I love travel. I love to travel with my family via camping and Amtrak at this stage in my life. I love to fly for work solo and to get to my point of learning about the latest in nutrition, the newest agricultural practices and of course to taste nutrition at the peak of flavor and seasonality.
I was sponsored to travel to Sacramento this week to see the latest in vegetable production. Everything was all set for travel; the kids going back to school with my husband and mother at the realms. My sweet father even offered to drive me to the airport at 430 a.m. in Orlando on Monday, August 8th since I decided that a last weekend in Cocoa Beach before school and work kick off would be a good idea. And it was. We had a nice weekend boogie-boarding the waves of Cocoa, attending my parent’s church where my mother plays organ and of course we enjoyed watching the opening ceremony of Olympics and eating wild salmon, mangoes and my mom’s apple pie. Life was on point until 5 a.m. Monday morning.
Have you ever attempted to print a boarding pass at a kiosk in an airport? Me too—many times. All of the kiosks were down. I ask other passengers; we all have the same question—is it my credit card? We are then quickly directed into a ¼ mile long line to the counter. Eye-brows are raised. What do you mean? I should be at the gate in 15 minutes since I have the boarding pass ‘aka-I’m better than this line, aka-let me through, ok?—that’s what most traveler’s think and do . “The computers are down” is what travelers are told. That’s it at this point. We were either directed in a “checked bag” line or a “non-checked line”. The non-checked bag line was longer and I was told my bag was a tad too large anyway, so get in the checked bag line. I was nervous—and I rarely am in this type of situation. I knew there was one Atlanta to CA flight today and I did not want to miss that connection. I made it to the gate by 540a for the 610a flight. I saw everyone’s face. The most disheartening in all of this was that the employees did not know any more than we did. “All flights are grounded….globally.” What? That info was not mentioned at check in. I hurried. I had no time to check the news or Twitter……until I had time after 7 a.m. Wow. Anyone who was booked to fly on the 8th felt it too. We were victims of a computer shutdown. The way I quickly explain it to people is this: no one was killed in this travel hostage situation, but it was close. There were so many extreme emotional moments of this situation that again I have a top ten list of my 24 hours of Delta travel on August 8th-9th, 2016.
- A gentle reminder (for me) to keep a toothbrush, paste and eye solution in the carry-on….even if you think you will take your 2nd bag with you as a carry-on—sometimes the checked-bag line is shorter.
- Let the single-mother of young children go ahead of you in line---no matter what the time-line is.
- Hold said child for the mother to go the restroom when needed. Smile at these mothers and at the child. Make eye contact and smile.
- Bathroom breaks in a line have a new meaning: when in a crisis moment watch someone’s baggage while (s)he uses the restroom—so the spot is not lost. It’s only human to do this.
- Flying crisis=said flight does not match with gate or anything related to a computer, website or phone. Wait for these-2-3 hour minimums to verify your flight with travel agent, Delta agent-phone or there.
- Develop relationships-on purpose- with those around you/me. We’re all in the same situation. It’s ok to breach luggage holding while a fellow traveler has to use the restroom. I watched your bag and held your ‘spot’ in line. Btw- spot in line=earbud on your cell for Delta 800# and in person spot---many were doing this as each ‘line’ was 2+ hours.
- Nutritious meals take on a new meaning. The lines for any food were a ¼ mile deep due to the backed up flights. I found it funny that those on the LAX flight all had Boar’s Head bags since that was closest with the shortest line—me included. I bought a raw veggie/hummus dip since I did not know how long the ‘meal’ would keep. Yep, still thinking about food safety. And we did not want to leave the gate since the call to board was quick in this situation---very strange. “The flight crew is here and we are now ready to board” After 4 hours of not knowing---crazy.
- Everyone questions why they booked their trip. I met a man who was flying to NV from FL for a job interview. His flight was delayed to leave 12 hours after due and his interview was at 7 a.m. the next morning. “I don’t know”, he says. “I’m still heading there, but who knows about the job offer.”
- The highlight was that Delta provided snacks and drink on the way while boarding. Their staff knew to make customer service the best they knew in the situation. It didn’t fix everything, but food and drink bring a smile on a face. Kudos.
- After sleeping in the LAX airport after arriving there and missing the connection (for many reasons), my favorite moment was standing in line for coffee the next early morning with a lovely lady who arrived from Sydney and too missed her connection. She said I looked great and I said she looked great. She bought makeup during the time lapse. I cleaned myself up the best I could before the next flight and travel day. She said, “I decided yesterday was unexpected and today will be better.” I looked her square in the eye and said, “You have it—yes, it’s a choice how we look at it and we have it.”
We both were a bit teary. I have flown to China with less drama—slightly less! I still love how food and communication make or break a day. August 8-9 was no exception. Travel on and eat your best! Disclosure: I was not paid for any of this content; I’m just sharing my experience.