Things Seem a Bit Foggy…

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.

Except.

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.

Wait. What?

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?

Check.

Both are scheduled to leave at 8:25?

Check.

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?”

“Yes”

“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.

Cloudy with a chance of Candy Canes

**Warning**: I am about to leak an international secret that may not be suitable for small children and more than a few adults.

Santa Claus summers in Sioux Falls, SD.

I know this because I saw him at the airport today.

Oh, he thought he was being clever in his cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirt. But there is no camouflaging that snow-white hair, that beard and those rosy cheeks.

I suppose, from the North Pole, Sioux Falls is a reasonable southern destination. Maybe he’s a fisherman.

I should have risked making the naughty list and blowing his cover to try to get some of his Christmas luck before embarking on my trip back to Denver.

Now, I will admit. I may have incured some bad travel karma earlier in the day, when I was listening to my team mates tell their travel woes while trying to connect through Minneapolis last night. Evidently there were thunderstorms in the area that caused them to suffer long delays and resulted in them not arriving until the wee hours of the morning. I may have been silently gloating about my hour long direct flight from Denver to Sioux Falls and back.

I won’t be doing that again.

It was, indeed, slightly over an hour for us to reach the DIA air space this afternoon. The flight crew came on to announce we were making our final approach and would be at our gate in 10 short minutes.

And then, 5 min later, we are suddenly banking sharply right and ascending towards the clouds again.

Our pilot comes on to let us know we are needing to circle around and approach from the other direction, due to a “weather anomaly”.

Hmmm.

Ok, so I may have been craning to look out my window for Santa’s sleigh….

Our circling around, became at least 3 circles and about an extra 45 min in the air watching DIA from every direction down below us.

Now, I have flown A LOT, and have never once even come close to getting air sick. But whatever that “weather anomaly” was, made me think I may lose the lunch I didn’t have at least a couple times in those endless circles.

We finally land, pretty close to the Colorado/Kansas line, and drive approximately another 4 hours on the runway, just to come within view of the terminal.

Which is as close as we got. The pilot comes on to inform us that all airport traffic is on “hold” due to the weather in the area. Even the ground crews have been pulled off the tarmac.

Fantastic. I, for one, am a big fan of being delayed when you can actually see your gate right in front of you.

We finally are cleared to approach…  and are told we will be deplaning via jet bridge.  Onto the tarmac that 10 minutes earlier, it wasn’t safe for the ground crew to be on.

Oh. And by the way. Would those of you who checked your bags at the gate (because our plane was too small to have overhead bins larger than the average glove box), just stand to one side, on this tarmac, to wait for your bags.

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t mind acting as an additional human lightening rod for the Denver airport. It’s not like my hair was frizzy enough today already.

I will say this, though. Lightening and stormy weather do make the ground crew move a lot faster in retrieving and delivering our bags!

I really think I deserved for it to rain at least one candy cane after all that.

 

 

When Murphy’s Law kicks your butt….

It all started with static cling.

I should have known when my dress was clinging to my tights before I even left the hotel room- despite a vigorous application of Static Guard- what kind of day this was going to be .

I probably should have just curled back up in the hotel bed and  decided to skip the day.

But I didn’t.

I foolishly ignored the signs and ventured out into the world.

And Murphy laughed and said “Game on!”

I got as far as the parking lot before he fired his first shot.

I popped the trunk on my rental car, threw my bags in, and closed the trunk.

Only to hear those 3 little horn honks that say “you just did something really dumb”

As soon as I heard them, I knew exactly what that dumb thing was. I had just shut my car key in the trunk. I tried the trunk release button over the license plate, only to hear the same 3 honks letting me know that wasn’t going to work with the key inside.

No big deal. At least I had been smart enough to unlock the car before I did that. So I just had to go inside and pop the trunk with the release button.

But here’s a fun fact!  The new Chevy Malibu does not have a trunk release button on the interior of it’s vehicle. For some unknown reason, the designers of the new Malibu-quite likely in the hopes of being perceived as innovative and cutting edge- decided there was no need for an interior trunk release button.

I know this because after I spent many minutes searching for one ( and fearing that I may not be as smart as I thought), I actually googled “where to find the trunk release in a Chevy Malibu”.  Only to have Google tell me there isn’t one.

Huh.

Well, that’s fine. I’ll just climb in the back and pull down one of the seats, or at the very least, the cup holder arm rest in the center. There is always at least a hole to the trunk there, and I can just reach in and grab my bag and rescue my key.

I know you can see where this is going.

