When Bad Things Happen To Good Trips

 

“The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Well isn’t that the truth? Not quite the simplicity of Mr. Gump’s box of chocolates, but a fair description of life, and in this case, non-revenue travel. Not complaining, mind you. It was worth sticking with the “proceedings” just to see how long, and how badly, they were going to play out. It didn’t hurt a bit, but it was certainly fascinating to see how far events got wrapped around the axle. Rather like watching a slow motion train wreck, from the inside.

When we made it home, we tallied up all the the bad things, that had not happened to us as nonrev travelers on this trip. The list was remarkably short.

And so began the worst trip of our lives….

I’m happy to report that we were able to get First Class twice in the last two days, and a First Class offer, on a third flight, that we declined. Since we are always traveling “space available”, it made a nonrev disaster, to DFW and back, quite tolerable. We would have gone further, and completed our trip, but with the DFW hub being “nuked” from a passing thunderstorm, and a mechanical turnback after leaving the gate, and an additional flight cancellation, we just wrote off the experience to our own bad Karma.

The day started at 5:30 AM, when we were supposed to be boarding our flight to DFW. The first indications of what was to be a “challenging” trip, was the discovery that there had been a bird strike the previous evening, that resulted in a 40 minute maintenance delay while an inspection was performed. The log books were signed off appropriately, and we were on our way, ensconced in our FC seats. The trip didn’t last very long. Twenty minutes actually. Nearly reaching the end of the runway the cockpit had a couple of problems. The first was a configuration warning. That meant, that a black box was indicating that the flap/slat configuration was not matching what was selected. That’s a no go item.

The second problem was that when the second engine was started, it began to vibrate. It vibrated a whole lot. And that was another bad thing. Back to the gate we went, and that airplane was toast for the day. It may still be pushed off into the dirt, waiting for a semi from Dallas with another engine.

Of course, all the folks on the first flight, filled the second flight. That one left without us. The afternoon flight was fine, and they stuck us up in First again. We got a couple of drinks while we waited through a 1 hour & twenty-minute ground stop. There was a nasty line of thunderstorms moving through DFW. Finally ATC released our flight. While approaching DFW, we got another hour and fifteen minutes in holding, and while all that was going on I decided to check the connecting gate for our next flight on the aircraft WIFI system. In keeping with the theme that had been prevalent through the whole day, I discovered that the flight on to West Palm Beach was cancelled. Figures.

We couldn’t get on to PBI that evening, as it was the last flight of the day. The folks that were already in DFW, had snapped up the seats into Fort Lauderdale, so “close” was not an option either.

We finally ran out of flights, and time, in DFW. Even connecting on a redeye was not an option. It is surprising that there are so few out of AA’s main hub, but that was the case. Unfortunately, there were no hotel rooms either, by the time we gave up.

Free Beds…..sort of

One thing we really liked, is that the good folks at AA gave us a couple of cots, since we were “concourse rabble” Thursday night. EXTRA EXTRA POINTS FOR AA!!!!!! A simple cot might seem like a petty thing, but it is a significant luxury when we were facing the terminal floor for our sleep. I now officially hate CNN, as they never turned the volume down (even though there were no flights departing our area of the concourse after midnight). It didn’t help that CNN only ran three stories for six hours. Lucky I’m a heavy sleeper, but the “gentle bride” really let me know in the morning. We had a three-day meeting set up at The Breakers, in West Palm. The Breakers, vs. two cots in the terminal at DFW. Quite a dichotomy (Sorry. I couldn’t help it. Stop me before I kill again!), but a pretty funny dichotomy, even when we were sitting in the middle of the wreckage. We really must get those small tents for our nonrev kits!

 

 

Autopsy Report

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This trip was undoubtedly the worst of our lives. Now before anyone assumes that it was simply because of our nonrev status, I have to add that even if we had purchased tickets, it would have made no difference in the outcome. Between the weather, the mechanical(s), and the cancellations, revenue passengers had it no better than us. When there are 50+ revenue passengers standing by for flights that initially had 15 empty seats, it was an unfavorable experience for all, no matter their status. It was simply a bad couple of days trying to go through DFW, and it didn’t help that ORD is hamstrung right now with the ATC problem. Sometimes, this traveling business just doesn’t work. Best to go forth with a good attitude, no matter the circumstances. We’re still just happy to be in the mix, and are looking forward to our next flight. Hopefully, it won’t be the big adventure that this one was, but adventures are not so bad either.

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