The flight to Cambridge last week for the standards program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government was easy and unremarkable. The designated hotel for the event was the Doubletree Suites which isn’t really too close to anything other than the Cambridge exit on the Massachusetts Turnpike. That didn’t make too much difference since KSG provided shuttles and I really didn’t have the time or the inclination for any nightlife beyond what the program provided. To be honest, I never do.
On Thursday afternoon I had a bit of a scare because I checked my return flight at 3:30 and found out that what was to be my 8:30 flight was now delayed two hours. That would have meant that we wouldn’t have landed until almost midnight and then it would be another 45 minutes until I got home. I steeled myself for this but had the consolation that the kids didn’t have school on Friday and so I wouldn’t have to get up at my usual 6:15 AM. Still, that 9 AM business call was looking awfully early.
There was another possibility, however. The earlier flight was also running two hours late and I had a chance to make that. I rushed to the airport, got my boarding pass for the later flight, got through security, and went to the gate. The earlier flight was not as delayed as they had said because another flight had mechanical difficulties and they snatched the crew. I was there in time but they were oversold. Nevertheless, I was told to hang around.
If you have to be delayed for a flight around dinner time, there are worse places to be than the US Air gate area at Logan airport in Boston. The reason? Legal Seafoods. This is a great restaurant and some of the best food you can find in an airport. If I did manage to catch that early flight, I would miss dinner at Legal, but it would mean dinner at home. The latter choice was and is always superior.
Since the flight had previously been announced as being two hours late, passengers had dispersed. The plane had been booked full and the agents were missing 7 or 8 passengers after they had boarded everyone else. After several announcements, they found most of them, including three guys who seemed to take their time getting to the gate from the bar. At this point an arithmetic problem arose. There were 48 boarding passes, but 49 people on the plane. They recounted. They looked on the plane. The recounted. Eventually they said I could have the final seat and so I hurried down to the plane.
One of this problems in this situation is that as you get on the plane and walk down the aisle, EVERYONE thinks the plane was delayed because of you. Not only that, but the remaining open seat was the one I considered the best, an exit row aisle. Who does this guy think he is?
They closed the plane door, there was no delay in taking off, and 90 minutes later I was home. Compared to what could have happened with the later plane, I had at least 5 hours of my life back. However, by the great bank account of lost time while flying, I am still a very rich man.
That was Thursday and today is Sunday. Two flights today with a 50 minute connection between them in Chicago. My first flight arrived 10 minutes after the second one left. Thunderstorms and wind at O’Hare. I always try to avoid flying situations when starting a trip where I will be on the last connection of the day. (When flying home, it is worth the risk.) If I miss that connection, it could mean the entire trip might get canceled. It might also mean that the trip get canceled and I am stuck in the connecting city.
When traveling internationally, you sometimes have to schedule your flights this way, but it can still mess you up. I had to cancel two trips to Germany this last year when Delta didn’t fly as expected to JFK airport in New York.
I’m writing this on the plane because they booked me on a later flight. I’ll get to the hotel around midnight and I have an 8 AM appointment. I’ll get home Tuesday night and then fly out on Wednesday night. After I get home on Friday, I should be able to stay put for at least 10 days. Somewhere in there my taxes will get done.