Waiting For Greensboro

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

3:55 Waiting at gate F6 for the 4:15 flight, not the 6:48 flight. On which I am booked, not standby. Hmm. This is suspect. There is no movement towards boarding a plane.

4:20 The gate agent makes an announcement. “The plane is in the hangar, it’s on the way over, we’ll board it quickly, and have a 4:42 departure.” Awesome. Can still get home in time for dinner.

4:21 I call home. “Mom…” “Honey, we just checked the web. Your plane is delayed by 30 minutes.” I laugh. “Yep. That’s what I was calling you to tell you. You’re all over it.”

4:45 The plane leaving for Madison from the same gate has boarded, but there has been no mention of Greensboro. I look around, see several of the same people that have been here for the past hour.

4:50 “We’re just waiting for confirmation that the plane has left the hangar then we’ll board quickly and get you on your way to Greensboro. Anticipated departure time of 5:30.”

4:55 “The plane is still in the hangar. There isn’t anyone available to drive the plane to the gate.” A mixture of laughter and groans arises from the passengers waiting at gate F6 for a flight to Greensboro.

I laugh. There’s no one to drive the plane? We’re at an airport. That’s what they do. This strikes me as particularly funny.

5:05 The chatty gate agent announces he is going to lunch. We have no one to keep us informed. I’m sad to see him go.

5:06 New gate agent. There evidently wasn’t a hand-off meeting. “Hi everyone waiting to go to Greensboro. We’re going to use a plane that’s currently in our hangar. As soon as it gets here, we’ll board you and get you to Greensboro.” I wonder if anyone has told him there are no drivers available.

5:20 New gate agent announces they’ve found a taxi to take the crew to the hangar and they’ll bring the plane to the gate. Spontaneous applause erupts among passengers at F6. I feel a community building.

5:35 Chatty gate agent returns from lunch. No chatting. He is intent on the computer screen.

5:43 No plane in sight. I’m lamenting having never bought an ipod. Music would be nice right now.

5:46 As people walk by I notice there are either a lot of unfortunate fashion trends on the horizon or a lot of poorly dressed people in Chicago. Or maybe both.

5:49 Mom calls. She lets me know that they’ve updated the status of my flight on the web. Departure time 6:21 pm. Arrival time 9:18 pm. Hey! Chatty gate agent! Why haven’t you told us this yet???

5:58 “We’re waiting for the plane to come from the hangar. The crew has been sent over there to get it, but no one has heard from them. We were set for a 6:21 departure, but that obviously won’t happen because we don’t have a plane here.” Way to state the obvious. No applause this time.

6:02 I realize I haven’t eaten all day. Should I get fast food here in the airport and potentially ruin my appetite? I still have hope I’m going to dinner with mom and dad. I wait.

6:05 I look at the marquis behind the gate agent. It still says “UA 7324 Greensboro 5:03. United Thanks You”. They need to change that. That’s just wrong.

6:06 Wow. They just changed the board. Do I have magical powers I don’t know about? It now says “UA 7324 6:32 Greensboro” followed by UA 7161 7:36 Saginaw/Baycty.” Where the heck is Saginaw?

6:09 The gate agent has announced the plane has made it to the gate. Spontaneous applause. He hesitates, turns around, looks out the dark window and says, “Wait a minute. I just want to verify that.” And indeed the airplane is there. Yay! I will not be spending the night on the floor of OHare!

6:24 We’re still waiting. Masses of people are hovering near the gate, even though no boarding invitations have been extended.

6:50 We board. I am finally beginning the last leg of my trip. The man in the seat beside me is so excited to be leaving OHare he buys me a celebratory drink. The flight is festive. Goodbye, Chicago!

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