I looked forward to the family wedding get-together for months. All of my children would arrive from different locations for a few precious days of fun and celebration. We arranged for my two daughters’ flights to arrive close to ours for convenient pick-ups at the airport. We planned connecting flights with an hour between – just enough time to make it to the new gate; not too much time waiting around in airport lobbies. All details considered. Everything under control.
Ha! I should have know better. It is never that easy…
My husband and I departed on our first flight 20 minutes late. We ran to our next gate – we are too old for that – but sprinted on our flight just in time. Our luggage was not as fortunate.
My oldest daughter learned at check-in that her flight was re-routed to another city, and her connection would arrive a few hours later than planned. Not that big of an inconvenience – just an unplanned additional trip to the airport. We would be going to pick up our luggage anyway.
It was my “baby” who had the hardest time. Her first flight also departed late for some unknown reason. Although she and two others from her flight rushed through the airport for the connection and arrived with 10 minutes to spare, an impending storm motivated the crew to take off 10 minutes early(!)… and leave those three passengers behind.
My girl called out-of-breath and frustrated as she waited in line for a seat assignment on the next flight out. So began our saga. The plane was supposed to take off in a few hours, but as a dark, windy, torrential rain came down, the flight was delayed… and delayed… and delayed again. Finally, a gate change, new pilot, and many hours later, she texted me that she had boarded her flight. (Sigh of relief!)
But… a few minutes later, a call confirmed the worst. The pilot announced on the plane that he already had too many hours for the day. He could not fly that night… and neither could the passengers.
Everyone grumbled as they packed up belongings and left the plane to form long, angry lines at the gate desks to check on options… for the next day. By the time my daughter received a seat on a flight – for 6:00 PM (!), it was the middle of the night. Many others were stranded. Every nearby hotel was full, and I did not want her leaving the airport alone.
The airport would be her refuge. Grateful for a few piled airport blankets in the empty halls, my sweet girl made a bed in a corner that she assured me was lit and safe. I promised to keep the phone by my ear. I could “only” pray, nothing more. I don’t like that. Neither of us slept much. Morning could not come fast enough.
Around 6:00 AM, a fellow McDonald’s patron warmly greeted her with, “You look like you slept here last night too”. At least she had company, and food, and a list of stand-by flights to attempt before the evening.
Once again, we tracked each flight with apps and text messages and emotion until – miraculously – she boarded the second stand-by flight and was on her way to the party!
I was thrilled to meet her at the airport with a big hug! I was also very proud of her level head, stable emotions, good attitude, and instinctive wisdom in adapting to the change of plans.
I wish I could say I always respond that well!
How do you handle changes and out-of-control situations?