats reserved, they seem to have been switched to aisle seats.”

“Oh, you can go online and change them.”

“Yeh, that’s what I thought,” I responded. “But it’s telling me I can’t and must try to do that when I check in at the airport.”

“Hmmm, well I’ve just checked and there are window seats currently available so you just need to go online and change them as, once you’ve checked in, I can’t do anything,” the agent responded.

“As I said, it won’t allow me to. Here, I’m on the seat page, let me read it to you.” I read the page to him.

“Oh, well, as I said there are a few window seats available but they don’t train us in how to change them at this point. I can connect you to our web department.”

“Um, no. Before I start getting transferred all over the place, may I please speak with a supervisor in reservations?”

After transferring me to his supervisor who was able to work it out for me, here I sit, in seat 25A (a window seat!), going nowhere. Yup, a weather issue in my connection city of Philadelphia has delayed our take-off by an hour and ten minutes. As I only have an hour-and-a-half layover to begin with, there’s a good chance that I will get to enjoy the beautiful sites of Philadelphia for an extra day as opposed to that wretched city of Limerick, Ireland. And all without the added bonus of having luggage (hair products, I need my hair products!).

While I count myself lucky to not be one of the eight people bumped from the flight, not due to lack of seats, but because we’re “heavy” (really? Does this airplane make my butt look fat?). What heavy means in airline terms is that, between the fuel, people and baggage, this baby weighs lot. What makes this flight heavy today is the weather in Phoenix. It’s incredibly sunny and warm. Okay, not just warm, but HOT! There are extreme heat warnings which mess with the lift in the air when trying to get this thing off the ground.

Finally, after an hour-and-twenty-minute delay, we take off. A couple of hours into the flight my travel experience kicks in and, with the helpful flight attendant’s assistance (trust me, there were some unhelpful one’s on this flight), I find a seat nearer to the front of the plane left vacant by one of the previously mentioned bumped passengers. This will help me make a quick exit in order to do a mad dash through the Philadelphia airport. I grab my carry-on bags and miscellaneous comfort items and truly piss-off a good amount of the people sitting in the aisle seats between rows twenty-five and seven.

They announce that our new expected arrival is 8:25pm. I still stand a chance to hightail it over to the international terminal. After an hour or so more of flying, another announcement. Due to the weather over the airport we’ll stay way up in the sky and circle until further notice. Oh dear, the travel gods are not on my side today.

We finally land during an incredibly fierce thunder storm with lightning lighting up the sky all around us. On our approach, we fly over the ballpark where the Philadelphia Phillies play. I find it odd that the game continues despite the lightning. Once safely on the ground, the captain makes an announcement saying that the good news is, we’re finally here. The bad news is that, due to the lightning, airport personnel are not allowed to put out the jetways at the moment. Yet a baseball game is no problem. Seriously!

Once inside, the airport is like a 5k race. People are running at full speed, dragging both their luggage and their children behind them. I’m pretty sure the person who reaches the international terminal first gets to crash through a line of yellow tape with their chest leading the way and their mouth open mid-gasp. We should all be wearing numbers on our chest.

I take a quick moment to look at a monitor to see which gate I need to run to and, lo-and-behold, the travel gods have taken pity on me and my flight is now delayed until 11:00pm, almost two hours late. Hurray for delayed flights (sometimes)! I head to the bar. Hurray for the bar (almost always)!

After two beers and some hummus I trek on back to the gate where I meet Siobhan and her two daughters, nine year-old Aibha and six year-old Aisling. They are two of the most entertaining kids, which is great as the dreaded announcement soon comes that, while our plane has finally made it in, it will take some time to clean and get the security check. Aibha hands me a lollipop telling me “it tastes like Ireland.” I graciously accept it and save it for when (and if) I get to Ireland. After another hour and announcement is made that they’re working on the repairs (what?) as it “takes a lot to get a plane ready to fly across the pond.” They now push back our estimated departure to 12:00 midnight.

After a while longer, another announcement

“Ladies and gentlemen, we’re sorry to say that we need to announce a gate change. Please proceed to gate twenty.” We gather our supplies, Aisling gives me another lollipop, and head over to gate twenty. After a while sitting at gate twenty, the sign with the expected departure changes to 1:15am. Apparently there’s a mechanical issue with this plane too. It seems that I’ve booked a ticket on Air Rent-A-Wreck where their slogan is, “Thanks for flying with us, did you bring your tools?”

Tomorrow, I arrive. . . hopefully. In the meantime, have you entered the Drop Me Anywhere Travel Limerick Contest? Be sure you get in on it. Click here and write your limerick in the comment section.

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