I had a direct flight to Washington, D.C., but I was not so lucky on the way home. My flight home connected through Charlotte, N.C.
As I said before, I was worried that my flight out of Washington might be canceled. But it was not. Instead it was just very late. We were supposed to leave at 5:15 p.m., but we ended up leaving about four hours late. Unfortunately, that meant that I missed my connecting flight, and the last flight home that night.
But I was not the only person stranded at the airport overnight. Everyone on my plane was stranded, including a family of five trying to get home to Houston, and a mother and son trying to get back to Indianapolis. I talked to the gate agent and she could guarantee me a seat on the first flight home on Monday morning. If I wanted to get home any earlier, I would have to fly stand-by.
I spent the night in the airport. I could have looked for a hotel room, but it would be at my own expense. I think that there were probably a couple hundred other people there.
At first I wasn't sure where I was going to stay in the airport. I found a fairly comfortable rocking chair, but airport security told me I had to move to terminal D if I was going to stay in the airport overnight. When I got there, I saw that they had a stack of foldable cots for us to take and spread out in the terminal. I took one and looked for the darkest place I could find. There was really no dark place, so I took off my shoes, stretched out on my cot, took off my glasses and put on my sunglasses to block out the light. I also put in my earphones and played soothing choral music on my iPod. The music blocked out the noise of my fellow travelers talking, tossing and turning, and snoring.
It wasn't the most comfortable place to sleep, but I got maybe two or three hours of sleep before I woke up for good at 5:30 a.m. I might have slept more but it was kind of chilly in the terminal. I was cold even though I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. I wrapped my torso in my fuzzy jacket, and I emptied my cloth carry-on bag and used it to keep my feet warm. But by 5:30, I had given up and I went in search of some breakfast.
I ate my overpriced yogurt parfait at the gate of the first flight home of the morning. Then I talked to the woman at the gate and found out that I was number two on the standby list. Some college boys sat across from me and I heard them talking about rowing. I asked them where they were going, and they said Knoxville, and then I asked if their final destination was Oak Ridge. Sure enough, they were going to rowing spring training in Oak Ridge. I asked them how they were getting to Oak Ridge, and they said they would take a cab. I offered to give them a ride, if we ended up on the same flight.
The ticketed passengers boarded first. When I heard them call my name for a seat, I felt as if I'd won the lottery. I told those boys that it was too bad that it appeared that they wouldn't make it on the flight. But after I got on, there were still a number of empty seats, and they ended up making the flight too.
Once we took off, I realized that it would be difficult to fit everyone's luggage in my car. Fortunately (?) that problem was solved by the fact that none of our checked baggage made it on the flight with us. So we spent about an hour reporting our lost baggage before we could leave.
The woman said that chances were good that our bags would arrive on the next flight from Charlotte. I gave her my address and phone number so that they could deliver my suitcase to me here. The college students accompanied me to my car, and I drove them to their hotel in Oak Ridge. It was no big deal because it was right on the way home. Also, the company kept me entertained and awake. They thanked me profusely for giving them a ride, and I wished them the best of luck in their spring training.
I got a call maybe an hour ago from the delivery guy, asking for directions, so I know that my bag is on its way. Now I'm just waiting for Jeff and Vinny to return from their trip to Kentucky. I've missed them a lot!