austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Oh, there's no place like home for the holidays

So, our 11:19 flight got cancelled, somewhere around 3 am as we were notified by text message; thus, we knew before we showered that there wasn't any particular flight to get to. We went to the airport anyway since the hotel check-out time was 11:00 and there wasn't anything useful to be done at a budget hotel and without a car in an unfamiliar city. We called up the US Airways rebooking service and learned they had rebooked us for the 7:30 pm flight, the one that was cancelled at the last moment the night before. Happily, they agreed that was a bit of a wait and looked for seats on an earlier plane.

They had one leaving about 4:15, at least, and I phoned my parents to say that was the worst we'd be on. They also could put us on standby for a 2:45 flight and who knew what might happen there? That sounded worth the shot even though we didn't expect much. We nested down by the gate where our standby flight was and waited, and figured at least we could eat once the plane left without us. And then after everybody had boarded and we were figuring whether to go to Burger King or to some other restaurant there, they called bunny_hugger, and then me. We gathered everything we could, quick as we could, and I phoned my parents to let them know of our new arrival time.

We were tucked in the back, just ahead of the bathrooms, again, with no promotion to the exit row. After the storms the previous day --- apparently including a row of tornadoes across Georgia and Alabama --- there weren't any empty seats, far as I could tell, and probably wouldn't be for days. But we got into the air, for the very short flight, too short for drinks to be served. (My mother had suggested she could just drive to Charlotte and pick us up, but that seemed too far and too likely to result in our luggage being detonated by TSA agents.) And we arrived on the ground almost exactly on time, then waited as the airplane puttered around the tarmac waiting for a better airport to turn up or something, I don't know.

Charleston's airport is being renovated, alas, but it also unironically delighted me because it just looks like a municipal complex building circa 1982, with dark-brown square brick floors and walls. It's not attractive, exactly, but it is of its time and I respect something that's so distinctive, especially in the modern era of aluminum sheets and tinted glass. We puttered around and around trying to find first baggage claim --- where, against expectations, they had our suitcase --- and then my father, who insisted by text message he was sitting in baggage claim waiting for us. And he was, although he was looking along an entry path that we didn't take, and that I'm not sure you could take. But we did find him, and I saw him in person since that time last year when I last saw their old house, with him sitting in its lone remaining chair --- the longest, I'm pretty sure, that I'd ever gone without seeing him --- and we got out to the car as my mother drove it in from the cell phone parking lot, just ahead of some rain.

Originally we had planned to fly back home on Wednesday, leaving us with a short trip but one enough to see my parents' new home, and some margin before the start of bunny_hugger's new semester. When I called the airline to find what happened to our flight they suggested rebooking the return leg to Thursday, and although I wasn't sure whether fiddling with anything about this was wise (nb), I agreed. We would go back on Thursday, so as not to lose any net time with my parents, and just at the cost of some class prep time.

And what of our original flight, the one that went to Philadelphia Horrible, and its connecting flight to Charleston? I'd like to report whether it arrived or whether we had traded a night at a Philadelphia Horrible airport hotel for a Charlotte airport hotel, but, we failed to check what did happen to it. It would be interesting to know what might have happened. The storms apparently hitting the southeast suggest we probably couldn't have got to Charleston either way, though.

Trivia: Chicago's municipal airport handled 1.3 million passengers in 1946, about twenty times what it had in 1941. Source: Naked Airport: A Cultural History of the World's Most Revolutionary Structure, Alastair Gordon.

Currently Reading: On The Map: A Mind-Expanding Exploration of the Way The World Looks, Simon Garfield.

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