Monday, January 28, 2008

The United experience

Hours spent in an airport within the past 24 hours: 6.8
Hours spent on a plane within the past 24 hours: 5.6
Hours spent going to and from an airport within the past 24 hours: 2

When the girl at the United Airlines desk in Eugene abruptly informed me that I WOULD make my connecting flight in Denver (in the tone of voice one generally reserved for disruptive school children) I decided to take the zen approach. My flight had already been delayed, rerouted, and reissued at least 4 times in the past 12 hours, so I really did want to believe the girl. Pointing out that I am older and more bitchy than she could ever hope to be, would have been pointless (but possibly very satisfying.) Instead, I stepped back and waited. And waited...

The good people of Eugene are not used to snow. As luck would have it, the very day I intended on leaving the fine county of Lane, Oregon, the Northwest was hit by a snowstorm, the likes of which had not been seen since at least 2001. Shops and restaurants posted signs:


The wide-eyed girl at the hotel remarked, "It's been coming down THIS hard since 7AM!" I squinted and looked out the window, noting a few fluffy flakes slowly drifting down. This was all earlier in the day. The snow stopped around noon. My flight was at 8pm. Delays, I suppose, are to be expected. Eugene Oregon had a whopping two to four inches on the ground. Just about everyone, including the shuttle drivers who taxied me back and forth from the airport between delayed flights, were scared #$%&less by the roads.

But I digress. I was now back at the airport. I waited an hour for the good people of Eugene airport to de-ice the plane. We finally boarded. In the brief minute I spent outside (the terminals don't actually connect to the planes in Eugene, one has to walk outside to board the plane à la Casablanca) the weather was clear, sunny and downright balmy. Even so, we were given a second round of de-icing and a coat of orange antifreeze before finally taking off. As we approached Denver I began to silently curse the United Airlines girl with the snarky attitude. My connecting flight was scheduled to leave in 20 minutes and we hadn't even descended. The flight attendant made some announcement about letting people with immediate connecting flights off first. Apparently everyone on the plane had an immediate connecting flight because all passengers leapt out of their seats once the seatbelt sign turned off. I had approximately 7 minutes to sprint from gate 89 to gate 46, arriving slightly sweaty, just before the plane took off. While catching my breath I briefly forgot to curse the United Airlines girl. I am that out of shape.

In any event, I arrived about 17 hours later than originally planned. All due to a little snow on the runway...thankfully this shouldn't happen again until at least 2014.


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