In addition to mailing packages, add flying to the list of things I'm not very good at, or lucky with...either way.
So I have to fly out at 6am, possibly the earliest that OIA runs a flight out of their terminals, and everything is looking peachy. I'll get to Northwest Arkansas just in time to have lunch with the family, an added bonus. Getting into the connecting hub around 8:30, I didn't have too terribly long to while away the time before hopping on my connecting flight at 11:00. Well, let me just comment on the beauty of Atlanta's Hartsfield Jackson airport. If you love brown and the rec. hall theme, it's for you.
At 11:00, we are told that the cabin crew had not arrived to prep the cabin and we should be boarding momentarily. 11:15 rolls around and they tell us that they are waiting on permission to start boarding. 11:20 and the real truth comes out: flight canceled due to maintenance issues. Much different than the foreboding thought that the cabin crew hadn't gotten their shit together.
Luckily I was far enough away to make a break for the ticket service counter and promptly got myself on the standby for the next available flight, which wasn't until 2:00...and then 4:00...and then 6:00. Worst case scenario, I had a confirmed booking on a flight going through Cincinnati back to Northwest Arkansas at 6:45 arriving home at 10:00 pm. I was not happy. Did I mention that I had been up since 4:30?!
Coolio, so what's a boy to do in Atlanta for the next six hours? Why can't I be stuck in an airport like OIA or LAX for a bloody 9 hours! I had always heard that the Coca Cola exhibit at Atlanta was cool. I'm here to tell you those fuckers were lying. If you are ever stuck in Atlanta, hope that you have ample amounts of battery life on your iPod, cell phone, lap top...whatever because there is not much to see or do. Because I am totally optimistic, I had placed all of my essential batteries, etc in my checked luggage since I of course had charged everything the night before and didn't want to mess with the extra bulk at 4:30 in the morning!
2:00 rolls around and I didn't make it on the next flight. Believe it or not, Northwest Arkansas is fully booked ALL THE TIME. There is not a flight going to that destination that is not ever completely booked. The hopes of me getting the hell outta dodge before 6:45 was looking pretty minimal. Optimism was fading. Out of the kindness of Delta's hearts, I got a $7 meal voucher to spend anywhere in the Atlanta airport...on them! Whoooo boy! Popeye's here I come! groan.
Finally 4:00 comes and I am waiting patiently for all of the confirmed passengers to get aboard their flight to Wal-Martland, Danielle Steele novels and all. Kinda getting used to the hurry up and wait drill, I had very much resigned myself to not getting on this bird either. Luckily, since I had been placed on the standby list early on, the last booking agent told me to definitely show up at the 4:00 flight because I was pretty high on the list, wink wink. Believe it or not, on this completely booked flight, they were able to call FIVE more standby names and NONE of them were mine. Bitch! By the grace of God they must have all been stuck over in the Essence of Atlanta shop because none of them showed. It was my time to shine!
They weren't kidding about this being a full flight. I was in the very last row of a puddle jumper next to some lady studying her "Ethnic Women's Shopping Demographics" folio for her big meeting at Wal-Mart corporate later that afternoon. I decided to check out for a little bit and started burning what little juice I had left in my iPod while I closed my eyes to the gentle strains of Maria Taylor. Like a bad dream, at about 10,000 feet the pilot comes on and says (I shit you not) "I got bad news..." Apparently the passenger door light had come on and we had to turn around and go back. The thing that surprises me is that this plane just came from NWA with passengers and if I'm not mistaken, this would have to have been the same exact plane that I would have been on earlier in the day making its return trip to Atlanta. Surely they didn't use the one I couldn't have gotten on earlier. Well, it is either that or the fact that all Delta had flying from Atlanta to NWA are the equivalent of Ford Pintos.
After about 30 more minutes hanging around gate c30 (the same one I had spent much of my day staring at) we boarded a different plane and headed back. I could tell this was a different plane because the horrible brown shit-looking stain was gone from the seat in front of me and there was no greasy facial impression on the window. This flight went off without a hitch and we even got crackers with cheese and our choice of beverages! They pulled out all the stops for us people who demand so much from our super-affordable airlines. My only regret was that I didn't get to stick it to the man by using my $7 meal voucher.
Anyway, glad to be back home where the air is fresh, the faces are friendly and there isn't a meal that goes by that isn't made with a little bit of grease and love. I'm off to Branson y'all!