After checking in, printing boarding passes, and going through security we settled in at our gate. As we were walking up to our gate I heard a woman singing a kind of 'good morning' song over the loud speaker. That's something I'd never heard at an airport before.
Boarding time came and went. Then an announcement that our plane had a mechanical problem and was still being fixed. They had their best mechanic working on it and hopefully we would be ready to board in the next half hour.
Then another announcement that they were still working on the plane, and then an announcement that the flight was canceled. We were instructed to go to the ticket counter and start trying to find other flights.
At the ticket counter they had a line just for people from our flight that was moving extremely slowly and had very few people in it. There were a few grim faced first class passengers who got right into the priority line looking ready to demand their rights. But only a few of us coach class waiting in line. After a bit an agent handed us a paper with an 800 number that we could use to change flights by phone. Chuck quickly dialed that number and was told that our original flight was only delayed, not canceled, and we should go back to our gate and wait.
That meant going back through security, but it isn't nearly as scary the second time. So back to our original gate we went, and they confirmed that they were indeed still working on that plane. However they had no idea how long it might take. Maybe we would like to be registered to fly stand-by on a flight leaving at 1:10pm. The lady at the counter started instructing us on what we should tell the ticket agent if we weren't able to make that flight. Then she stopped herself and said, "Wait a minute. I'm working that flight. You don't have to remember anything because I will remember it for you." Yea!
The gate for that flight was close enough to our original gate that we could keep track of both from that area. Since there were so many people hoping to board that flight there were no seats available there, so we settled ourselves on the floor and shared an orange and some crackers and cheese.
Soon it was time to board the 1:10 flight. A woman's voice began singing a happy song welcoming the travelers to the flight. I looked up and it was our helpful ticket agent from the other gate. The flight was full. We went back to our original gate again and waited there until the nice gate lady finally announced that the plane could not be fixed. The new part they had brought in from another company would not fit correctly and they would have to wait for one of their own parts to be delivered.
We went to talk with her and she got busy on her computer. Our original flight pattern was to make our connection in Dallas, which was currently closed because of snow. She found us a flight from Miami to Chicago and a connecting flight home from there. The glitch was that we were at the Ft. Lauderdale airport, not the Miami airport. The other glitch was she could not guarantee us seats on that flight. It would still be standby. She told us that if we didn't get on that flight the airline would put us up for night. She provided us with a voucher to take a shuttle to the other airport. Then she muttered, "They have to get you seats. Here." She took our boarding passes back from us and grabbed an orange marker and made some cryptic symbol on both of our passes, shoved them back into the folder, and handed them to us.
We asked what time that flight left. She looked at her computer. Then she looked at her watch. Then she got an alarmed look on her face and she said with intensity, "You have to go now! Hurry! Go find the shuttle out front!"
Didn't exactly feel reassuring...
We started racing toward the front of the airport. Then Chuck paused and said, "Let's just give up for today and get the airline to put us up and start again tomorrow." I was doubtful that the airline would do that if we didn't even try. He agreed to keep trying.
We got to the front door and couldn't find the shuttle she described, but after asking questions we got to the right place and handed our voucher to a young man who coordinated shuttles. He looked at our voucher and asked about the time of our flight and then started acting very exasperated. He said that it was unlikely that he could get us there in time with the kind of shuttle the airline was paying for. We should have an express shuttle but the airline was only paying for a shared shuttle. It would make stops along the way. It would be slow.
Chuck was again ready to stop and take the motel. I still didn't believe they would give us a motel unless we showed up at Miami to claim it. He gave in again.
Our shuttle arrived. Our driver drove us directly to the Miami airport without stopping for anyone else first. The others in the shuttle all had to wait for us, I guess. We were already checked in so we went straight to security and then to our gate, where about half the passengers were still in line to board. Chuck went up to the desk where new boarding passes were already printed up and waiting for us, and we were seated together next to a window! I think the singing gate attendant must have made a phone call.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. The plane to Chicago was large enough to offer tv shows...an episode each of "Office" and of "Parks and Recreation". The second flight was on a very small plane.
We had to find someone to pick us up since our arrival times had changed, so my brother, Larry, came to the airport to get us. Thanks!
So we are home. I found myself very thankful today for the time we set aside for meditation and prayer while we were gone. There have already been times when I realized that that time to regroup last week was helping me today.