Yesterday I was supposed to fly to Dallas, then drive to Waco to give a lecture tonight. The next night–Wednesday–I was to be the guest of honor at the gala of the Friends of Texas Public Schools. Originally I was going to start the trip today–Tuesday morning–but when I heard that the storm of the century was heading our way, I switched the flight to Monday, to be sure I would arrive in Dallas and not get grounded by the storm.
Before I left for the airport yesterday, I checked with American Airlines and made sure that the flight had left Dallas and was on its way to LaGuardia airport in New York City. It was, so the website showed. My flight from New York to Dallas was due to depart at 12:45 pm. I arrived at the airport about 11:30 am. By the time I got to LaGuardia Airport, I received a text message from AA telling me that the flight was delayed by two hours. I checked in, went to the Admirals Club on a day pass, posted a few blog posts, and read the paper. I tried to switch to an earlier flight, but they were full.
There was a slight air of panic in the airport, since so many flights had been canceled. Long lines of passengers were trying to find another flight because theirs had been canceled. Passengers heading to Miami learned that their flight had landed at Kennedy airport, and they had to find a way to get there because the airport buses were not running
The departure time for my flight kept changing, getting later. When I was standing in line at the desk to check in, at last, the gate agent announced that the flight had been unable to land at LaGuardia due to zero visibility and had been diverted to Boston, where it had landed. That was about 4 pm. I began thinking of giving up and going home. The storm was getting worse. I had to accept the fact that my flight was not there and would not be flying to Dallas. I left the secure area and went to look for a taxi. There were long lines at the taxi stand and no taxis–though one would come along every five minutes. I contacted the car service that brought me and asked if anyone was available to take me home. They found a driver willing to brave the storm and the icy roads, and he was on his way.
While waiting for him, I received a text message from AA that my flight was taking off at 5 pm from gate D8. What to do? I called the car service, explained the situation, and they agreed to keep the driver waiting while I found out if my flight was in fact taking off. I checked in again through security and went back to the D terminal. I went to gate D8, and no one was there. I found a gate agent, who said he didn’t know if the flight was coming back. A nearby passenger told me that the flight had landed at Kennedy. At that point, I gave up. I again exited the terminal, found the driver, and headed home. It took an hour and a half to get back, a trip that is usually 30 minutes. Not only was the traffic bumper-to-bumper, but cars were spinning out and some were completely stalled on the icy road.
When I finally got home, I checked the AA website and learned that my flight had been canceled. It landed at Kennedy, but went no further.
I was so looking forward to speaking at Baylor, seeing my old friend Wes Null, who was going to introduce me, and visiting Waco. It was 75 degrees and sunny in Waco. I deeply regret that I could not meet the leaders of Texas Pastors for Justice. I was very sorry I could not join the Friends of Texas Public Schools for their annual gala.
Stuff happens, as we all know. There is much worse that has happened to all of us. I just thought I would share my story of a really bad day at the airport. I was glad I brought a sandwich from home. That was the only thing that was good about my experience yesterday.