Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Stranded in Kansas City

I'd better start with a slight bit of background info. I am originally from Iowa, and my family still lives there. I wanted to visit for Christmas but couldn't afford the crazy prices the airlines wanted, so I got a flight for Dec. 26. The weather at home in Iowa had been crazy with lots of ice storms, and our tiny airport hadn't had a flight in for almost a week. I was worried that the flight would be canceled and was even more worried that it wouldn't be canceled until I got to Kansas City,
MO on my layover.
But, the flights started coming in again on Christmas and were scheduled for Friday. The weather was finally nice there and in the 50s, but we were supposed to get thunderstorms that night.
I woke up at 5:00 AM Friday morning. The airport was crazy, and I was afraid I'd miss my flight. I got to the gate as it was beginning to board, thankfully, and we took off about on time, I think. It was scheduled for an 8:39 AM departure.
I had a stop in Denver where again, I was afraid I'd miss my flight. I rode this golf cart thing to my gate and the guy was driving really slow. I reminded him my flight was due to leave in a half hour, and we did get there in time. It turned out, though, that it didn't really matter because one of the parts of the PA system thing on the plane was broken and needed replaced, so we took off about an hour late. Thank goodness my next layover was long, I thought.
Let's backtrack for a minute. Since Pasta flys between my feet on the airplanes, she is not allowed to have her food and water before the flight, so she had her supper at 7:00 PM Thursday instead of 5:30 PM so that she didn't have to wait so long without food. She can't eat or drink before the flight since she can't relieve on the plane and often we don't have a chance to do it on a layover. Plus, even if we had time, we'd have to get someone to take us out and then have to go back through security again.
So, anyway, the flight was due to arrive at our final destination at 7:55 PM Central Time which is 5:55 PM Pacific Time so about 23 hours after her last meal. Oh, one last thing, Pasta can have some kibble or dog biscuits on the plane to keep her stomach settled, so she did have some food in her tummy on Friday.
Okay, back to Denver. Since I had Pasta, the airline, United, wanted me to have plenty of room for her to stretch out, so they put me in a window seat of a row with only me, and, get this, it was in first class! How cool, and it definitely did have more room So, that was the cool part of my day. It kind of went downhill from there.
In Kansas City, I had someone help me to my connecting gate and through security again at Great Lakes Airlines, which is partnered with United and flies into my tiny airport in Iowa. They were really nice and we just sat at our gate and waited for about two hours. I talked to my dad on my cell and he said the weather was still good and to be thinking about what I wanted for supper. It was about a half hour before we were due to depart, so I let him go. As soon as I did, a lady walked over from the podium and said she had some bad news.
My flight had been canceled due to bad weather. I asked her what bad weather and explained my dad said it was nice there. Also, it was fine in Kansas City. She called and was told there was fog and cross winds. I called dad back and asked him about the fog and as we talked, within like five minutes, he said it was starting to roll in. The nice lady from Great Lakes said they would give me a voucher for a hotel and for food and could get me out the next day at 5:03 PM. I asked if there was anything else she could do, like get me on an earlier flight to another airport near my home and explained that Pasta hadn't eaten in almost 24 hours and that I didn't have any food with me.
She checked, but all the other flights near my destination were canceled for the night and full for the next day. But, here is what astonished me and really renewed my faith in the human race. The lady asked me what kind of food Pasta ate. I told her but explained it could only be bought at pet stores. She asked what may be a good replacement, and I said probably something that had a meat product as the first ingreedient. Another employee, a guy from the gate then said he'd go out and get her dog food while they got everything figured out for me.
So, the lady put me on the flight the next day, got me a $10 voucher for food at the airport and had the lady come back who had brought me to the gate before. She took me to the food court area and read off the restaurants and then the menu in one until I figured out what I wanted. Then, while I was eating, the lady from the gate came with Pasta's dog food. It turned out the guy had went all the way to a Pet Smart and had bought Pasta's food for me. I thought I was going to cry, it was so nice and unexpected.
While I ate, the other lady, the one who had brought me to the food place, got a couple of bowls from the counter and gave Pasta a little water and food for me. After she finished and I had eaten, the lady took us outside so I could relieve Pasta since she hadn't been able to go since about 7:00 AM Pacific, which was at least 12 hours before. Thank goodness my dog has a strong bladder!
So then, the lady took me down and waited with me for the airport shuttle. She took me out to it, and we were off. The place was pretty nice and the people friendly. They gave me directions to my room and I worked Pasta down the hall a bit and then healed her so I could read the braille on the rooms. I found it and went inside. I was so glad to be somewhere where i could relax.
I gave Pasta a little more food since she had only had about a handful at the airport and gave her more water. I cleaned up a bit but didn't actually shower because i didn't have any clean clothes to change into. I thought it'd be more of a hastle to drag my 50 pound suitcase around with me than it would be to sleep in my clothes, so I decided to leave it at the airport for ease of transport. I took Pasta potty later, and when we came back down the hall, she remembered where the room was after only being there once! Impressive.
It started to rain outside, and when I talked to my boyfriend on my cell, he told me he had seen online that we were under a tornado watch. What? In December? Well, it had been about 70 that day there. But, it had been cold and had been sleet the day before. Strange weather. Then, it came across the TV we had a severe thunderstorm warning. Now, I just had to laugh because this was the most absurd day I had ever had.
Thankfully, where I was, the weather didn't get bad. We just had rain and a little thunder, but the next morning, it was really cold again. I think some of the rain changed to freezing rain but luckily stopped. I was just hoping the weather would hold out so I could get home to Iowa.
I had to leave the hotel at 11:30 because check-out was at 11:00. So, back on the shuttle to the airport where I waited and waited. Morning flights had been canceled with Great Lakes so I just hoped mine wouldn't be. It was delayed until 5:20. Then, as this time neared, it was pushed back again because the plane we were going out on hadn't arrived yet. I finally was on the plane at 6:45 PM and was relieved. But, halfway down the runway, the plane stopped. It had started to snow a little before we boarded and they needed to deice the plane. So, that probably took a half hour. Then, finally, we took off.
The flight was rough. I don't usually mind turbulance, but even I was nervous. It was going side to side and up and down. I had to brace myself several times so I didn't hit my head on the window or my chin on the seat in front of me. Several times, we were in a free-fall for a few seconds.
Poor Pasta, she doesn't have a problem with big planes, but these little planes she doesn't like. They're loud and more bumpy. Plus, the vents are on the floor so the air, cold or hot, blows directly on her. This time, it was verry hot, and the poor thing was panting the whole time. And, with the turbulance, the poor girl was scared, too. We were both very happy when we finally landed at about 8:15.
And, in Iowa, there was freezing rain, and the roads were awful. So, I got in at just the right time. Had it been much later, we probably wouldn't have made it, either because of the ice in Iowa or the snow in Kansas City.
But, I have learned a very important lesson from this trip. Even if I have dog food for Pasta where I am going, always take some with me in my carry-on. Thank God for those nice Great Lakes Airlines employees. I used to fly American because it was the only airline that flew into the Iowa airport but now it's Great Lakes. Good thing because I had too many problems with cancelations and such with American and never got anything or any kindness in return. But, I have seen that there are definitely still nice people around. That guy did not have to get Pasta dog food at all, and he sure didn't have to go to Pet Smart when Wal-Mart was closer. All those people who helped me made a terrible situation much less stressful. Let's just hope I don't have any problems when I go back to California on the 11th.

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