I love to travel and when I do, I try my best to not sweat the small stuff. But, boy was I tested on my recent flight to Anchorage, in a white knuckle flight with layers of delays that made me doubt whether travel was in the cards for me any time soon. My previous several flights through the summer had been studded with severe weather and some bizarre delays, but this one took the cake.
There were layers of delays: severe storms, tropical downpours throughout our hour drive to the airport, area flooding, airport ground stops, lightning delays in loading luggage, comfort animal accident cleanup on our incoming flight, slow-motion boarding, and then a 70 minute tarmac lineup delay for take off. The odds were stacking against our making a connecting Anchorage flight in Denver.
It all added up to delays of more than 1.5 hours out of Houston, with only 50 minutes connection in Denver. You do the math, even with the time zone difference, we deeply suspected our chances of making the Denver flight. Normally, missing a flight is inconvenient and annoying, but alternatives for Anchorage involved also catching a 3 hour bus ride to Seward, Alaska and embarkation on the RSSC Mariner. Either we made this flight in Denver or our cruise was cooked.
Once mid air on our UA Houston flight, enter Becky, (our flight attendant) who overheard my lamentations. She smiled encouragingly and told us that we were among eleven passengers onboard who were also bound for Anchorage, and … that it was possible that we could still make the Denver flight. So, I took some deep breathes and redirected my fears toward enjoying more pleasant thoughts. By the time we landed in Denver and dashed across the terminal hoping the gate was still open, the agent greeted us and closed the aircraft doors behind us.
Bless their hearts…They had held that flight at least 40 minutes! This was my first experience of that kind of service from an airline. Somehow, between time zones, delays, patience, mercy and United Airlines caring, everything that had unravelled in Houston came together so that we could board the ship in Seward the next day. Would it have worked out the same without focussing on positives? All I know is that gratitude and trust found a way…
We arrived in Anchorage late (2 am Houston time) and the next morning we found ourselves walking through downtown Anchorage, before boarding our bus for the three hour ride along a scenic highway to the port of Seward on a mild and sunny Indian Summer’s Day. Was it worth turning my attention to happier thoughts and practicing relaxation? I can’t help but think so!