The Unintended Overnight Counter

This is a post I never thought I’d be penning, errr, thumb typing on a cell phone. I have had fairly great luck with flying in the past couple of decades with, as far as I can recall, only two incidents when a flight was canceled and I had to spend an overnight where I was.

Stranded, if you will. If you count being stranded as being put up in a hotel and on a flight the next day (or in one case where we canceled our flight and instead took the train from Pennsylvania to Seattle over New Years).

But now, in the past three calendar months, I have experienced this form of stranding three times. Three! The (mock) horror. If I look closely at a calendar, and squint, it looks like two actual months. And with this, while I am sitting in a rocking chair at the B gates at Sea-Tac Airport waiting for a delayed Horizon flight, I thought I’d start a counter post, ala my friend Jodi’s Birdcrap Counter, but with less bird poo. I have at least 36 more flights to go this year and pray that I don’t have to add to the list.

1) Los Angeles – January, 2012

An icy hell in Seattle? I don't think a couple of extra days in LA is that bad.

The first delay of the year was the longest so far: two nights. I was visiting a wonderful woman who I had just started dating and, after a wonderful visit, was dropped off at the not-as-wonderful LAX airport. Sunny skies. A song in my heart. What could ruin this day?

ICE STORM ARMAGEDDON 2012 could.

It seems Seattle got some snow. This is not amazing, it happens and when they see it coming the airport does a good job of keeping operations running. At least until the snow turns to falling ice and dropping temperatures. We’re certainly not Chicago and don’t do as well with this extreme of weather with all our hills. So while the airport was managing, finding crews to fly was difficult as our freeways become instant parking lots if anything other than rain is falling.

I spent two extra nights in LA although without the company of my girlfriend. But in the nice, warm sun…before leaving on a day that saw the power fail where I had been staying, because of unexpectedly heavy rains for LA.

2) Puerto Vallarta – February, 2012

Ah Mexico. Sunshine. Beaches. More sunshine. Staying inside and writing so as to not get sunburned. Mexico.

I was in PV at the behest of Velas Vallarta to take a look at things like beaches and sunshine and, by proxy, their resorts. All went well until it was time to leave, as you may have guessed.

While standing around the waiting area I was happy to see our plane pull up to the gate. You see, no one leaves their planes in PV so you only get to leave if the inbound flight makes it down there. Good times so far. Then I look out the window to see this:

That’s never a good sign as they don’t make a habit of changing the engine oil at every stop. Waiting ensues.

They apologize. They feed us dinner. They apologize. They move us to a new gate, without our airplane. I watch a movie. They apologize and hand out a card to receive 2000 bonus miles for our troubles. Then they apologize as we get sent to the ticketing counter to collect our hotel, taxi and breakfast vouchers.

Traveling with only carry-on luggage, I was able to make it to near the front of the line and to the PV Marriott in fairly short order, grab some mediocre sushi and then send emails pretty much complaining about how crappy the wifi was in such a nice hotel. I guess you go there for the beach and sun, not so much to work.

The next day I made my way to the airport to see my plane pull up to the gate amongst a cheer from the crowd. Once on board I was told there had been a problem with the pressurization system in one engine and it was now fixed. I might have heard some grumbling but I am always happy when an airline decides to make me late rather than dead.

3) Seattle – March, 2012

What to do when unexpectedly laidover? Work on a presentation on the hotel room wall.

Yes, I got overnighted in my hometown. Why? Why not just go home? Because I was rebooked on a 7am flight an that would mean not only 2+ hours commuting home, but getting up around 3:30am to commute back. As I had flown up from LA, it appeared that I didn’t live here and I took advantage of the offer to stay at a hotel minutes for the airport. It wasn’t as plush as the Marriott. It also wasn’t at the beach. As it was, I had to shuffle my schedule and needed the extra time alone to get work done.

I was put up in the Comfort Inn and, while not fancy, it had a nice, big room and a comfortable chair with work desk to do what I had to do.

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That’s it for now. Half my trips his year have had a delay and I hope the trend doesn’t continue. All these flights were with Alaska Air but I don’t blame them. Things happen, I understand this. It sucks when you need to get some place at a particular time, but in my case I realize I have been extremely lucky with being able to roll with the punches.

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