If you’ve ever relied on an airplane to reach your destination by a specific time or, heck, even a specific day, you know that can be a little dicey because you never know what kind of a delay might put a kink into your schedule. Such was the situation when we were headed out on a special vacation to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.
While sitting in the terminal at San Antonio International, we noticed three airport employees standing on the ground below the jetway, staring up at our plane. That couldn’t be good. The gate agent announced at 2:00 on that Friday afternoon (five minutes before boarding was to commence) that the jetway had hit the plane too hard, and there was a small dent on the fuselage. Seriously? Who gets overzealous on extending the jetway?!? On the one hand we were really ticked that a stupid little dent could delay our flight; on the other hand, it was darn good to know that they paid attention to a detail that was so small that they had difficulty photographing for the engineers the questionable area.
Sometimes, time management doesn’t go as planned, so you need to improvise.
I immediately got into the “uh oh” line to speak to the gate agent in order to find out what our options would be if our plane didn’t leave. To everyone’s credit, there was neither screaming nor stomping nor rushing the gate agent. I finally reached the desk just before 3:00. Our connecting flight was in Chicago at 7:15 PM, scheduled to land in Heathrow at 9:00 AM on Saturday morning, with our train leaving from London at 1:00 PM to get us to our relatives’ house at 3:00 PM in time for a family dinner that evening.
The gate agent said, “I’m sorry, but there are no flights that will get you to London on Saturday. The earliest we can get you there is Sunday.”
Me, with a big smile (pretending to be a happy camper, but secretly starting to get worried): “I’m totally fine with not flying out of Chicago. You can fly us to any airport that will connect us to London.”
Gate agent: “There are zero available seats on flights leaving the States tonight for London.”
Me, still trying to smile: “No problem! We’re fine with flying on one of your One World partner airlines.”
Gate agent: “I included all of them in my search.”
Me, quietly with smile fading: “Oh crap.”
The gate agent suggested that we play the wait and see game. He held two tickets for us on the earliest flight out, and instructed us that if our flight left San Antonio by 3:30, we would make it to our connecting flight.
At 3:15, an announcement was made that we would begin boarding in 5 minutes. Yahoo! I asked a different gate agent, “So will this plane leave by 3:30 so we can make our 7:15 connection, or should we use the tickets that are on hold?”
She smiled and said, “Oh, you’ll make it.”
At 3:25, boarding finally started. Hmmmm….This was cutting it a bit close. But maybe people would be in a hurry like we were and would board faster. Somehow. Maybe?
At 3:35, we were seated in the back of the plane. I asked the flight attendant if she knew our ETA. She smiled politely and said she wouldn’t know until we left the gate. I asked if she thought we’d make our 7:15 connection. She looked at her watch and said, “I hope so.” Eeek! That didn’t sound confident.
To be continued next week! And, yes, I will get around to the time management tips part!!