I’m Sure It Would Be My Kind Of Town If I Could Ever Get There

So remember in the last post when I told you that Melanie and I were going to Chicago today?


This afternoon I was pulling into the parking garage at the Birmingham airport when Linda from Tyndale called and said they were getting alert messages that the flight from Chicago to Birmingham – the one that would eventually take me to Chicago – had been cancelled. I wasn’t overly alarmed because I had updated all my contact info with United just this morning and hadn’t received an email about flight changes or anything like that, but I told Linda I’d check just as soon as I got in the airport and let them know the news.

When I got to the United counter there were two very angry-looking people right in front of me, and I thought, OH. I DO NOT BELIEVE THIS IS GOING TO END WELL. So I told the lady behind the counter that I needed to check on my flight to Chicago, and I had barely finished my sentence when she said, “Yeah. About that. Not gonna happen. We canceled it this morning about 10 o’clock.”

As an aside, I would just like to interject what would have been a super-helpful gesture on the part of the United travel alert system: SENDING OUT AN EMAIL WITH A NOTIFICATION OF THE CANCELED FLIGHT.

Even still, I know how tricky flight schedules get when there are storms, so I said, “Well, could you just put me on the next flight?”

“Sure,” the woman replied. “It leaves tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock, goes through Charlotte, and will get you to Chicago around 10:50.”

Considering that I have a meeting in the morning at 8, that was not my favorite option.

The next ten minutes were a flurry of texts and phone calls and brainstorms and possible alternate plans. I had just about decided that my best option was to go home and then fly out in the morning, but on a whim I walked down to the Southwest counter and said, “Hey. Do y’all have a way to get me to Chicago tonight?”

They could not have been nicer. The non-stop from Birmingham to Chicago was full, but they could fly me to Tampa, then to Chicago, and I would be there by 9:25. That was our best option, so I got my ticket, rushed through security (the flight was scheduled to leave in about 25 minutes), and ran (okay. I didn’t exactly run. but I did walk really fast.) to the gate so that I could pick up my boarding pass. Just a few minutes later they started pre-boarding.

And then we waited.

And we waited.

And we waited.

And then we found out that our plane had a tire that needed to be replaced.

For some reason I have never thought about the fact that planes get flats.

Finally – a little over an hour later – we boarded the plane. But by that point I knew that I was going to be too late to make my connection in Tampa, so I had to get switched to a later flight from Tampa to Chicago. The Southwest people were so helpful that I can’t even complain about it; besides, planes don’t like storms, and there were storms all over the country today.

Oh! This has nothing to do with anything, really, but I was so delighted by this sign next to the play area in the Birmingham airport.

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 9.27.02 PM

It might as well say, “HAVE FUN SITTING, KIDS.”


We got to Tampa about an hour before the final leg of my flight, and I was tickled to death that I might be in Chicago by 9. But then I looked at one of those departure board thingies and saw that the second flight was delayed until 11:20. And that is why I am now typing this blog post from the comfort of Gate C40 at the Tampa International Airport.

(By the way, Tampa, you do have a very lovely airport.)

(And I appreciate the little study carrells that also serve as charging stations.)

(I don’t think I spelled “carrells” correctly, but I’m too lazy to check so I’m just going to go with what I have.)

Right now we’re scheduled to leave at 11:05, so FINGERS CROSSED that I get to Chicago tonight / tomorrow morning. Apparently the plane that is taking us to Chicago is on its final approach, so I have big hopes for that plane and also its tires. Not to mention its engines and whatnot.

Hope y’all have a great Friday!

p.s. I hope this post doesn’t sound whiny. I am so grateful that I get to even go to Chicago. And, you know, write books.

p.p.s. Air travel is almost always humbling, isn’t it? :-)

p.p.s. Here are five things I’m grateful for right now: I have a window seat, Hazel barks like a beagle and it makes me laugh, I get to see Melanie tomorrow, my husband is so supportive of the writing stuff, and Alex will have something funny to tell me when I get home. Because he always does.

p.p.p.s. I feel better now. :-)

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  1. Oh, bless you! I would be so upset with United too but I’m so glad the Southwest people were able to take such good care of you. I hope you get there tonight without any further drama.

