I got a call and an email at 11:17 this morning, letting me know my 4:05 flight out of Philadelphia, back to Manchester, was delayed until 5:20. We’re going camping in Baxter State Park this weekend, to climb Mt. Katahdin (long story, but getting access to a trailhead to climb Katahdin is so complicated, and it’s so far away, it’s easiest just to camp there) and had a highly optimistic plan to go spend tonight with our friends who are camping with us, at their condo in Portland, Maine. The plan was far enough advanced that Amy asked where she should make a dinner reservation for tonight. Knowing air travel, I said let’s play it by ear, my plane may be late, I’ll call you from the airport on Friday afternoon and let you know how it’s looking. I didn’t expect to be calling Amy as early as noon, letting her know I knew already that my plane would be too late for us to get to Portland tonight.
The late plane also changed the plan for getting me back to the airport from the training I did with the board of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The board meeting finished early, so my friend Carol who invited me to do the training decided to drive me to the airport, rather than have me take a shuttle. There was plenty of time so she continued talking about some plans with a few board members. Then I got another call and email at 12:56, saying the plane would be leaving at 4:40. Not quite so much time now, so Carol cut short her conversation and we left for the airport. By the time I got here, there was another call and message. Now the plane was leaving at 4:15. Perfect. Just time to do my usual airport Body Shop body butter stock up and get to the gate.
Except I got to the gate and there was another call and email — plane now leaving at 5:25. Then the man at the gate desk made an announcement that our plane was here, but not the crew. As soon as the crew got here, about 6:30, we would leave. I thought, okay, maybe I’ll go get some food. Then there’s another announcement — the plane that’s here has mechanical difficulties, so even when the crew gets here, we may not be able to leave.
I go get some food. When I get back to gate C24, there’s no one there. Another phone call and email — the plane is now scheduled to leave at 7:32. But where is everyone? The gate has been changed to C31. I go to C31 and sit down at a dining area to eat. I finish the half-way decent meal (waiting for the garlic eggplant and tofu with brown rice in the tiny Asian Bistro take-out nook and watching the cooks, cashier and customers was a people watching experience worthy of its own post) and go over to gate C31. The sign says the next flight is to Rochester. I go back to the one of the big departure boards, and the flight is still scheduled for 7:32, but it’s back at gate C24. I go back to C24 and talk to the man at the gate. The crew is here, there’s the plane, it’s been at the gate since about 5:15, but it’s not the plane we’ll be using, so either they’ll move this plane, or move us again to another gate. The 6:30 flight to Manchester, meanwhile, has been cancelled. A cheery customer offers to get some frozen yogurt for the man and woman who’ve been staffing the gate desk for over three hours now. Everyone else seems fairly glum.
But, here’s the bonus — the Philadelphia airport has free wifi!