Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Travelling In Winter

When I worked with the high school youth group they traditionally had their winter retreat President's Day weekend.  When I worked with the toy company, that was Toy Fair.  So, in my life there's been a lot of travel on that weekend, although it's not an official long weekend for me.  I often send up prayers to the weather gods, please don't let me be trapped anywhere.  (Okay, the friend's apartment I stayed in for Toy Fair would have been okay.)  So, when my dear friend from high school invited me to her wedding on that weekend, I built some padding into the plan.  I left Thursday, so if there was weather, I had an extra day to get there.  And since the weather cooperated I had a day to wander about St. Louis, checking out the light rail. 
The day of the wedding was very cold.  Beautiful but cold.  The ceremony was wonderful, and I hitched a ride with the sister of a bridesmaid so I have nothing to complain about since I was in a heated car while they took a quick batch of pictures outside. 
The reception was also great.  Given the snowfall predicted for the night originally got shifted to the next day, there was discussion of when everyone was leaving. I briefly pondered trying to see if the airlines would waive changes to let me go back early, but then decided given the weather there, and the weather here, it was maybe just best to stick with what I had.  (It helped that I had pre-emptively taken Tuesday off of work as a buffer.)  And well, Monday dawned a bit foggy in St. Louis, but planes were still leaving, but as I checked one more time before hotel check out, I saw that my flight had been cancelled. And some social media checking unearthed that the DCA airport here had shut down to plow the runway.  (I could rant at the uselessness of airports and airlines having twitter feeds that don't announce such things, but instead wait until someone asks.  I get that they don't want someone to create a parody account, but if your account won't even mention that your airport is not accepting airplanes, I don't even know why you have it.) 
So, I called and was rebooked on a later flight that had a connection, which seemed doubly risky since it was the last eastbound flight of the day, but at least if I got stranded in Chicago, I knew there were lots of alternatives.  (Although, whether those choices were going to be cheaper than springing for an extra hotel night was an open question.) And I decided with the extra time to hang out a bit before making my leisurely way to the airport.
I got the same driver on my way to light rail that I had to the wedding, which tickled my driver a bit.  I learned about his art and his Pomeranian.  I hopped on the light rail back out to the airport and made my way in, where I sat down outside security to finish my bottle of iced tea.  And, well, while I was sitting there, my second flight got cancelled.  So, I may my way over to the desk, explained my predicament, and got the, "Oh, my, this is not good," response from the airline rep who told me what I already knew, that they had no more flights to DCA that day.  After consultation with another rep, he came back and offered me a flight to BWI, which I happily took, with fingers crossed that BWI's larger number of runways and slightly more northern position would mean this flight would stick.  The rep helpfully told me it was only a thirty minute drive, which a, shows he has not done in drive in traffic or weather, and b, was cute, since it didn't address how I was going to drive from BWI to DCA or home.  (I do know how to get home from BWI, I was just amused.) 
So, in an abundance of optimism I checked my bag, and made my way through security to hand out by the gate.  And the flight got delayed ever so slightly, but they began boarding (after making an announcement that Baltimore was currently experiencing weather, so that they were going to do their best to get us to the intended destination, but weather conditions may cause issues).  I got on the flight, which was packed (Philadelphia had also cancelled flights, so I know there were folks who had been hoping Baltimore would get them to the right time zone at least) and so I was grateful just to be looking for space for me.  And, it was a little bumpy, but we got there, and my bag got there and I was able to get a shuttle home. 
But, the answer to why more conferences don't occur in winter, might be buried somewhere in there.