Thursday, September 13, 2007

On our way to Mississippi aka the flight from hell

We left on the 1st around 2pm to the airport. We said our goodbyes to my Mom and Dad and headed into the airport. We checked in and passed through security. Our flight left around 4pm. We arrived in Atlanta without any problems for our two hour layover. Now, Atlanta has a huge airport, so a two hour layover is helpful - especially when you want to grab something to munch on.

We walked to our terminal so we were sure to be where we needed to be on time. Once we found our terminal we sat and waited. I got on the phone with the bank as I was waiting to find out when a deposit was going to clear since we weren't going to be able to check things online for our entire trip. When I came back from being on the phone the gate screen stated that our flight had been delayed an hour. Great. Then another hour, and another. We (I and the rest of the waiting passengers) were furious. There was a crew of us at the desk with the lone ticket chick who didn't have a clue as to what was going on as the previous shift just left her hanging when she arrived for her shift.

We finally boarded a plane around 11:45 pm. Yup - we were suppose to leave at 9:30. The plane was hot... the air wasn't working on the ground. And it stank (worse that stinks) like smelly shoes from a boy teenager. Ick. We all settled in and we were on our way after sitting on the tarmac for a good 15-20 minuets... in the heat. It had to be 90 degrees in there. Oh to crack open a window!

We finally got in the air. It was a tiny plane - 2 seats on each side of the aircraft. There was only one flight attendant and she started handing out bottles of water and peanuts. I thought this was suppose to be a quick flight... why does it seem like we've been up here forever? Ohhh we are circling... we've got to be on the 6th loop around Gulfport, MS. Great.

The pilot came on over the speaker system. He told us that we wouldn't be able to land in Gulfport as their weather system wasn't functioning correctly. What??? We could see the runway. The lights were on. There was no weather. It was clear. Land this plane. Nope. Instead we need to make a pit stop to refuel the plane.

Where you ask... Montgomery, Alabama. Yep, Alabama. Not New Orleans, not Jackson, not even Mobile, Alabama - MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA! We all had to get off the plane via the step ladder to the ground - we couldn't even belly up to a corridor. Not that there were any planes in Montgomery. Heck, they were practically closed. They refueled the plane and we tracked back out to the plane to load up. There was a lady there who had two little infant/toddlers. She had them in a double stroller. Now tell me, don't you think the flight attendant, pilot, worker of the airport could have helped this lady get back on the plane? Instead, I helped by carrying her daughter aboard the aircraft. I mean really!

We were on our way again. We think we are heading to Gulfport when the pilot comes on the speaker system again. "Ladies and Gentlemen: I'm sorry to inform you, but we are will not be able to land tonight in Gulfport. Instead we will be heading back to Atlanta." WHAT???? You've got to be kidding me. The flight was in an uproar. Jeeze.

We land in Atlanta. They open the door and people are mad. Someone from the Atlanta airport comes on the plane and grabs the flight attendants microphone. He tells us that our flight has been cancelled. We will be on the first flight in the morning to Gulfport and will be accommodated in one of the local hotels for the rest of the night, a $7 meal ticket for in the airport for our breakfast in the morning and lucky us we also receive a $100 coupon for our next flight on the wonderful Delta Airlines. Ummmm not good enough.

We get off the plane. The man who was on the microphone also told us if we wanted our bags that we could give him our bag number and that it would be in baggage claim in a half hour. Great, yes, I want my bag since I haven't seen it since 2pm the previous day and it's now 3am. I told the man that I did not have the first flight of the morning... as we were on standby for it. Instead, we have the 1pm flight. I told him that I wanted money for both our breakfast and our lunch. He had no problem with that and handed me two more meal tickets. I also told him that our ride from Gulfport had to get a hotel for the night since we were not able to land. He told me he could not assist me with that - and didn't point me in the direction of anyone that could.

