This weekend was supposed to be an awesome time with family, but Mother Nature had to come along and change that.
I made it from AUS to ORD almost incident-free. There was about a twenty-minute delay at takeoff due to the weather surrounding the Chicago area. The pilot claimed that the weather was subsiding – not the case at all.
We landed in what can only be described as the eye of the storm and as I stepped off the plane, I noted how crazy/busy Chicago’s O’Hare Airport seemed. I had about ninety minutes before my next flight from ORD to ROA, so I leisurely made my way from gate to gate, stopping for an airport-priced Cobb Salad on the way.
As I approached the hallway housing my destination gate, I felt a gust of hot air and smelled the indoor campground that were the F and G gates. With about an hour to spare, I took a seat among a few other travelers waiting on their flight at my departure gate.
The monitor displaying flight information clued me into the first delay – my flight that was originally scheduled to leave at 6:45, had been pushed back to 8:15. I wasn’t very upset, I could see the horrible weather outside and remained calm, knowing that I would still not miss my older sister’s wedding and the first chance I’ve had to meet my niece.
Fifteen minutes passed as the female voice coming through the loudspeakers canceling flights seemed to have less and less time between each cancellation. I threw away my salad’s trash and wheeled my bag over to the half-mile-long customer service line. As I began to dial the customer service line, I heard my flight get canceled.
After being on hold for thirty-five minutes, I spoke to a young woman at United who gave me two options, that would turn out to both be worthless. Option one put me into Richmond around 1 a.m. (three hours from my destination). Option two got me to Roanoke around 8:30 p.m. (six hours after the wedding). I took option one and made my way to a small beverage stand near the windows where I watched planes sit on a runway getting pounded by tons of water, awesome lightning and some of Chicago’s best wind.
I called my dad and sister and per their dose of reality, we decided that it was probably a little absurd to think that I could drive three hours at 1 a.m. to get to Roanoke. Plus, the flight there wasn’t even guaranteed at this point. After two beers with three travelers who had been stuck in O’Hare since around ten a.m., I heard the bad news – my flight to Richmond was canceled.
I called United back and this time waited forty-six minutes on hold. After speaking to the representative, I found that my only logical option was to now turn around and go back to Austin. The earliest flight I could get back to TX was Sunday morning at 8:40…I’ll take it. As soon as I got my confirmation number, I phoned a friend that lives in Chicago. She came and picked me up and I began my first accidental vacation in Chicago.
In addition to meeting some interesting people, having some decent food and doing a little shopping, I saw Soldier Field, Buckingham Fountain, Lake Michigan, the Field Museum and the Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Pictures of the new t-shirts I got this weekend…
With the exception of missing my sister’s wedding, not getting to see family and missing the first opportunity to meet my niece, I made due and it turned out to be a decent weekend.