|Judith Whitehead lives in Amherst N.Y. and has worked in the|
medical field of ophthalmology for over 30 years.
Today she blogs about flying the friendly skies of stand-by..
Greeting from California!
I have been flying all over the country for the last 50 years and amazingly have never had my
Reservations’ cancelled because of the weather; well, there is a first for everything they say. Last week
we had planned a trip to California to attend some engagements and visit with family…a long awaited
vacation to escape the cold tundra of Buffalo. We were surprised with a winter blizzard that froze
everything including the airline schedule. At 3am on the morning we were to leave, we were called by
Southwest cancelling our flight. The thought of being stuck in Buffalo after all our planning was
extremely disappointing. Our only option was to go to the airport that was re opening later in the day
and sign up for “standby” ; it was a long shot with one stipulation, we had to be present when the
flight was announced.
We decided to lighten our carry on, take the bare minimum and get to the airport to camp out. Even
parking our car was difficult because of the heavy snowfall and the lot attendant had to plow us a space to
store the car. We waited 4 hours in the airport until the flight was called; we were told to wait until
everyone had boarded and then we would be called at the end and would get any seat left. We were no longer
flying the route we had booked but going to Baltimore and changing planes twice and ending up at the
wrong airport in California; we were willing to make the sacrifice just to get out west. I felt like a prize
winner when our names were called. All our efforts to take on a small carry on were for naught because
since we were last to board we had to check our bags, no room in the overhead left either. We were on
our way and relieved only to find out that the whole trip would continue to be standby and when we
then again made it to Atlanta we were asked to de-board the plane and got bumped. By this time it was
9pm at night and we were exhausted and disappointed. Of course our bags went ahead of us to Los
Angeles and we prayed that Southwest airlines would somehow get us out there still. After much
juggling we were offered Airtran that is owned by Southwest and would arrive in Los Angeles after our
luggage at 1 AM. Drained from our ordeal we were still happy to be on our way and hoped our luggage
would not be lost. We were to be the last flight leaving for the night which became delayed because of
a connection problem. Arriving at the airport we walked into a luggage bone yard with others that had
the same experiences and began to sift through the many bags to find ours. To my great relief with
some help from the airport staff , we did find them and then began to wait another hour for the
transportation to take us to our hotel. At this point it was four in the am and since we had been up from
our cancellation phone call that previous am at 3 we were taking on zombie features. After getting
settled in the hotel we collapsed into a deep sleep for 7 hours; the most I have ever slept since I am a
light sleeper and usually only get 4-5 hours a night anyway.
It was well worth it though to see sunny skies and feel the warm breezes of California escaping the cold
tundra of Buffalo; I must be getting old because these cold spells with “white out” driving are really getting
to me. I think we need to start planning our future and spending some extended time in the warmth
during our cold winter months. Now I know the true meaning of flying “standby” because we got to feel
the full effect on this trip. I must commend the airline for trying every effort to get us on our way; it was
a nightmare for many airlines that week and we were one of the lucky ones to get through.
|Judith and husband Steve in Hollywood!|