I’ve just returned from what has become my annual international trip, this time to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A modern airliner sure beats the historical alternatives, like a clipper ship. But even in this age, Murphy’s Law (“If it can go wrong, it will”) still reigns. My travel difficulties this time were so frustrating, they seemed to be of Biblical proportions, kinda like the Israelites, except I was the victim. Here’s how it went —
Plague #1 — Flying out of Columbus, OH to Atlanta, Delta Airlines suffered a computer glitch (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/06/19/delta-flights-delayed-after-technical-issue-halts-check-ins-boarding.html) that delayed the arrival of the airplane were to fly on by about two hours.
#2 — As we boarded in Columbus, a major thunderstorm parked itself over the airport, and we sat on the ramp for over an hour before we could take off.
#3 — While we were sitting in the airplane, everything suddenly went dark. It was only a few seconds, and the captain explained we were hooked up to airport’s power grid and the airport lost its power. He quickly started the plane’s auxiliary power unit and there was no impact on us, but I’m including it because I’m going for sympathy here.
#4 — Arriving in Atlanta, there was no ground crew available to meet our airplane; another ten minutes lost.
#5 — By this time (of course) I had missed my flight to Rio de Janeiro. There was a Delta help desk around the corner from our gate, so I got in line to be rebooked with what seemed like half the people from our flight. After waiting almost an hour to get to the front, I was told I was in the wrong place — this desk couldn’t book international flights. I had to go to the international concourse at the far end of the airport.
#6 — Arriving at the help desk in the international concourse, I was told they were closed (even though five agents were working) and they seemed skeptical I had been sent there in the first place. They said I would need to go to Domestic Baggage Claim at the opposite end of the airport to get rebooked. At this point I decided, biblical or not, enough was enough; I threw a hissy fit and one agent (reluctantly) did rebook me there. The complication was there was only one flight a day to Rio de Janeiro (at 11:20 at night). And there were no seats available the next day (Thursday), but I was wait-listed, then guaranteed a seat on the Friday night flight. Two days of the week-long trip were now in jeopardy.
#7 — By this time, it was almost 1 am. I called five hotels in the area and all were full. My best alternative was to camp out in the airport (with many others, all the comfortable chairs were already spoken for).
Things did get better after that (although they couldn’t get much worse). The next morning I had the inspiration to go to the Delta Sky Club in the international concourse. I’m not important enough to get in for free, but they did sell me a one-day pass for a reasonable sum. I immediately curled up in one of the work cubicles to catch up on sleep. The main perk was an all-day buffet, so I also ate two meals there. And I was able to get on the Thursday night flight, so I only lost one day of sightseeing.
Was the return trip better? Not really. The flight from Rio to Atlanta was announced as being delayed for three hours several days before our departure (one member of the touring group I caught up with in Rio said this was the second straight week that flight time had a three-hour time slip; Delta has a problem). So I missed my connecting flight back to Columbus. Fortunately, there were multiple fights from Atlanta to Columbus, so the delay was only about two and a half hours. Although, to add further insult, one of the airplane’s engines on the flight overtemped on start (by two degrees) and had to be checked by maintenance — another 15 minutes gone.
But despite losing a day, the rest of the trip went well, and Facebook will be blessed with the photos. But travelwise, it really helps to keep thinking, “It’s better than a clipper ship.”