  2. As I am writing this you should be on your way. Hope you get there safe and sound and get plenty of rest before your meeting.

    • ok, just saw the time post, maybe not – I forgot about the hour difference – it’s already 11:25 where I am.

  3. When you finally arrive, i hope my city treats you well!

  4. Love me some Southwest! Moving to Cali this past summer from Bham, I’ve learned to love them very much!
    That play sign at the Bhm airport tickles me, too! My Mother in Law works in security at the airport, so I feel almost like we have a free pass to burn off extra energy before our flights (my 7 yr old and 4 yr old that is).
    Can’t wait to hear all about the trip on the next podcast!
    Safe travels!

  5. Dear Late Nights at Near Empty Airports,

    Thanks for making sure we’re never too comfortable,

    Love –
    All of us!

  6. What a fiasco! Love the kid “play” area sign. What the?

  7. Casey Springer says:

    Oh the irony. Y’all just talked about how you didn’t mind flying and here you are. Praying its a fun trip anyway!

  8. I commend you on being so positive in the face of a travel nightmare! I sure hope you arrived safe and sound!! Have fun in Chicago!!

  9. Karen Beymer says:

    Well I’m reading this at 11:35 am Friday so I hope you have arrived in Chicago,
    Enjoyed a lovely breakfast, hopefully with Melanie & on your way, in or finished with your
    Meeting. :) pray it was successful. Enjoy you time with Melanie, nothing much better
    Than girlfriend time. Blessings!

  10. So sorry you ended up here in Tampa. Glad you liked our airport. I do too but I thought I might be bias. Happy travels and fun with Melanie.

  11. It’s 11:04 am Friday here in Houston. Praying you got to Chicago safe and sound. Y’all have fun! I love Chicago. It’s my kind of town.

  12. Glad Southwest came through for you (albeit, a little late) and were super nice! My sister is a flight attendant with them and she loves working for them. Safe travels home and have fun in Chicago!

  13. Sherri Len says:

    Go, Southwest! Not whiney, just stating the facts with great humor! I love your outlook – always finding the funny/ironic in the everyday, mundane, and sometimes aggravating aspects of life. And, even though “carrell” has only one “l” (I had to look it up!), I was tickled to see a word from my elementary school days. :)

  14. I just love Southwest–they’ve never let me down. But where’s your luggage?

  15. I think you are a very nice delayed passenger! And Southwest is good to their customers though United has treated me well in the past too.
    Our last trip (on our anniversary which was already set to take 8 hours) took over 12 hours and I thought the last leg of it was going to turn dangerous…. We had finally boarded after many delays along with all the others on board and it was almost midnight. People were weary and grumbling and groaning already but then the steward got on the phone thingy to make the announcement that we might have a flat tire! I thought there would be a riot! I had already been praying that folks would be able to keep their cool through our last hour of the flight. They came up with the plan that if we de-board and they check the tire, then HOPEFULLY we could all just re-board and be on our way…. Well, thanks be to God that is what happened. Then they offered free cocktails to whoever wanted them. We got to our destination past 1am new time. Whew! Needless to say it was an anniversary we won’t long forget.

    So, here’s hoping you have a very uneventful trip home. I hope your meeting went well!

  16. You have a much better attitude about all this than I would. I hope you have a lovely time.

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  18. Oh, Sophie, I live in Tampa. I would have so loved to sit with you and keep you company while at the airport! Glad Southwest treated you well!

  19. Cheryl B says:

    You don’t sound whiney – and I love how you found humor and things to be thankful for in the midst of your travel predicament. We had a flight delayed due to a bad tire too! What always worries me is how bad a shape was that tire when the plane landed? My husband says airports, emergency rooms, and the DMV are the equalizers of society. Hope you enjoyed Chicago once you arrived :)