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Another from the archives…July 2010.

Trip type: Personal

Airline: Delta

Route: BOS-MSP

For any readers who have taken the Bar exam (or any put-upon spouses who have lived through the fun), you’ll recall (undoubtedly with a shudder) how riddled with anxiety you were in the days leading up to it.

Now imagine that the last weekend before the bar you’re attending one of your best friend’s weddings. Then imagine this:

It’s Sunday, the morning after the wedding, and we’re due to leave Boston on a direct flight home at 6pm (E’s family is on the east coast so we wanted to stay a little longer to spend some time with them). At 11:30, I receive an automated call from Delta saying our flight is canceled and that we’ve been rebooked for tomorrow (aka Monday, aka the day before the Bar) going through Atlanta.

Immediate response: No.

Naturally, I immediately fall apart. I still, however, insist I will be the one to call Delta demanding a better resolution. I call Delta in tears telling them that we must reach Minneapolis tonight. Luckily, they are able to book us on two of the last three seats available. We have to leave almost immediately and connect through Reagan but we should make it home that day.

Off to the airport we go and E suggests we go to the Delta lounge in Boston’s A Terminal for some pre-flight drinks. The A Terminal is broken into two parts with an underground tunnel connecting either side. Our flight was on one side and the lounge was on the other. Nothing can ever be easy.

After a glass (or two…hard to remember) of wine, I’m feeling much better about life in general. We head back to the other side of the terminal to catch our connection to D.C. and find that the tunnel has been shutdown. Completely. As in, we’re on the moving sidewalk and nearly fall into a group of people as we come off of it because everyone has been halted so abruptly.

The crowd is tensely whispering to each other and it’s clear nobody has any idea what’s going on. There are some TSA folks lingering around acting as the barricade keeping us from the other side but they’re tight lipped. About 20 minutes in, I’m ready to have a conniption when they suddenly release the throng. No explanation given but hey, we’re on our way to the gate so I’m willing to let it go.

Finally aboard the Barbie jet, I’m praying we can just get to D.C. and connect home. The plane is so tiny we actually had to climb up the stairs and, as E and I are in the front row, we’re nearly knee-to-knee with the sole flight attendant when she tucks into her jump seat. We’re just about ready to push when she gets a call from the pilots telling her there’s weather trouble in the mid-Atlantic and D.C. is not accepting flights for the foreseeable future. Neat. After another tense 20 minute wait, D.C. apparently reopens and we’re able to leave (it’s funny how long 20 minutes can feel when you have no idea if you’re ever going to move).

We land in D.C. and as we come off the jetway and into the airport I see the telltale signs of a day of terrible mid-Atlantic weather: it looks like a refugee zone. (I ended up chatting with a woman who’d been at Reagan since 8am (it’s about 5pm at this point) trying to get to Atlanta. And she was with a small child. Note to self: It can always be worse.))

Now comes the fun of flying through Reagan where flights are bounced from gate to gate constantly. There were two flights to Minneapolis that afternoon, one at 4pm and one at 7pm. We’re on the 7pm but the 4pm hasn’t even left yet so I’m not feeling very optimistic about an on-time departure. Watching the flight board was useless as our flight went from one gate to another to disappearing altogether at one point. Finally, E suggested we split up and stand in line at each of the two counters we’d variously seen listed as hosting our flight (we needed seat assignments since we’d been added so late to the flight).

As I’m standing in my line across the concourse, I strike up a conversation (obviously) with some guy who tells me he’s a consultant who flies this route every Sunday and has yet to see a flight leave a.) on time, or b.) from it’s originally scheduled gate. Comforting.

Finally, there’s an announcement that the 4pm flight will leave from Gate 12 (where E is in line) at 8pm and the 7pm will leave immediately after). By the grace of g-d, E stays in line despite this announcement and when the gate agent comes back to say that there are 10 extra seats on the flight and the first 10 people in line will get them, the first thing to go right all day does and we get on the plane.

Despite my seatmate telling me the flight is Detroit-bound as some kind of sadistic joke, everything goes smoothly as we head to MSP. Funnily enough, for all the craziness we endured, we end up making it home only an hour later than we would have on our original flight.

(And E passed the bar.)