This week was a quick trip to Salt Lake City for dinner with a client.
At first I was excited, because I can actually get a quick direct flight from right here in COS without having to drive all the way to Denver!
Alas, when I looked at my two daily options, one put me into SLC way too early for my 6pm dinner, and one put me in too late.
But I wasn’t really in favor of spending 1/4 of my exactly 24 hour round trip on the road back and forth to Denver.
So instead I booked connecting flights with my dear friends on United out of COS. I did make sure the connections were in Denver, however, just in case my United friends continued their near perfect streak of travel issues. At least I would be within driving distance of home.
My trip to SLC was relatively uneventful. My super long 17 minute flight from Colorado Springs to Denver was a little bumpy, but who had time to really care.
I had just enough time on my 50 min layover to get some water and be ready for boarding.
My actual time in SLC, while with very few hours actually awake, was pretty nice. It was a beautiful evening in the bowl, and a pleasant dinner with good company.
I set my alarm before drifting off for 6am to make sure I had time to get to the airport and get the ever important coffee, before my 8:25am flight.
Having got my coffee, and starting to become pleasantly awake, I walk up to my gate just in time to hear them announce that we are on a “ground hold” from Denver flight control, due to “freezing fog” in Denver.
Freezing fog? Is that really a thing?
I have traveled a lot for a lot of years. How have I never heard of frozen fog at any other time, on any other trip? Not to mention my slightly more than a few years on this planet. I’m quite sure I have never heard of freezing fog at any point during this time.
I make a note to consult with my super smart 3rd grade friend, Christopher, who I happen to know, through his mom, is studying weather.
They continue to say that at that point, the delay is only set for 30 min, and everyone should be good on their connections, so I decide to finish enjoying my coffee.
As the coffee continues to clear the un-frozen fog in my brain, however, I realize I am hearing the ongoing boarding announcements for the Delta flight to Denver, that is also scheduled to leave at 8:25.
Something is wrong with this picture. Both flights are heading to Denver?
Both are scheduled to leave at 8:25?
But somehow, the Delta flight is actually boarding and not delayed, while us lucky United passengers are sitting here at the gate and at least 30 min delayed.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I decide not to get too worked up yet. Maybe the Delta crew just haven’t gotten the message, and all those people will actually just sit on the plane during their ground hold, instead of in the slightly more comfortable terminal.
But I just continue to watch as the Delta plane is loaded, the doors closed, and it pushes off the gate.
Sure enough, it takes off merrily on it’s way to Denver as planned.
What kind of weather is this that only affects one airline and not another?!?
I bite my tongue, and take a deep breath, and decide as long as we leave at 9 and my connection is intact, all will be well in the end.
But of course we don’t.
At 9, instead of coming on to announce we will be starting the boarding process, they come on to announce that we are now on another delay for at least another hour, because instead of the Denver fog un-freezing, it is actually getting more frozen. And now I will definitely miss my connection
Now I can’t help myself. I must inquire.
So I walk up to my United agents and ask if they can explain what I obviously missed in 3rd grade weather, about this frozen fog that can affect one airline and not another.
Of course they missed that day in 3rd grade too, and have no answer for me, except that since United has the largest fleet, they are often the most affected by weather issues.
But not to worry! They have already rebooked my connection to the 3:45pm flight to COS.
I literally can not form a response to this, despite being fully loaded with coffee, except to give them my tilted head, scrunched up eye look.
I take another deep breath and decide continuing the conversation is going to be pointless, so instead I head back to my seat, while I pull up the Delta app on my phone. Sure enough, their 8:25 flight is en route to Denver and still on track to touch down in about 20 minutes time. I also see that they have another flight heading to Denver at 9:59, that is also, miraculously, showing on time.
So I make my way over to the Delta desk directly across the terminal from my United desk.
“I was just curious, if this was accurate, and if your 8:25 flight actually took off to Denver with no issues?”
“And your 9:59 flight is still on time and not delayed?”
“Um, yes I think so. Let me check. Yes. It’s on time”
“Hmmm. I’m just a little confused, because I’m on that United flight right there, that was also supposed to take off at 8:25 to Denver, but was delayed due to weather. So, I’m not really sure how the weather isn’t affecting your planes”
“Yeah, I heard those announcements, and I was wondering what that was about.” Then she looks at me. “But, um, sometimes, it’s the type of aircraft that is affected or not”
I just give her my “I don’t really know what to say to that” look and move on.
“Ok, so are there any seats still left on your 9:59 flight?”
She consults her computer. “It looks like there are 4 seats left”
“Great, thanks! I’ll be right back”
I turn and walk back across the hall to my United friends, wait for them to finish finding solutions for the other un-connected passengers, and when it is finally my turn, I ask them to push my ticket to Delta, so I can travel with an airline that appears impervious to weather.
“But that will only get you to Denver. You won’t have your connection to Colorado Springs”
“I’m pretty sure I can manage” is all I say. I don’t say that even if the United flight did manage to take off at 10, I wasn’t exactly planning on sitting around DIA until 4pm waiting for a 17 min flight.
To the agents credit, he pushed the ticket to Delta without much more to-do, except to say that he has never really been able to figure out the way they manage weather delays either. I just give him a smile, thank him for my Delta voucher, and head to my Delta gate to check in.
5 min later, I have a boarding pass, and another 5 min after, we are actually boarding the plane. While the United crew is still sitting at their gate.
Besides being a bit more bumpy than normal upon approach to DIA, our hour long flight flew by, and I land to what appears to be a sunny, 45 degree day in Denver.
I hop on the train to the main terminal, call an Uber as I ride up the escalator, and walk out to Arie waiting for me at the curb.
Arie is a tiny Asian grandpa, who seems genuinely excited when he sees he has to drive me to Colorado Springs. I assume it’s the triple digit fare that helps with this.
As soon as we leave the airport, Arie literally drives his Prius like there are monsters chasing us, and we make it from DIA to COS airport in an hour and 30 min flat. That might actually be a record, even for me, who has had a speeding ticket or two. I could take driving lessons from Arie, I think.
And at 3:45 I had had my lunch, unpacked and was sitting comfortably in my house.