It should have been so simple. Just a quick weekend trip from Minneapolis, Minnesota to South Bend, Indiana for a family event. My mate and I are big on getting to the airport ahead of time so we arrived at 11 am for a 1:30 flight, had lunch and made our way to a far-away gate about 12:45. And yes, last weekend there was a huge storm in the northeast but we weren’t worried. The weather was cold but sunny in Minneapolis; the same for South Bend.
But, as it happened, our plane was in Toronto, caught by the storm. We were flying a small regional jet listed as Delta but operated by Pinnacle Airlines. And there are few choices for a small carrier when a plane is out of action – in other words, a substitute plane was unavailable. Crew and passengers were in place, but no plane. Because of the weather, the plane had to be de-iced numerous times and we finally got our flight four-plus hours later, arriving at 7:30 pm, missing the first event but able to join our family just a little late for dinner.
OK, we chalked it up as an anomaly. This is only a short flight, just over an hour. But then came Sunday when we were heading home. Here we got to the airport about 2 pm for a 3:40 flight, but it was snowing a bit in Minneapolis! The airport had slowed down and, as we learned, regional jets are the lowest priority because of their smaller passenger loads. No Delta Club here so we settled into somewhat comfortable chairs with the Sunday New York Times, which we had the foresight to have brought with us.
The hours ticked by. Around 6pm we learned that in the course of so much waiting, a mechanical problem had been discovered with the plane. It took over an hour to try and fix it, but the fix was unsuccessful. Finally, another plane did become available and was sent down to pick us up. We unlocked our front door at about 10pm, when we had planned for a 4:40 arrival.
This has happened to everyone, right? We had found a small café on our concourse with fresh salads and sandwiches, and our little group of passengers became quite friendly as we waited. The next day we each received a note from the head of Delta’s customer care division, apologizing for the long wait and adding an extra 1,000 Worldperks miles to our accounts. An unprecedented gesture.
So it wasn’t all bad. As my husband says, “when does one have the opportunity to read the entire Sunday New York Times in an airport?”