June 30th, 2005

Traveling Is Fun

There’s a reason they call those things at airports “terminals.” If you spend the night in one, you’ll feel as close to dead as you can get without being infected with the T-virus.

(For you non-gamers out there, the “T-virus” is what turns the residents of Raccoon City into zombies. My suggestion to you: avoid exposure to the T-virus. Also: avoid spending the night in an airport terminal.)

Kat and I are headed to Florida to meet up with Matt, who has been there since Tuesday. It is apparent that US Airways is dead-set against us being in Florida, for whatever reason. I can only imagine we have done them some sort of wrong in the past, and this is their way of letting us know. Frankly, a tersely worded letter would have sufficed.

Our Wednesday evening flight was delayed, and then delayed some more. We received a “courtesy call,” (so-named because “take that, you hoser! call” would have seemed impolite) apprising us of the situation and asking us what we would like to do: take the delayed flight and spend the night in Charlotte, NC, or wait and take an early morning flight out of Indianapolis. We opted for the Charlotte route, thinking we might score some airline-sponsored free hotelage, or at the very worst, have to spend a few hours in the terminal. We figured Charlotte was closer to Florida than Indy was, so why not at least head that way.

When we finally boarded, we found the plane to be sparsely populated. In fact, the row right behind us was empty, so we moved back, largely because it was an exit row and it offered more leg room. I sat by the window and studied furiously what procedures I would take should the need arise. Manning the exit window is serious business, and I practiced the motions at least three times to be sure I could perform my duties when called upon. (For the interested, my duties were to grab the lower handle firmly, pull down the top handle, remove the panel, and then throw the handle out through the now-open wall panel. When I say I practiced these maneuvers, I do not mean that I actually removed the panel – I only mimed it. I did grasp the handles, but did not pull them nor eject any panels.)

We arrived in Charlotte unscathed, if a little disappointed that I had not needed to put into practice those things I had learned. Upon arrival, we found that we could get a discount on a hotel room, but not a free room. Calling the hotel revealed that “discount” meant “still $60 bucks” and we opted to stay the night in the terminal. After all, our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:45 a.m., and it was already past midnight, so it didn’t seem too bad an idea.

Right off we were told we couldn’t sleep in any area behind the security gates. We’d have to fend for ourselves in the section of the building where any Joe could wander in off the street and openly mock us for sleeping. After a bit of searching, we found a spot behind a Jaguar (the car version, not the feline version) that also had an electrical outlet. The Jag was on display in the terminal to encourage people to drive away and not stay there, I think. Regardless, it was about as comfortable a spot to be as we were going to find.

At this point, the evening took an ugly couple of turns:

  • no available wireless Internet access
  • strangely, no DVD-playing software on my laptop, even though I was sure there used to be
  • NONE of the DVDs I brought with me (8+) had the freeware DVD player that ALL DVDs used to come with
  • the terminal was COLD. Storage locker cold.

Not good.

Some of our fellow travelers found their way to our Jaguar-infested corner, and huddled in the chairs and on the floor, trying to find some comfort. One of them offered us a newspaper to use as an ersatz blanket.

Kat, as is her her wont, did some searching and was able to dig up some airplane pillows and blankets for us. They weren’t much, but they beat the nothing (and the newspaper) we had up to that point. I set an alarm on my phone for 6:45, an hour before the flight, laid on the floor, and went to sleep.

Apparently, the Charlotte airport starts to get busy around 4:00 in the morning on Thursdays. I’m not sure how those parents were able to get their kids up and to the airport by that time, but I do know I wholeheartedly support any laws our politicians would like to draft to outlaw this sort of behavior in the future.

Having little choice, we decided to seek refuge at the gate where our plane would be leaving in almost three hours. And that’s where I sit, still with no wireless Internet access, and with the sound of snoring from a gentlemen sleeping on chairs more than 20 yards away.

Ah, vacation.

(Note for the curious: this entry was retro-posted when I finally did get Internet access (7:30 Saturday night). That should answer the obvious questions you have.)

5 Comments on “Traveling Is Fun”

  1. hp says:

    There are those that would point out you could sleep on your own floor for free, without the hassle of flying anywhere. But then you'd miss the whole relaxation aspect of vacationing.

  2. Meags says:

    You should have come to Texas!

  3. John Clark says:

    Yeah, but it was worth it all just to see us, wasn't it? :)

  4. Brian Arnold says:

    "I sat by the window and studied furiously what procedures I would take should the need arise."

    That line so totally made me think of Roast Beef (from Achewood, not the meat). I could see him doing that.

    That's a rough trip.

  5. the obscure says:

    15 bonus points for using "ersatz".

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