I should know better than try to travel in November.
This last Saturday I was scheduled to travel to Europe for a business meeting. It was the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, so I wasn’t surprised when I got to the airport to find the parking garage nearly empty. Most everyone was probably where they were supposed to be, though I knew the next day, Sunday, would be travel hell as people tried to return home or go back to school after the four day break.
Things were looking good as I got through security and headed to my gate. I grabbed lunch and still had two hours to spare before my flight.
It was a sunny cold day though rather windy, but flights seemed to be coming and going as scheduled. There was this one AirTran flight that was delayed and they reminded us every five minutes of that situation via the public address system. Then one of the announcements was a little different, it was for the 3:21 flight to Newark, and that was where I was going to connect.
I went up to the counter and learned that there was a little mechanical problem with the plane while it was still in Newark. Evidently they had knocked off or damaged some rubber pieces on the plane while the were deicing it. We were to sit tight and wait 25 minutes.
In less time than that, the gate attendant made an announcement that anyone with a connection time before 6:30 should come up. Mine was 6:50, but I figured that since international flights board earlier, I should check out the situation.
When I got to the desk, there was a teenage girl crying and the attendant was trying to find out what was wrong.
“Are you upset because you won’t get to Cincinnati today?”
“Then why are you crying?”
“Because I don’t want to leave.”
“So you want to stay here in Rochester?”
So they agreed that she could leave the airport and grab a flight the next day.
I got to up to the gate, promised the man that I wasn’t going to cry no matter what he told me, and found out that I would definitely miss my connection. Moreover, even though there was a later flight to Frankfurt, I might miss that as well. Rescheduling for the next day was hopeless. So I decided, reluctantly, to cancel my flight and went home. I called the travel agent and got my hotel reservation canceled, and sent email apologies to my colleagues in Europe.
This is the third time this has happened to me in the last 10 years, missing a flight to Europe because of mechanical or weather problems. I always feel very bad and guilty about it, though I know the situation is out of my control. I even tried to allow an extra day in this case.
I had other work to do on a work project and spent most of Sunday and a good deal of Monday handling it because of a tight deadline.
On Monday afternoon I got a call from a friend and coworker in Europe:
“Do you know that person you were supposed to meet?”
“She never made it here, she got stuck in snow at the airport in Frankfurt.”
So it’s good I didn’t go. I missed two cross-Atlantic flights and had more time to work on my project. I suspect we’ll try again in January, but ultimately things worked out for the best in terms of my not travelling. It would have been good to have that meeting, but we’ll get around to that.