D.C. Bound Part 1: Airline Purgatory

23 05 2011

 

I'm leaving, on a jet plane--a lot of them.... Photo: Bobby Mikul/PublicDomainPictures.net

The Girl’s work through Tuesdays with Transitioners has reaped a big reward: I have been invited with other job club leaders across the nation to participate in a webinar forum on Job Clubs and employment ministries, sponsored by U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis on Tuesday, May 24 in Washington, D.C. “Tech Tuesday” has become a model in helping 20th Century workers get up to speed with 21st Century technology, and this information will be helpful to other job clubs. So I was given the honor of speaking about this.

Through a generous grant from the United Church of Christ (my church’s denomination), I was able to secure an airline ticket and have a bit of traveling money–so I am very excited!

Having never been to D.C., I thought I would try to squeeze in a few hours of city exploration before the forum on Tuesday. So, I booked a Sunday red-eye flight in order to arrive in D.C. by Monday, early morning. Once there, I had planned to drop my bags and meet my guest host (former UCC President Rev. Paul Sherry), then spend the rest of the morning/afternoon roaming the Capitol.

Mother Nature effectively derailed those plans. Storms and tornadoes out of the Midwest first caused a cancellation of my original flight, and I was booked on a later flight scheduled to leave after midnight. When I got to Los Angeles International, I found out this flight was delayed, and we would not be boarding until 12:50 a.m., departing at 1:20 a.m. By the time we left LAX, it was after 2 a.m., and all bets were off in making my original D.C. connecting flight in Dallas/Fort Worth.

I haven’t traveled by air in a few years, but am happy I still maintain some travel savvy. When I first learned of the first flight’s delay, I asked the attendant to change my connecting flight to one that I could potentially make. She gave me a choice between a flight at 7:00 a.m. or 9:00 a.m., giving me reassurances that the flight from LAX would probably make it in time enough to get me on the 7 a.m. connection.  I chose the latter time, as I detest rushing from place to place in any airport. I also recalled from past travels that DFW wasn’t the easiest airport to navigate, and not knowing what gate I would be leaving from, I’d rather have a cushion.

Boy, was that ever prescient! Not only did we not arrive in time to meet the 7 a.m. connection, but the 7 a.m. connection ended up being cancelled! I breathed a sigh of relief, while sympathizing with all the other passengers (who had traveled from further parts than Los Angeles) who had no idea what flight they would be rerouted to, and what time they would get home. Despite cutting into my tourist time, I was blessed that I at least was getting to D.C. in a reasonable time frame.

The differences in the country’s airports are always striking. I left the slick and modern Bradley International Terminal at LAX, and now sit in the drab and dreary DFW. Functional, definitely–but for sure no bells and whistles. It’s only concession to glamour is a large flat-screen video display of international cities like London, Paris, and Dubai. Save for the same standard kiosks like Chili’s Too and Starbucks, it’s a stark contrast. Even the attendants look different: less makeup, less flash and polish. Until I’m outside of L.A., I forget how the city’s image and veneer seeps into every aspect of life, including air travel.

Looks like my connection is boarding soon.  It will be interesting to see what type of presence permeates Reagan International.

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