Friday, January 12, 2007

Last plane out of Dodge

Remember all that talk last week about San Francisco being 35 degrees colder than Manhattan, and how mild it was in the upper Midwest? That wasn't the real reason I went there, and things were not quite as warm as promised, but Illinois, Iowa and Michigan were all in a range of 28-45 from Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I flew into Oklahoma where it was 75. I was well aware of a winter storm coming in for the weekend but was advised by multiple sources that it would not come in until late, late Friday night. So I was assured that my 3 p.m. flight to Phoenix was a no brainer.

When I woke at 6 a.m., the ice (which is expected to collect 2-3 inches) was already falling, so I was at the airport before 8 a.m. I looked at every possible option as flights started being cancelled shortly before 9 a.m. The board of flights filled with red and the dreaded words "cancelled" with one little glimmer of light "Phoenix - 2:56 p.m. - on time."

A co-worker made it out on one of the two flights that made it that morning and mid-afternoon to Kansas City, delayed by four hours and after being cleared after five de-icings.

The plane from Phoenix arrived just 10 minutes late and a window of 50 minutes to clean and retool for my flight. It was literally the last flight out, as Southwest announced it would not fly until at least Monday. Others said the airport would likely close by 3 p.m. and not open until Tuesday, maybe Wednesday.

Yet our plane boarded, we were told that we'd have 15 minutes to de-ice and all our connections would be made easily. The de-icing was repeated three times and took 90 minutes. We were cleared to take off...and then there was an announcement. A few customers "had been shouting," and wanted to get off. So we had to go back to the gate and let them off. Once there, the customers raised a ruckus over insisting that their bags be removed. They were. We spent 45 minutes de-icing as the sun set and the words "We're screwed were repeated down to the 80 year old woman from Lawton two seats back.

At 6:08, we were cleared as the little Moscow on the Prairie faded as we forged through clouds and emerged into a pinkish horizion.

I arrived on another planet named Phoenix where the ground crew as in shorts and polo shirts. I made it home in ample time to sort mail a full hour before the 11 news.

And they are complaining about the "cold" in Northern Califorina!

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