Well, we are on our 2nd honeymoon. We ought to be in a village north of London right now. Instead, I’m laying awake in a Denver hotel room after a poor night’s sleep.
Our flight left Saskatoon on time. We would have plenty of time in Denver–3 hours–to go through customs, claim our luggage, recheck our luggage, maybe have a bite to eat, go through security and board our flight to London.
It was not to be. As we approached Denver, our pilot advised us that the airport was closed due to thunder storms and no one was landing at that time. We circled Denver for quite some time–half an hour, maybe–and then diverted to Colorado Springs to refuel. We sat on the tarmac there for an hour or so, refueling and getting new papers to allow them to land in Denver.
We assumed that since no one was landing in Denver during the storm, all other flights would be delayed as well. However, by the time we disembarked in Denver, it was 7:45, and I was beginning to doubt that we’d make our 8:07 flight. When we got through customs and the baggage claim and rechecked our bags, we knew our flight was boarding and we had only minutes to spare. Unfortunately, our gate was a run across the length of a terminal and then a train ride to another terminal away. A couple of gentlemen who seemed to know what they were doing helped us with directions, but they seemed doubtful that we’d make it (as was the man at the slow security check). On the train to our gates he told us that they don’t hold flights and that by then they’d probably been calling our names over the P.A. for 10 minutes.
From what we could tell, the doors at our gate closed only moments before we rounded the corner. The airplane was sitting there, its door closed and the little passage/walkway to the door retracted. We banged on the doors for a while and waved frantically at the pilots, but evidently they are prohibited from reopening the doors.
So we wonder what could have made the difference: if we hadn’t missed our suitcase when it came out at the baggage claim, if we had spent more time running rather than speed walking, if security had been just a little faster, if we hadn’t let that other couple with an earlier flight go ahead of us to recheck luggage, if the rechecking attendant hadn’t been (as she appeared to be) dawdling and hemming and hawing about whether we could make it, if we had been a little more clear on our directions across the airport to our gate–if any of these things had happened, would we have made it onto our flight?
I spent some time in the customer service line, several hundred people strong, and growing, while Dixie made further attempts to get us entry to the flight.
She was not successful. She did, however, find out that as first class flyers we had access to a lounge area where there was a concierge who could rebook a flight for us. I have been feeling some mild guilt over the privilege of flying first class on this trip, but it’s never worse than when we get to jump the queue at security or to rebook a flight.
Of course, my feelings of guilt weren’t strong enough to insist to Dixie that we not use our privileges.
So here we are in a hotel in Denver, a 20 mile shuttle ride from the airport. I should be asleep, but I slept terribly on this Sleep Number bed. My cough is getting worse (I haven’t been sick beyond a headache or runny nose for more than a year! Why now?!). Dixie, on the other hand, was sawing logs (well, cutting a twig with a Swiss Army knife saw) for most of the night. Hopefully, I won’t get any worse and jet lag will be manageable, because we’ve already missed a day in England (we are scheduled to arrive a day later).
But…we’re trying to make the most of it. We are, after all, in a hotel in a foreign(ish) country without our children.