Monday, February 22, 2021

Me and the Denver Airport

The first time I flew into Denver was for a friend's wedding.  The wedding had a snow theme, and so it was pretty cute when it snowed day of.  Especially since I wasn't a bridesmaid and didn't have to stand outside for pictures or anything.  
Anyway, the day following the wedding, we got to the airport, and were calmly dining in the restaurant when another guest texted my friend to ask if our flight had been cancelled too.  Too?  There had been no signs of trouble when we checked in, but as we all pulled out our phones, we discovered that due to an expected snowstorm on the East Coast (that was not scheduled to start until well after our arrival) everything going East had been cancelled. 
We ended up gathering up our luggage(which they just dumped onto the floor) and working on getting rebooked.  Interestingly, given we were all on the same flight, my one friend was rebooked for first flight out the next day, two were placed on the second flight the next day, and I was offered a flight out in three days.  I took it, but also asked what the chances were for me to fly standby the next morning.  
And I ended up being the last person allowed onto that first flight the next morning.  Which meant middle seat, but hey I was headed home.  
Except of course, now it really was snowing in the East Coast.  So, the DC airport (DCA) closed while we were in the air to catch up on snow. So we landed in Harrisburg.  We were let off the plane to use facilities, grab drinks, and charge up the devices.  And then we all loaded back on the plane and flew to DC.  Did I get home about the same time as my friends on the second plane that ended up leaving later? 
Yeah. But I got home.  
The second time, my flight got delayed.  I was there for a conference and discovered I was on the same flight with a fellow attendee and we chatted for several hours until the flight finally left.  
The third time was also for a wedding, this time family.  I had taken the butt crack of dawn flight and my lovely relatives got up before the crack of dawn to drop me off, which was very kind.  
Oh, I should probably mention, if scary plane stories bug you you should probably stop reading now.  Huh.  Spoiler. 

So, the plane was delayed due to a maintenance issue.  So we sat there, all at the gate with no plane for an undetermined amount of time.  The gate agent actually disappeared, perhaps tired of explaining that he did not know when the plane would be there.  It arrived, but they still didn't allow us on.  Then they started boarding.  We got on and the pilot said - after everyone was boarded - that there was just a small delay because they were waiting for a confirmation on something that maintenance had been working on earlier.  Which I confess was a worrying announcement, but delightfully transparent.  We took off.  
And about thirty minutes into the flight, I noticed a lot of call buttons going.  I was seated near the front of the plane.  Apparently, in the back, the noises they were hearing changed significantly, and the passengers felt the flight crew needed to know.  (Some of this I learned later.)  
And the pilot came on again to alert us that the hydraulic system had gone out, which had been the issue that they were working on this morning and it appeared that it had not been sufficiently resolved.  So we were using the backup system but the pilot and co pilot did not wish to complete the trip on backup, so we were returning to the airport.  And then the plane turned around.  
So, we all got food vouchers to use in the airport, which was nice.  And then we waited.  See, since our plane had taken off, it had disappered off the flights board.  So we waited.  The pilot and co pilot came off the plane and let us all know that we would be getting a new plane, which honestly seemed wise, and possibly like what the pilot and copilot had maybe wanted all along.  So that plane left the gate and then eventually a new plane arrived.  
The second time we took off, we flew and landed just fine.  And I got home.  
But it did mean, when I saw a story about an engine catching fire and then saw it was a flight from Denver, well, I felt a tiny sense of - of course.  Even though it wasn't the same airline or even a flight in the same direction. It is perhaps unfair to blame the airport for these problems.  But this level of consistency has only happened to me when I try to leave Denver.