As I was trying to check in curbside Tuesday to avoid the huge line at the ticket counter inside, the guy looked at my reservation and then started laughing. I should have known then that my flight home would be inconvenient at the very very best.
I went inside and stood at the back of the huge line because Mr. Happy the curbside guy told me he couldn't help me with my connection outside. I mentioned to the woman in front of me that my flight was delayed three hours and she said "Same for everyone here. This line hasn't moved in twenty minutes." I almost started crying but instead got a little bit too ranty about airlines and how I've never had a good experience with American and how it's always something and it sucks because there's really nothing you can do about it. She just stared at me, afraid to make any sudden moves.
Finally, she asked if I needed to borrow her phone. Gratefully I called Ryan and told him what was going on. I told him I'd probably just stay another night in Arlington and try again in the morning. I was disappointed but it seemed like an easy enough plan (albeit one that involved taking Charlie on the metro by myself with all my bags and all the escalator peril that comes with that). When I got to the counter they put me on a Continental flight that would get me home at 10:30. Perfect.
I called Ryan and told him the great news then went to the gate to wait for my plane (I should also tell you that I was flagged at security and made to stand in a glass cage with Charlie while they searched my bags, found Charlie's sunscreen, which I had forgotten about, and then eyed me as if I was Osama Bin Ladin himself). The plane was supposed to take off at 5:55. The monitor above the door said "6:00" but I figured it wasn't anything to worry about. At 5:50 the plane still hadn't arrived at the gate and I started getting nervous because we would be going through the sprawling Houston airport where Ryan and I missed our connection on our honeymoon because that stupid airport is just too big and you have to run and take a little train and it is just a mess.
I asked at the ticket counter about the delay and they told me that I should still have 20 minutes to make my connection and that that would be plenty of time. And as a helpful backup, they'd booked me on a flight to THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE SIDE OF THE STATE FROM WHERE I LIVE. I tried to remain calm as I explained "I don't know where that is and it is certainly not anywhere close to where I need to go." He said I should think about flying out in the morning.
I called Ryan again and told him the news (actually I screeched it, laden with swear words and sobbing into the phone). He said I should try to get to Houston because that would give me the most options for getting home the next day and told me he would find me a good hotel with cribs and he'd even call our friends who live there and ask them if they would like to have dinner with me.
We got on the plane an hour late and then it sat on the runway for half an hour. We finally took off and I started to relax, grateful to finally be going somewhere. About an hour in, the pilot came on and told us that we were in a holding pattern over Atlanta and that we would land at 9:15 in Houston IF we didn't get put into another holding pattern forcing us to land in SAN ANTONIO so we didn't run out of gas (really not making this up, and yes it does get worse).
The lady next to me, who was finishing up her second Bloody Mary, and I decided to rent a car in San Antonio and drive to Austin if that happened. Then she ordered coffee with Bailey's.
Finally we land in Houston at 9:15. The woman at the gate told me that my next flight had already taken off and that I should wait there for a new boarding pass. I waited for a few minutes and someone else came and looked at the computer and told me my flight was still there and "if I hurried, I could make it." So Charlie and I ran through the airport, got on the little train, ran some more, and made it to the gate for my next flight which was delayed until 10:15. I collapsed into a chair, relieved that we were going to make it home that night.
After sitting there for quite some time, I asked someone for the time. It was 10:30. The airline got on the intercom and told us that our plane was there and we had a flight attendant but that they were still looking for a pilot because for some reason our pilot had GONE HOME FOR THE NIGHT. I finally got Charlie to sleep by strapping him into the carseat and walking 87373 slow laps around the waiting area repeating "Sleeeeeepy boy, goooooo to sleep." Eventually we got on the plane.
We got home after one o'clock in the morning. Charlie was awake a total of 45 minutes the next day during his five hours of daycare. I drank more caffienated beverages than is recommended by the ADA for a week and only managed to slog through one blog post and no work.