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Ground Stop

If you asked me Monday morning what this week entailed, my response was Home, Seattle, Home, San Francisco, and straight to Little Red Riding Hood in Logan on Friday night. All of this on top of a painful trip to Texas last week and a three day trip to Oklahoma next week. Plus, I was going to miss the annual cycling party. Not the most ideal situation, but that's how the work schedule landed. The travel gods must have realized I needed a break and by Monday afternoon (for many different reasons), Seattle was cancelled and San Francisco moved out a few weeks. No complaints from me!

So while I take full advantage of this ground stop & week at home, I'll fill you in on last week's visit to Texas.

We spent Memorial Weekend in Boise visiting friends and family. I committed to a Tuesday work meeting in Houston weeks before we finalized our personal trip, so I had to travel Monday. I woke up early Monday with allergy symptoms, but still opted for an hour ride with Rob. We left town at 9am and made it to SLC with just enough time to eat lunch at Red Iguana, where I also changed from compression tights to work attire. Terry dropped me off and headed home to unload the truck and get packed for his flight on Tuesday to Omaha.

I quickly learned that my flight to Dallas (DFW) was delayed and the one before me had yet to take off. The agent put me on the earlier flight since there were "weather issues" across Texas and she wasn't sure if my flight would go at all.
Having avoided the news all weekend, I realized the Texas weather was definitely an issue as we approached DFW.
I landed at DFW and tried to find any flight to Houston (IAH or HOU) that left before my scheduled one at 10p. After chasing two flights in two different terminals to only learn that they were also delayed or cancelled, I gave up and went to my designated terminal for dinner. The flight to IAH right before mine was now cancelled and those passengers were getting on my flight's standby list. It wasn't pretty and even though everyone knew it was weather related, tempers were rising.

I found a vegan option (not an easy task at DFW) and waited it out. The flight kept delaying in 15min intervals. The entire flight, plus over 100 standby passengers, were spread out everywhere but still within earshot of the gate. There were battles over outlets and prime sleeping spots. Around 10p, we were told that IAH was on ground stop but there was still a chance to leave as long as we took off by 12:30p when the flight crew hit their time limit.

At 11p, IAH was still on ground stop but in preparation for a possible lift, they loaded us on the plane so we could take off immediately. Houston locals were starting to hear horror stories about flooding, power outages, and tornado warnings. The Rockets/Warriors game was over but the fans and players were stuck in the arena. As we sat on the plane, it sure seemed like the smart decision would be to unload and try again tomorrow.

At 12:15a, the pilot informed us that there had been a conference call between DFW and IAH and we would be departing shortly. WHAT? I wouldn't be able to get to my hotel, so I knew I'd either be sleeping at IAH or a hotel nearby. I'd figure it out in an hour. We bounced all the way to Houston with lightning flashes, rain, and wind keeping our attention. We started the descent and it was obviously not going well, but the pilot tried his best. Finally, the nose went up, the wings turned and we were done trying. The co-pilot informed us that landing was not possible and the ground stop was back on, we were headed back to DFW.

At 2a, we were back on the ground after an equally bumpy return. We were asked to walk to the other end of the terminal to work with agents on a new booking. Remember the 100+ standby passengers? They had missed the amusement ride to Houston and already taken all the possible flights so we were all left with flights that left the next evening. That wasn't going to get me to Houston by noon for my meeting and there were warnings against driving as many roads had washed out. I was left with staying in Dallas for the next 19hrs and catching my originally booked flight home at 9p.

I called the DFW airport hotel and arranged a shuttle. I wasn't going to be sleeping on a cot and had to find a good place to remotely support the meeting in a few hours. As 3a neared, I'd been up 21hrs and the allergy symptoms were a full-fledged sore throat, runny nose, and headache. I needed a bed.

I was better off than the majority of the travelers since my work would reimburse the hotel and I had my carry-on luggage. A young mother had two toddlers and was about in tears. There were several older couples trying to get comfortable on cots and making sure they had their pills. Not to mention all the people across Texas dealing with flooding and horrific weather.

After a few hours sleep, I talked to my colleague who had just made it to Houston from Austin before several roads washed out. The sun was out and the floods were receding. My other colleague was in route from Miami and landing shortly. I did some work, had breakfast, and spent another hour with the airline trying to get a little earlier flight home. I checked out of my room and set up shop in a quiet portion of the hotel lobby to dial into the Houston meeting for the next 3hrs.
Tuesday afternoon command center - complete with cough drops, kleenex, and hot tea.
Before I climbed on the shuttle back to the terminal, I took a breath of outside airport air, which I hadn't had in over 24hrs when Terry dropped me at the SLC airport. At that point, it reminded me of a Las Vegas trip without the smoking or the chance to win.

I was able to grab a seat on the 7p instead of 9p flight, but still had some time to waste. I walked a couple terminals looking for dinner and finally settled on a salad. I was now desperate to get home and healthy. The flight was bumpy as the next band of storms was making it's way to Texas, but we landed on time and since Terry had flown out that afternoon, the truck was in short term parking. I'd be home in no time!

As my phone came back to life, I had a text that the 9p flight had been cancelled and I should work with an agent to determine a new flight in the morning. Another night at DFW might have sent me over the edge, so for that, I'll thank the travel gods. For now, I'm enjoying my personal ground stop and looking forward to my 100mile ride on Saturday!

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