Evidently, the Malibu engineers felt there was absolutely no reason anyone would ever need access to the trunk from inside the vehicle. And Google confirmed, that indeed, the only access to the trunk was through the key fob.

Which can’t be accessed if it is in the trunk.

Google does have some stories of other unfortunate souls, who obviously had also challenged good old Murphy to a duel, and they had been successful in retrieving their keys by contacting OnStar.

So I climbed back into the car and pushed the handy OnStar button.

But of course I do not own the vehicle I am sitting in, so my friendly OnStar tech had no way of knowing that I was actually the owner of the bag I say I am trying to access in the trunk and not some nefarious character trying to purloin someone else’s wallet.

So they have to contact the car rental agency, which takes a very long time to accomplish.

We finally have three people on the phone trying to work this out, and the car rental person is telling me that the only option we have is for them to send a tow truck, since the keys are locked in the car and we can’t get in: I am explaining that key is actually locked in the trunk, and that I am actually in the car at that moment: and then she is saying there is no way to pop the trunk: when all of a sudden I hear the trunk pop.

I think the OnStar tech took pity on me.

I quickly thank the rental car rep, tell her I’m good to go, and jump out and rescue my key.

The day can go on!! Take that Murphy!

I’m only a few minutes late for my meeting, the meeting goes off without a hitch as does my two hour drive back to the airport.

I’m thinking Murphy was so impressed with my ingenuity that he has moved on.

Then I get to the airport.

I go up to the desk to check in and inquire if there is any way to get on the earlier connecting flight out of Chicago. The ticket agent actually laughs and says everything is completely sold out due to fog in Chicago earlier that morning that has wreaked havoc on the flight schedules.

No big deal. I check in for my original flight, check my bag and head to security.

I make it through security and head into the gift shop to get a water and a snack. I’m just checking out, when my phone dings with an alert.

My flight to Chicago has just been cancelled.

Since I already know that all the other flights are already sold out, I jump on the phone with our company travel agents and they scour every airline for any available seats.

They find only one seat that will get me home before Sunday. And it costs roughly as much as a semester of college.

But I have no choice, as I HAVE to be home the next morning to continue my fight with the insurance company from having been hit by a car on my bike nearly two years ago.

(Oh, have I not told you that story yet??)

They book the seat, and I go back out to check in to have them retrieve my bag (because of course this is one of those times I had checked a bag). There are lines a mile long at every customer service counter, the baggage claim office and the check in counter, and as I join this line I am seriously concerned that by the time my bag is radioed for and retrieved, I will miss my other flight.

After nearly 30 min, I get within one person of the front and take a chance. I tell the guy in front of me, that I have already been re-booked on another flight, and I promised not to steal his seat, but that I just needed them to get my bag back so I could make my new flight.

Luckily he was a kind individual and let me go first.

They radio for my bag, and unbelievably my bag appears at baggage claim in a record 10 min.

I am rechecked in, back through security and at my new gate with time to spare.

I never thought I would say United saved the day.

I make it to Houston, change terminals and board my plane to Denver without further incident.

I land in Denver 3 hours later than planned, but it looks like I’ll make it home without further incident.

Until I look at my phone.

I have a little weather alert that notifies me there are currently “light snow showers” in Denver.

Huh. I had been looking at the weather and it was 60 degrees earlier in the day without even the slightest hint of snow mentioned in the forecast.

Like any good Coloradan, however, I know we can go from summer to winter in 3 hours or less without any warning, and I am not too worried about “snow showers”, so I think nothing of it.

I collect my bag (which despite the bright orange “Star Priority” tag on it, and the small fortune I paid for my seat, which should have ensured it was one of the first bags off the plane, is nearly the last- of course!), get to my car and head out on the long drive home.

It may, indeed, have been snow showers for the first few minutes, but those “showers” quickly turned into a full on blizzard which is making it very challenging to see 3 feet in front of you.

Murphy is having himself a good laugh by now I am sure.

The weather and the roads only get worse the further I drive, until you can no longer tell where the lanes on the road are because we are driving through at least 4 inches of snow on the highway.

Let me just take a minute to say, we have not had any winter in Colorado until the past two weeks, so I would assume the snow plow drivers would be happy for some work and working overtime to keep our roads clear. However, the only plow I saw in the entire drive from Denver, was one that was plowing the frontage road that runs beside the highway ( and where there were no cars driving) , but not the highway itself. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for this in some alternate universe.

Thankfully, I make it home safely, despite passing several accidents, cars off the road, and one that is up on it’s side and blocking the lanes of traffic.

I crawl into bed just before midnight, and hope that I have survived my Murphy’s Law day and he will move on to more worthy opponents tomorrow.