Sunday, October 31, 2010

Welcome to Hell Airlines... Pretzels or pain?

Dad, Mom, Amy & Matt left yesterday for Oregon for Grandpa Chatterton's Funeral. We weighed the options carefully whether we should fly or drive. We finally decided that flying was our better option...boy, were we WRONG!!! A brief recap of our day:
4:00 am--wake up and meet at the Riverton Airport at 5:00 for our 6:02 flight.

This is Riverton Airport. (ALL of it)

Found out the plane was late and was coming from Montana with 17 passengers that weren't supposed to be on the flight. That forced them to bump some passengers to the noon flight. Well, you can guess that we were among the lucky ones. (Which of course, caused us to miss our connection in Denver for Portland. They were able to book us on the 3:13 flight into Portland. Dad had to call the rental car company and let them know of our changes. We were planning on renting a car there and driving 4 hours to Medford and taking Maryanne to dinner.)

None of us were very happy. Obviously. Here is the evidence.

Went home, tried to sleep and met back at the airport at 11:20, only to find out that the noon flight was also going to be delayed.
Ate some food, tried to be positive and waited.

Note: the tiny little 20 passenger plane in the back window.

The flight finally came in at about 12:30. We were a little concerned watching the pilots crawl under the plane on hands and knees and several airport employees gathered around on cell phones looking like they were trying to make an important decision. Dad, being an employee himself, gave Matt a look and said, "I don't like this". Well, they loaded us on and explained that the plane had some electrical problem and that it was nothing to worry about, but they needed to find a little plastic ring to fill the hole and the plane would fly just fine. Well, I think I would have rather not have heard that little explanation. They finally found the little ring under one of the seats! Are you kidding me? It seemed to take forever for them to get clearance to take off, while we kept an eye on the clock ticking away and our connecting flight time getting closer.

Finally in the air

We landed in Denver and the pilots (there were no flight attendants present and no beverage service, if you can believe it) found out that we had 25 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off. They said they would call our gate and tell them we were running. And run we did. We had to walk across the tarmack to a gate in Terminal A. It was the END of the line. We had to run through the entire terminal, take a train to Terminal B, and get all the way to gate 83. Do you have any idea how far that is? And poor Dad had a hard time moving that quickly. In fact, the clerk asked Dad if he wanted her to call an ambulance. She was serious. We made it to the gate at 3:11 and the door was already closed. The plane was still there, but the lady at the counter said that we were too late. We breathlessly told her our sob story about our day so far and that we were going to a funeral. She tried to get us on, but they said no.

Meanwhile, a couple ran up right after we did and this guy was so irate! He was a little scary. He got on the phone and was chewing someone out like crazy for a long time. On a side note, this morning we had our TV on in our room and CNN reported that there was an "incident" at the Denver Airport yesterday about an irate passenger using threatening language to airport employees. We KNOW it had to be that guy!

We tried to be nice to the poor girl and she, in turn, was pretty nice to us. She was trying to rebook us into Portland for that evening. Amy mentioned that we had to drive 4 hours into Medford. Amy and the clerk at the same time had the same idea. Amy asked if we could get a direct flight into Medford and she said yes. No additional charge. We were pretty happy! The flight was scheduled for 6:45 so we had some time to relax and eat.

Stereotypical airport people. This wasn't staged either.

Dad also had to call the rental car place again and tell them that we weren't flying into Portland anymore and we needed to rent a car from Medford and return it in Portland on Tuesday. That added a fee, so Dad decided to get a cheaper car. We found out that he was going to surprise us with an Escalade. Cute of Dad, but we were fine with the downgrade. As we sat waiting for our flight, it dawned on us that after almost 15 hours, we had only traveled for one hour going in the wrong direction. Southeast from Riverton, instead of Northwest. We could have been there by car quicker.

Another problem was our luggage. The airlines thought it made the flight to Portland, so they had to notify the airlines to send the bag from Portland to Medford on a flight that was coming in just 15 minutes after we were scheduled to land. We didn't have a lot of faith that that would actually happen. We had a pretty uneventful flight to Medford. We were the last 4 seats booked, so none of us could sit together. Amy sat by a very sweet lady and enjoyed visiting with her Matt sat by a guy his age moving from New York to Medford and they hit it off and teased the flight attendants. I think Dad slept and Mom sat next to a dud so she read the Jungle Book. We landed and sat there, got the rental car paperwork all done, and waited for the other flight with the luggage. To our great surprise we got a call that our luggage was already there waiting for us. We drove to our motel in a light rain and checked in. We were tired and a little hungry so Dad, Matt and Amy went to a restaurant and ate. I'm going to tell you what Matt ordered only so we can tell you our favorite "Dad quote" from today. He ordered an oriental "Pot Sticker Salad". He told Mom about it today and she thought it sounded so good. So tonight when we were driving past that restaurant, Dad said, "Hey, how about a "Pot Licker Salad"? We laughed so hard, especially Matt and Amy in the back seat, only to find out that Dad didn't say it on purpose to be funny. He really just called it that! Which caused an even bigger outburst of laughter from the backseat. So Dad. Well, that ends our little saga. We will do another post about the funeral tomorrow. Love you guys! (This is Amy typing, by the way. )


Emily said...

