July 21, 2010 – 35,000 feet above somewhere…
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. this morning… just in advance of my 4:15 a.m. alarm. My flight was scheduled to depart at 7:50 a.
m. and the San Diego airport is notorious for morning rush hour gridlock at security. So the extra few minutes certainly
For the first time in years I drove to the airport and left my SUV in a parking garage. This is the same SUV that needed a
new starter last week. Well it started fine this morning and I was airport bound.
I shopped around on the web and found a coupon for $2.00/day off the regular parking rate at a nearby garage. On the
right track. The parking drop-off went smooth and the shuttle got me to the terminal in minutes.
To my surprise and delight there was hardly any line at all and I breezed through security right on time. My only snafu*
was that I misread a sign and walked to the wrong pier in the terminal. Thankfully I realized my mistake and reversed
course towards my gate - 41.
* Check out the definition for “snafu” at www.merriamwebster.com
As I approached, I heard the announcement, “This is the final boarding call for Delta flight 2244 to Minneapolis departing
from gate 41.” I immediately experienced a mini-meltdown. THAT IS MY FLIHT! But I thought I still had an hour to go. So
I broke out in a run, with luggage (on a cart) in tow, to the gate.
“I’m on this flight to Minneapolis (my connection to St. Louis),“ I said as I hyperventilated. “But I thought the plane didn’t
leave for another hour.”
It turns out the announcement was for Delta flight 2242 to Minneapolis at gate 41.
My flight was Delta 2542 to Minneapolis at gate 41 – one hour later.
“Can I get on this flight anyway?” I asked the gate attendant. I didn’t have a seat assignment for my original flight and
was not enthused with the thought if a 3-hours in a middle seat. But I had a bargain basement ticket and thought they’d
slap me with a ticket change fee. But she didn’t, and before I knew it I was in seat 31C – back of the plane but on the aisle.
The good news – I am now one hour ahead of schedule.
The bad news – my 4 hour layover in Minneapolis is now 5 hours.
Our approach into Minneapolis was quite bumpy and you could literally feel the plane drop in the sky – like being on a
carnival ride – a couple of times. We hit the runway pretty rough and seemed to be going a little fast. So the pilot
slammed on the brakes, turned on the reverse thrusters, raised the flaps, and we started to slow down. Suddenly the
plane lurched violently to the right, like it was starting to spin out. You could feel the pilot pull it right back on course and
continue the landing without incident. Was it caused by a crosswind? Snowy runway? (Hello! It’s Minnesota. Doesn’t it
snow here year round?) Or maybe a mechanic dropped a banana peel from his lunch on the runway? Whatever the
cause, it was handled quite well by the pilot(s) and I thank them for keeping us safe.
It seemed like a good idea at the time…
The guy sitting across from me was also on his way to St. Louis. We arrived at 12:15 p.m. and his connection departed at
1:15 p.m. Hoping I could again swap flights sans fee, I hoofed my way along with him from the G concourse to the C
concourse. Luckily the airport has lots of moving sidewalks.
We arrived at gate C21 in time for him to board the plane, but I was out of luck because the flight was full. Delta’s flights
to Saint Louis are via a regional jet (Delta Connection) that only holds around 100 passengers. Back in the day of TWA,
St. Louis was one of the major airline hubs in the country. After American Airlines gobbled up TWA, they reduced their
flights from 350/day to 35/day. So it looks like St. Louis has been demoted from busy hub to regional status. Bummer.
Halfway through my 5 hour layover – I walked a few miles and chatted with an off duty flight attendant who agrees –
theres nothing better than chocolate covered potato chips from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. She was
devouring a Rice Krispy treat topped with peanut butter and chocolate as we talked. I also talked with a financial advisor
from Tampa - a Tampa Bay Rays fan - so we talked baseball and I brought him up to speed on the PFA tour.
They have a full size mall in the Minneapolis airport with all kinds of sho and ps. I stopped at Brookstone and took
advantage of their shiatsu back and leg massagers – a welcome treat for the weary traveler.
At 2:45 p.m. I walked to the D concourse to see if I could get on the next St. Louis flight scheduled to depart at 3:15 p.m.
Nope – another full flight. So I will head out on my original reservation at 5:15 p.m. and I’m willing to bet there will be
plenty of empty seats available.
Right now I’m in the Delta Service Center – a small area with cubicle desks set up. They have a mail box, Fed Ex drop,
and other shipping options available. They also have wi-fi capability – for a cost. I have yet to meet an airport with free
wi-fi. The search continues.
They did offer wi-fi on our flight but – oops, sorry – it wasn’t working on our plane.
So I’m off from concourse C to concourse G to catch my next flight.
12:30 a.m. I’m finally in my hotel room in St. Louis. There’s a long story to tell about my connecting flight – which was
cancelled with less than one hour’s notice. I’d tell you the story now, but I’m ready to crash.
Tomorrow morning – Wednesday – I will be a guest on the local FOX news station. They want to do a story about my
pitch and the tour. Then I'm off to the stadium for the afternoon game.
Until then - keep smiling!