Let's see... where do I begin this story? I'll begin in the present. I'm writing from the Presidents' Club in Houston's Intercontinental Airport. I shouldn't be here. I should be 45 minutes into my flight to Newark. But that flight was cancelled. Continental sent me a Trip Alert email about it last night at 11:15 but, silly me, I didn't check email when I woke this morning at 4:30. This is what the email said:
At 11:15 pm 23JUL, CO89 24JUL from IAH to EWR is cancelled. You are now confirmed on CO1844 25JUL departing 2:30 pm, IAH to BTV via CLE. The flight is now estimated to arrive BTV at 8:42 pm. Obtain boarding pass and complete flight details or view other options such as standing by for another flight at an airport kiosk, Service Center or your departure gate.
Basically, since this morning's flight is cancelled, Continental has me on a flight tomorrow that would get me to Burlington, VT, tomorrow night, 36 hours later. I could fly to London and back by that time.
I'm on standby for the next flight to Newark, which, fingers crossed, will arrive in time for the afternoon connection to Burlington and I'll arrive to my destination today. If not, then I guess I'll go to the office. At least I'll enjoy that I'm wearing jeans and none of the fashion police at the office can get on me about it because, hey, I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE TODAY.
UPDATE 3:30 p.m. EST: I made it! I was the last standby passenger called and we sat on the runway for an hour and a half in the rain before taking off but that's all behind me now. I'm writing from the Presidents' Club in Newark airport, sitting by the window, eating crackers and cheese. My flight to Burlington, VT leaves in an hour. As I look out at New York City, I wonder 26 of my fellow fliers from Houston are doing right now, the 16 young ladies and the ten chaperones who've guided them through etiquette classes and now travel with them to NYC for a long weekend of sight-seeing, dinners and even meeting Miss America. Meeting that group completely makes the cancellation and rain delay worth every minute of my time.
UPDATE 6:00 p.m. EST: Oh, hey, here we are again. I've now been traveling - correction, trying to travel - for 12 hours. I left my house 12 hours ago and when I think about it, all I've done is move my waiting from one Presidents' Club in Houston to another in Newark. A funny thing happened on the way to my 4:40 flight. Seems the aircraft was in Norfolk at the time. Rumor has it that the flight is on its way and my flight will leave at 6:45, but you know, I'm a bit gun shy. How can I really believe that after all the travel industry and I have been through together? I'm just not ready to trust yet.
So, here I sit in the pea soup of travelers: too cool for you teens with backpacks heading for Europe, families, business men and women, a few couples, etc., and guess what? They are all in the same stuck here place as me, that of waiting. And waiting. Some have been waiting for 24 hours. (I feel that I am fast on their heels.) This Presidents' Club is loud and a bit smelly and to be honest it reminds me of a mall food court. I'm hanging out by the windows with the businessmen, laptops and blackberries out, connected so that we don't have to participate in the mess around us. We're over to the side to make room for the many, many tired and cranky (loud) children spilling over the chairs and sitting on the floor. More than one set of parents is on more than their second glass of wine. The oddest of all though is two part: 1) my Pollyanna attitude is still in place; it's fading, to be sure, but it's still here; and 2) the woman who is comfortable enough to do yoga. On the carpet. Of the Presidents Club. In one of the busiest airports in the world. I think she's high on something.
Okay, kiddos, that's all for this episode. This weary traveler is moving on to her gate, with the ever-present albeit faint hope that a plane awaits her. Happy travels.