The airport ordeal

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Holiday traveling can be awful, but the reward for us was leaving Marysville, where it was just eight degrees and heading to Naples, Florida, where it would be a warm 82. But getting there was not to be an easy task.
We knew there would be many more people in the airport than usual, so we arrived early. However, we would depart an ugly six hours later! Let me just add here that I am always looking for a good story to tell you and urging my friends to do something wacky to get a good tale, but this one involved some of my personal discomfort.
Our plane was to leave at 7 p.m. and arrive about 9:30 p.m. When we got to the airport it looked like only a 15 minute delay, but that got much worse. Southwest Airlines has been good to us for many years of travel to Naples. In fact most flights in the past have arrived early! Soon we learned that many flights had been delayed more that six hours that day and all those people were crowded into the gates around us. Clearly the situation was ugly!
The ordeal began at TSA security, where both my husband and I were frisked more energetically than usual. They always ask if you want to go to a private room for this … seriously, are you kidding? My reply was, “Do whatever in front of everybody and be done with it.” I’m not sure what goes on in that private room.
Fortunately we had a small snack when we first arrived. It was a good thing because upon arrival at the gate we learned the delay would be about six more hours and our arrival would be 1 a.m. Oh no!
So now what to do all that time? Well, CNN airport news was on and for all that time the same stories were broadcast over and over with closed captioning to read about how awful President Trump is. Of course as soon as you are bored, the need to eat again arises, but I’m here to inform you, there is no eating at that airport after 8 p.m. Everything closes. Oh, but I spotted an ice cream machine from Jenni’s. Soon I had decided on the single serving, salted caramel ice cream dish. As I searched for money to put in the machine, I saw the note, ”So sorry, no ice cream, hope to have some soon, Jenni.” Just another insult to our situation.
Now to the reason for our extreme disgust. Our original plane arrived just a few minutes late, but we weren’t able to get on because it was going to Las Vegas instead since it was swapped. It seems those people had been waiting for seven hours for a plane. Of course, the announcement that they had swapped planes (the term they used) didn’t come until that one left. I’m sure airline officials thought that could be a safety issue with irate passengers everywhere. Hundreds of people had been delayed and looked very weary.
With large crowds comes the possibly of a health event and there was one. As I walked back to our seats in the boarding area, I saw an opening in the vast crowd and toward me came a gurney with a man whose chest was bared and six people around him. One was doing chest compressions and another was bagging him. Apparently those responders are always there on call, something we don’t think about. It was a sad day for the patient and his family.
Later as boredom set in, our entertainment was people-watching and thus the picture with this column of the woman, who was boarding the Las Vegas plane and hijacking our plane. She had extensive tattoos, including the words “Witch Craft” right under her bottom. She also had a hand coming out of flames on her legs and other related devil art work. She was quite proud of the extensive ink, wearing shorts that were way too short (remember, it was eight degrees outside)! All I could think of was the pain involved in the tattoo process and the expense, which we guessed at several thousand dollars.
Some people were also traveling with dogs. They were supposed to remain in the cages, but were instead walking around on a leash everywhere. Now, we love dogs but we wondered, with the extensive delay, doesn’t the dog need to, GO? Where do they do that? A trip outside would mean going back through security. Is there even grass in front of the airport? So many questions – no answers.
Southwest Airlines had a bad day, too. Many of their flights had long delays, and we don’t exactly know why. Maybe there were weather issues. They must have been aware there was near mutiny in the giant crowd of stranded people, so they did the right thing. They gave out flight vouchers. Very nice – we each received $100 to use later, but we missed our free ride to Naples from that airport, so we had to hire one for $108. Seems like a loss there. Not many cabs are willing to pick up a fare at 1 a.m. I believe, however, airlines are now more aware of pleasing the public when they do wacky things like give your plane away to others.
So again I wish you Happy New year and warmer weather!
(Melanie Behrens – melb@marysvillejt.com)



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