I’ve come to visit my family in the DC area during this weekend before Gen Con, and that started last Thursday with a red-eye flight from Seattle, scheduled to leave at 11:30pm. I figured that either I’d get 5 hours of sleep on the flight, or I’d arrive tired, get through the day, and go to bed early . . . either way, it’d help to fight off jet lag.
Things started going a little wrong upon arrival at Seatac Airport. I don’t mean when I got into the terminal, I mean when my friends’ car pulled up to the airport drive. (Thanks to John and Janice for the lift.) The traffic on that little drop-off-only strip was absolutely INSANE. I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that it took us a full 20 minutes (probably more) to make the 150 yard approach to the drop-off point for my airline. I hope that was just an anomaly . . . that the stars were against Seattle travelers that night, because if that’s not the case then it’s suddenly become necessary to factor in an additional 30 minutes to ANY Seattle airport departure plans.
Thankfully, I’m a get-to-the-airport-early kinda guy, so even with the driving delay, I got to the check-in with plenty of time to spare.
The lady working the counter was cheerful and helpful, she got me moved into a MUCH better seat (when it looked online like none were available), and just when I thought it was all going to be smooth skies from there on, she offhandedly said, “You know that your flight is delayed, right?” In point of fact, I didn’t . . . despite having been online, because the airlines NEVER post that a flight is going to be late until the very last moment they have to. Rather than 11:30, it seemed that my flight was not going to get off the ground until 2am—provided the plane wasn’t further delayed.
The lady working the counter continued to be friendly and helpful, but now she was apologetic, too (though clearly SHE had done nothing wrong). She gave me a $10 coupon that I could use at ANY restaurant or kiosk in the terminal, so I could get a drink or bite while I waited. That was nice. So I headed off to go through the TSA screening.
As I went, though, it was made clear to me that only one of the screening areas was open. That didn’t seem so bad, at 10:45pm . . . how crowded could it be?
VERY crowded, in fact. EVERY overnight flight from EVERY airline was, of course, processing about that time . . . and ALL of those travelers had to go through one line which, admittedly, opened up to 4 screening lines . . . but it was nowhere near enough to handle the rush of people. The line moved slowly but steadily, but it still took nearly a full HOUR to get through the line. The good news, though, was that I lucked out and wound up in a line that had just a metal detector rather than the x-ray box (I dislike those for several reasons, but that’s not what I’m rambling about just now).
By the time I got into the terminal proper, it was around the time my flight SHOULD have been leaving (on its original schedule), and I NEEDED a drink. Thankfully, I had a $10 coupon. Unfortunately, at nearly midnight on a Thursday, nearly every restaurant and kiosk in the airport was either already closed or in the process of closing.
In the end, my coupon got me some water and peanuts at the Hudson News near my gate.
Thankfully, except for the time spent waiting for the plane to arrive, no other challenges arose. We got out shortly after 2am, arrived equally behind schedule, but everything went pretty smoothly.
And in the end, my exacerbated exhaustion DID help me get to bed at a normal, east coast time . . . so I may yet have a leg up on the whole Gen Con thing.