Beware… this appears to be the longest post I have ever written! But if you like the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles… read on! 🙂
I mentioned in my E3 post that I had travel woes when returning from E3 in Los Angeles. Around the same time that I found out that I was going to E3 I was invited to Madison, WI for an awesome event called “The Future of the Digital Workplace”. The event was held by TDS. You may not know TDS by name. If you do, I am very impressed by your tech geekiness!! TDS stands for Telephone & Data Systems. They are the parent company of many companies that you have heard of such as US Cellular. More on the TDS Event in the next post.
The problem was that the event overlapped E3. After looking at my schedule I figured out that I could do both. I came up with a simple, but brilliant plan. 🙂 Madison, WI is only approximately 90 miles from the Milwaukee airport. I live less than 2.5 hours from the Milwaukee airport. So, I decided that I would fly back and forth to LA out of Milwaukee and just drive to the TDS event. Brilliant, right? Yes… I thought so. 🙂
So early on Monday, June 4 I drove up to Milwaukee, WI and parked at an offsite lot. My travel to LA with a connecting flight through Denver was smooth. But coming back?? Not so much. My return flight also had a connecting flight in Denver. This would prove to be a real issue.
My flight took off from LA at 3:25 pm. We were set to land in Denver at 6:25 pm (1-hour time difference). When flying these days, I sometimes like to watch the flight tracker offered on the Southwest.com website via my iPad. So, I knew when we were getting close. I looked at the time at the top of the flight tracker and I think it said we were about 25 minutes from Denver. About 10 minutes or so later I was thinking “Hmm… shouldn’t they be telling us to turn off electronic devices by now?” Around the same time, I noticed that the plane was turning. I pulled up the flight tracker again and it said 48 minutes to go to Denver. I was thinking “Umm… that is the wrong direction.” I scrolled down to view the real-time map of the flight in progress and saw that we had been going in a circle. I got up and looked both ways up and down the aisles and did not see a flight attendant. I did not freak out (externally). I sat down again. As soon as I did the pilot came on and said, “You may have noticed that we have been flying in circles…” He then explained that there was bad weather in Denver and we had been asked to stall until it cleared. I looked at my watch and knew that I would likely miss my connecting flight. Not good. We flew around for about another 20 minutes and got the announcement that we still could not approach Denver and a plane needs gas sooo… we are going to Albuquerque, NM!! OMG.. that is sooo the wrong way!!!
We arrived in Albuquerque around 8:45 pm and they gassed up the plane. We were still on hold and the bathroom line was getting long so they let people off the plane to potty. I estimated that we were there around 1.5 hours. I am not sure. We were then told to go ahead and try Denver again. But there was a problem. One passenger was missing from the plane! A flight attendant made one announcement for him and then 5 minutes later announced “If anyone knows the missing guy please come to the front. You are not in trouble. We just need to know who he is because we are going to leave him!” LOL!!! A woman who was assumed to be his mother got up and went to the front. A couple of moments later he got back on the plane carrying food and we all broke out in applause.
So… we were off towards Denver once again. And… once again as we got about 30 minutes from Denver the plane started turning. And then the announcement, “Bad news folks… the weather in Denver picked up again so we cannot approach. This time we are going to Salt Lake City.” UGH!!!!! You must be kidding?? We arrived in Salt Lake City around 11:00 pm. And there we sat, and sat, and sat. Once again they let us get off the plane for bathroom breaks, etc. But by this time everything in the airport was closed. There was nowhere to get food. The flight attendant blessed us with more peanuts and pretzels. We then pulled out to the runway and sat there a while longer.
We started making calls and weighing options. Since it was so late there really were no options. We needed to make it to Denver where they were already working on rebooking us on morning flights. At some point during the process, I called my TDS rep to let her know that I was not sure if or when I would make it to the next day’s events. She assured me that whatever time I got there they would be happy to have me, so I was determined to make it.
We were finally given the ok to approach Denver again. I lost track of how long we had been in Salt Lake City, but it was a long while. The pilot warned us that the trip into Denver would likely be bumpy. Lovely! I really hate turbulence. I don’t recall it being that bad, however as we approached there was a ton of lightning in the sky not too far away. We touched down in Denver at 2:30 am!!! There was major applause.
That was a looong trip from LA to Denver. What was that? 10 hours from start to finish. And sadly, I was still not where I needed to be. I was booked on a 7:30 am flight the next morning into Milwaukee. I found a comfy chair and tried to nap. That did not last long. We were not the only flight diverted so there were quite a few people all over. I had settled behind a father and his 2 kids. I moved after about 25 minutes when I realized that the smell I detected was the baby. He got up to change the diaper on the floor near me and I took that as my cue to leave. LOL! I found a new spot, and I swear I barely slept. I would doze and then wake up with the whole “where am I?” feeling. Or I would be worried that my stuff was not secure.
When 5:00 am or so hit I was finally able to grab something to eat. My plane took off as planned at 7:30 and was an uneventful flight thank goodness. I did as planned and picked up my car and drove from Milwaukee to Madison. It was a long drive but I made it. After checking into my hotel, showering and changing I finally made it to the event at 3:30 pm. After the evening’s festivities, I finally got to sleep! I slept and slept and slept. I swear I felt like I had filmed a new season of 24. I drove the approximately 3.5 hours home the next morning.
Whew! In the next post, I will tell you about what little I did catch while at the Future of the Workplace event 🙂
I will say that Southwest was amazingly awesome through the whole thing! I really love their flight attendants. They are always pleasant and funny! That’s why I fly Southwest whenever I can. Well… that and I love racking up my Rapid Rewards points. 🙂