Sunday, August 17, 2008


From Alabama, the plan was to fly to Richmond in Virginia to see the rest of Amy's family.

At least that was the plan. The flight from Alabama to Charlotte in North Carolina was fine. There as a brief stopover in Dallas, and all those empty seats were filled by loud laughing ladies in various hues of pink and red. There'd been a Mary Kay cosmetics convention in Dallas, and they were all on the way home.

From Charlotte, we were supposed to have a few hours stop over and then fly on to Richmond. That's where things started to unravel. We hadn't been allocated seats – was in spite of having booked tickets in January. So we were checked in, and our luggage had left – but were told that originally the flight was allocated to a 70 seater plane, but it had been changed to a 50 seater – and there were now 14 people too many.

Doesn't make much sense, does it.

But that was okay, because the plane – any plane - wasn't there anyway. And no-one seemed to know when we could expect one to show up. The staff at the gate certainly had no idea and they didn't want anyone asking questions like 'do you know what's happening?'

Around 4 hours later we were told that it was fine – a new plane had been allocated and it had 70 seats, so we could all go to Richmond now. When the plane got there. The new guy on duty at the gate was much more on the ball, and seemed willing to answer questions so we felt like we were getting somewhere.

An hour or so later a plane turned up, and we all looked expectant.

We all continued to look expectant. A flight steward who was also waiting to hop a flight so that he could get to his next assignment began chatting with me and told me that the airline had installed a new software system three months earlier and that this kind of confusion and delay had been happening ever since then.

The guy at the gate told us that there were mechanical problems and that the plane was delayed.

Half an hour later – and six or seven hours after we were due to leave – the guy at the gate told us that our flight had been cancelled. We'd all be put on flights to Richmond the following day. No – there weren't any hotel or food vouchers, and there was no guarantee that we'd actually be on a flight the following day. Oh – but if we wanted to go to Charlottesville in Virginia they could get us there that day. Oh – but our luggage would go to Richmond. regardless of what we did, it seemed that our bags were going to fly to Richmond – but not us.

Charlottesville in Richmond is about 2 hours by car from Richmond. That seemed closer, so we took the re-route, thinking that we could hire a car and drive to Richmond.

We got on the phone and tried to get a rental car from Charlottesville to Richmond. No luck. No car. Charlottesville VA began to seem like a lousy option. Staying in Charlotte NC was another lousy option.
We could get a rental car in Charlotte NC, though and drive that through to Richmond. We couldn't get our bags back – we'd have to retrieve them in Richmond the next day. That seemed the best option.

The drive to Richmond took about 6 or 7 hours and we arrived around 1 in the morning. The next day we went to Richmond airport to get our bags and were told that – despite everything we'd been told about them going to Richmond - they were in Charlotte VA. While the airline got them back – and promised to have them delivered to our hotel by midnight that day – we went to Kmart and bought underwear and T shirts.

Around 10.30 that night, our bags arrived in Richmond, at our hotel.

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