As I alluded to in my last post, the beginning of our trip was nothing short of a monumental disaster. But, I digress...lets back it up two years and explain why this trip meant so much to us. Just three short days after returning from our honeymoon in 2008, I became severely ill and ended up in the hospital for almost a week. Some may say that I was giving that "in sickness and in health" part of our vows a run for its money. What was supposed to be a quick recovery, turned into a 2 1/2 year journey to try and piece my health back together again. Needless to say, the memories of our honeymoon were quickly overshadowed by the challenges that we now faced.
So when my bestest Colette got engaged, we were over the moon to plan a trip to England to celebrate her & her fiance's wedding. We decided to make a long vacation out of it, and considered it a honeymoon do-over. For two years we'd scrimped and saved, spent time at the coffee shop researching and planning, and dreamed of the day we'd finally be able to take some time off. I also used the trip as motivation to keep moving on my mission to get better. There were so many times I wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but I kept trudging forward knowing that I couldn't miss this wedding. Needless to say, there was a lot of emotion built into this trip.
Fast forward back to present time...
We went above and beyond to make sure everything was in order before our trip, so that the day we left would be as relaxing as possible. We got to the airport fairly early, and were surprised at the lack of traffic we had heading into Philadelphia. There were no lines to check in our bags, and again no lines to go through security. Everything was running extremely smoothly...a little too smoothly for airport travel.
We settled into the chairs in the waiting area, and that's when things started getting weird. We saw a firetruck go flying across a runway, sirens blazing. Then one of the alarms above a door in our section kept going off. It probably went of 14 times before they were able to stop it. Then we looked at the tv and saw the massive thunderstorms that had stopped the Phillies game. The game that was taking place just a few miles away from the airport where we sat. We looked up and saw the black clouds billowing towards us. It was like the universe was telling us that everything was about to get out of control.
And out of control it got. It was about 15 minutes before we were supposed to board our plane, when a fellow passenger came over to our section and said, " I think our flight is cancelled...it says cancelled on the board!" No announcement had been made about a cancellation, so everyone ran over to the U.S. Airways desk. Here's just how awesome U.S. Airways is (insert sarcasm). The people at the desk had NO IDEA the flight had been cancelled. So they told us all to calm down and go back to our seats. No one followed their directions, and we all stood there just waiting for an update. The knots began to form in my stomach, but I tried to convince myself that if the flight was cancelled, surely the airline workers would know it, right?! Oh, how naive I was. About 10 minutes later, one of the desk people grabbed a microphone and made the announcement that our flight, was indeed, cancelled due to mechanical failure.
I broke down in a mess of sobs. I'm not usually a crier (especially not a public crier), but I was just filled with a whole mess of fear (that I'd miss my best friend's wedding), frustration, anger and sorrow. Two years of planning for this? Flight delays I had mentally prepared for...but mechanical failure... I had not. Instead of being helpful, the U.S. Airways people handed all of the passengers a piece of paper with a phone number on it, and told us that they wouldn't be able to assist us in getting flight information. We were to call the number and they would answer all of our questions. (Horrific customer service, I know.).
Ryan got on the phone and tried to get a hold of someone, anyone, who could help us. I could hear the people around me who had gotten through to a representative. "Your next flight to London isn't until tomorrow at 4:45 PM? With a layover in Germany? So, we won't get into London until Saturday afternoon? The connecting flight to Manchester won't get in until the early evening?"
I may or may not have started hyperventalating at this point seeing as how the wedding was a 2 + hour drive from the Manchester airport. If this was the only flight we could get on, we wouldn't arrive at the wedding until 9:00 PM.
All of the sudden, my husband ran off down towards the other part of the airport. I had no idea where he was going, and since I had conveniently forgotten to charge my dead phone, I had no way to text him to see what was going on. So there I sat in the middle of the airport for 20 minutes with tears running down my face, all of the worst case scenerios running through my head.
All of the sudden Ryan came running back, and said, "Come on! A direct flight to Manchester was delayed due to the storms, and we can get on that flight!" We went to try and get a hold of someone to ask about our luggage (which was loaded on the broken plane). There were a bunch of U.S. Airways managers standing in a huddle (not behind the desk where they could help people, off to the side standing away from the people they had just left stranded). We ran up to see if we could get our luggage put on the other flight. That's when they told us that the luggage could not be taken off the broken plane. We were flabbergasted...it's not as if the flight could go anywhere. And it's not as if any of the other flights were leaving or coming in because of the storms. All of the working planes were just sitting, going nowhere. We explained that we really needed to get our luggage, because there wouldn't be time for it to be delivered to the town we were visiting...we had to fly out early Sunday morning to another country. One of the managers called the luggage workers, and explained our situation. But it was a no go. They refused to take anyone's luggage off the flight, and they refused to give anyone a reasonable answer as to why.
Given the choice of missing my friend's wedding and having luggage, or making the flight (and wedding) and having no luggage, the choice was pretty easy. We made our way onto the new plane, luggage-less (and not quite sure if we would ever see our luggage again on our trip) and exhausted, but on our way to England. The sad part was that the plane had a lot of empty seats, and that so many other travelers on our original flight were not given this new flight as an option. It was just another major fail by U.S. Airways...
Because we were so worked up, we didn't sleep at all on the flight. But there we were, on our way, determined to try and keep perspective on our situation.
Here are the blessings that we were able to come up with:
- The thunderstorms caused the Manchester flight to be delayed. If it had not been delayed, it would not have been an option for us.
- Our original flight had a layover in London. We were now on a direct flight.
- When we first got on the new plane, the pilot announced that we may be sitting on the runway for 1-2 hours, as we were 15th in line and the runways still were not open due to the storms. 10 minutes later, he made another announcement...the runways were now open and we were now number 3 in line! Because everyone had been taxiing for so long, a lot of planes had to refuel.
- We were going to make the wedding! Granted, we had no clothes to deal with the 50 degree temperatures (it was 100 degrees in Philly), but we were going to be there!
I promise the next two posts will be happy :) Before luggage saga part 2 happens!