Monday, March 2, 2009

More Traveling blues

I made my mother cry on Friday.

No, no, this is a good thing. I surprised my mother for her 60th birthday by showing up. She hadn't thought that I was going to make it at all.

Still, that was Friday. It was supposed to be Thursday. It came down to weather, poor timing, and a bad call.

It snowed here on Thursday. This is not a big surprise - it's February in Minnesota, after all. I had arranged to fly from Rochester, MN (RST) to Rochester, NY (ROC) on Thursday afternoon/evening. I had a layover at MSP (minneapolis / st. paul airport, that is) at 7 pm Thursday.

It should have been a apparent that this wasn't going to go well when, the day before my flight, I was pre-emptively bumped to a slightly later flight out of Rochester (RST), 5 pm, which still left me with an hour to make my connection in MSP. When I left the house at 4 to head to the airport, the flight was on time.

By the time I got to the gate half an hour later, the 5 pm departure had been delayed to after 6 due to the weather (and ensuing snarl it caused in flight traffic across the upper midwest). It ate up just about all my slack time in MSP, but I figured that I could still make the connection, because surely things would be delayed in Minneapolis as well. I should have checked: that flight was still on time.

At this point, had I been smart, I would have left the airport and immediately started driving north. RST to MSP by road is nominally about 95 minutes. In this bad weather, it would have been a touch over two hours. It would have been dicey, but I could have made it. Had I been really smart, I would have realized that Rochester would have had problems and gone straight to MSP when I left the house. I would have had plenty of time.

But no, as it turns out: I wasn't that smart. I put my faith in the airlines. How idiotic that seems in hindsight! No one trusts the airlines for anything! Least of all punctuality! No, I dutifully sat at the gate in Rochester for the flight that wasn't going to happen. When the attendant got on the horn at 5:30 to say that it would be delayed past 8, I dutifully got in line to see about my connection. My flight out of MSP was indeed still on time (not sure how they managed that one, but it I checked it a few more times that evening and it did indeed leave on scheduled). Unfortunately, it was the last flight that could get me to Rochester that night. The next availability on Northwest (or NWA's new owner, Delta) wasn't until 10 the following morning.

Well, that really put a damper on my mood for the rest of the evening.

Weather is weather, and I've been stung by it before. Although frustrating, it is tough to stay angry at the weather. No, I was mostly pissed at Northwest for being so unhelpful and getting me to my parents' nearly a full day late...and at myself. Had I taken a moment to think things out, do the math, I would have quickly concluded that there was no way that flying out of Rochester was going to work. Although hindsight is 20/20, I do believe I could have made the right choice and driven directly to MSP and made my flight - if I'd thought it through. My only defense against self recrimination is that it's possible that, had I risked driving to MSP at that time, I could have ended up in a ditch, in which case I'd probably be kicking myself even worse.

All in all, I did manage to get to Rochester (NY) on byFriday afternoon. Boy, was my mom surprised!

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