I went to the gate desk and spoke with the agents there. I asked if it were possible to fly into New Orleans instead of Gulfport - mind you we needed to be at a family reunion around 1pm. YES Ma'am, we have a flight leaving out at 9am. The first good news I heard so far. Jerome came up and said see if you can get 1st class. I asked the person who was helping me to bump us up to first class for the inconvenience. YES Ma'am. Okay... we are on a roll... should I push it... Can you switch our departure flights to be out of New Orleans instead of Gulfport. YES Ma'am. Woooo hooo. Can you make those first class as well. No Ma'am. Shoot... too far... well I suppose we should be on our way to pick up our bag in baggage claim.

Oh wait... this is the Atlanta airport.... baggage claim is not just right downstairs. It's on the other side of the airport a mile away! Not a problem, we'll hop on the tram... they're being worked on so here we go getting our exercise in.... ughhhh. Where are those people in the golf carts? No where in site. We get to walking. Jeeeeze!

We get to baggage claim after a 45 minuet walk or something like that. It's four in the morning. I haven't slept or ate and I'm sweating. There is NO BAGS. WTF? I talk to one lady who just happened to walk out a door near baggage claim... she walked right back into the office and closed the door in my face.

I STOMPED my way to the Delta ticket desk. There were three ladies working the counter. One got on the phone with the belly of the plane to find my specific bag. One was checking our flights to make sure everything was transferred correctly - including our bag to New Orleans and our departure flights. And the other was helping us switch our hotel coupon. We decided that going to the hotel was not going to be ideal since it was already now about 4:14 am and our flight leaves at 9 am - don't forget we are leaving the security check point so we'll need to be in the airport two hours before our flight making it 7 am... only THREE HOURS AWAY.

The lady checking for our bag found ours and said it would be at the carousel in 5 minuets. Jerome started walking down that way. I wrapped up the hotel ticketing switch to give us each $50 on our next Delta flight - now a total of $300 to spend on it. The other lady confirmed that our tickets were good and clear to go. I asked them the best place for us to have breakfast in the airport with our whole $14 each. They pointed out one near by. I thanked them for assisting me and went on my way to get my bag.

There is was... just sitting there. I grabbed the bag, let a few of the other passengers from our plane know what we had done with our plane tickets - changing the location, bumping them to first class; letting them know about the hotel tickets converting to plane ticket money; and also the extra $7 for food each. A few went to talk to the reps at the Delta ticket desk. Some were still waiting on bags. Don't they realize that the time is ticking and if you want something you need to go and ask?

We headed to a few rows of seats and I opened up all the bags. Getting out what I needed and Jerome needed to clean up after this ordeal. I went to the bathroom and ran some cold water over my face and arms. I changed clothes and went back to where Jerome was seated. He went into his bathroom to do the same as I watched all the bags.

I got to talking with the lady sitting behind me in the rows of seats. She had been on the same flight. I told her what we did and she said she wish she had thought of all that... (ummm there is still time!). On our flight were also a few military guys who needed to be on base at Camp Shelby to ship out to Iraq after their last day of training on Sunday morning. Needless to say, the called their upper officers and were cleared. One of them walked passed us and the lady asked where he was off to. He stated he was going to go sit in his terminal and wait for the morning plane to come in. He also said that the tickets that Delta gave us for the hotels were not being accepted by the hotels because Delta had misspelled the hotel name on the ticket. OH MY GOODNESS!

Jerome came out and he laughed about the hotel ticket. We packed up and headed back to the ticketing desk to check our bag in for our New Orleans flight in a few hours. We sat and waited for the restaurant to open up where we spent our half of our free money at. We had grits, eggs, and a biscuit and a drink.

Then we went thru security and headed to our terminal. When we got there we found a space for us to doze off at with our bags between us and our feet up. At one point I woke up. I noticed that more people were around us, a flight must have just came in. I nudged Jerome to ask him if who I saw was really who I saw. He confirmed... It was Screech from Saved by the Bell! Too funny. We decided to "wake up" and I went to spend our last free dollars at the coffee shop down the way on coffee and muffins. We waited for our plane to arrive.

We finally we to the point where we were boarding the plane. We were in first class. Jerome was sipping on some drinky drinks for free while I chose coffee - it was just too early to enjoy a drink in my book. It was good flight, and an even better one once we landed and knew we were going to be picked up. We picked up our checked bag and were on our way.

Whew! I hope we never have a flight like that again.

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