Wow, that sounds like the worst thing ever, but I don't mind saying that as a non-participant in that complete debacle- it was pretty entertaining to read (translated: I laughed several times). I had major empathy for you too- I HATE hours wasted on planes and airports, they are hours stamped with a special brand of boredom that drives me bonkers.

Anxious to hear about the funeral.

ps- I think my favorite part was about the missing plastic ring that was found in the plane. The part where I was most incensed for you guys was when the pilot's let the connecting flight know you guys were coming and you made it before the flight took off and they wouldn't let you on. WTB?? EXCEPT that it led to not having to drive to Medford- that is a perk. I like that dad wanted to get an Escalade "to surprise you guys" -yeah, and I am going to get the complete Jane Austin video collection to surprise Rob.

Emily said...

Scout just reviewed the pictures and she pointed out a now new favorite part of this post: Looking at the last picture, Scout goes, "look at grandpa sleeping!". HAHA! I didn't even notice. It's just funny and I love Scout's observations.

Dan W said...

Wow! All my best you guys. Thanks for the awesome pictures and such a great post told so well. May its good humor at the day from hell become the "official story" of the trip to Don's funeral and all the frustrations fade into the background with pot licker salads always coming first to mind.

Love my Wright family!

Haley said...

Pot Licker Salad!!! Haha. Too funny. Even though I knew most of what happened, it was nice to hear some more details. Hopefully the trip is smooth the rest of the way! Haha on Grandpa sleeping, it was totally the first thing I noticed about the picture! Hope the funeral goes well today. Wish we could all be there.

Haley said...

I also love the picture of all three of you on your phones, way funny. And the picture of Grandpa's shoe. That is a sign of true boredom!

B said...

Awesome pictures!!!! Matt was so excited to take his new camera to document the trip, I'm sure those weren't the things he wanted to document though. Em, I loved your comment about the Escalade. That had to be all Dad. Sorry you guys had such a lame adventure getting there!! I was at State swimming the whole time, and would get texts from Matt saying "So... we are still in Riverton, long story." And then I tried to call and he said "We're getting on the plane, can't talk." Then a few minutes later "Ok... Maybe we aren't getting on the plane. Unbelievable. I will talk to you sometime." When I finally got the talk to him, they'd made it all the way to Denver.

Amy, last night Kelly and I made dinner at your house, and we couldn't find the can opener to save our lives, and we were laughing about how everything falls apart when you leave. We need our Mama Bird!! We miss you guys, hope today goes smoothly!!

Sue said...

What a saga! I don't even know how to comment on the plastic ring thing. I don't know if I could have gone on that flight.

I love it when new words are added to our family's lexicon: Pot Lickers.

There was no mention of the hotels, so I take it everything went okay with the rooms?

Pops said...

Just a few comments from the arff guy since I really knew what was going on. After the noon (12:05) flight was 45 minutes late, I knew something was amiss when I watched the actions of the Pilots and the Airline ladies. I have never seen a pilot on a cell phone and both were on cell phones for 20 minutes or more. Then they all were outside by the plane in a circle talking for 10 minutes. What happened was a electrical circut breaker popped. It had nothing to do with the safety of the flight but the pilots had to have permission to take off with it popped. By regulation they needed to inmobleize the switch with a device. A plastic ring or keeper or something that would keep it from being turned on by accident. Thus, the delay while they searched for one of these keepers. By now every minutes was precious to us trying to get to Denver to make a connection. The plane took off from Riverton on runway 28, the exact oppasite direction to denver. It took an extra 5 to 8 minutes to climb and do a 180 degree turn back to a heading to denver. Then at Denver after landing and taxing to the ramp the pilots said the engines were too hot and we would have to wait 3 minutes while they idled to cool down. The run to the United gate was just brutal. Picture a big U with our plane off the end of the tip of the U. Us walking and running up to the end where we took a train to the other concourse and running back down the U to the far tip of the U. It could not have been planned worse for us. And then for them to slam the door on us and the plane still sitting there for 5 minutes while I was coughing and wheezing and nearly having a heart attack while Amy and I were talking to the attendant. "the worst, ever!"

Matt said...

Hey everyone. We will do another post tonight on the service today. It was very nice and everyone who contributed did a fantastic job.

I purposly framed that picture to get Dad sleeping in the background. hehe. We love our Dad sleeping pictures. Esspecially when toothpicks are hanging out of his mouth!

Amy said...

Sue, we were so desperate to get in the air, if they said one of the engines wasn't working we still probably would have got on that plane.