New York was fine. We did about half of what I wanted to accomplish, but my friend did find a new pair of UGG boots for about 40% less than she would pay in Germany. Who needs Broadway when you have shoes?
Now it was Sunday afternoon, time to go to Washington. But the weather wasn’t cooperating. A soupy morning of light rain and dense clouds meant United Express flight cancellations, including a flight to Washington National and a flight to Washington Dulles. We were trying to get an afternoon flight to Dulles and with the cancellations, suddenly the flights went from being “wide open” to being oversold. All of them. My friend, beginning to pick up on how the standby game works, looked over at me with a frown.
Heh, heh. Hi.
Truthfully, I was about ready to bail. We were number on 7 and 8 on the list of a flight booked over by one with possible weight restrictions. I reserved a car and prepared myself mentally for a five hour drive through the rain down I-95. Before cancelling the flights, I chatted with a United Club agent who was very friendly and told me that I had a good chance of making the flight (because of two disconnecting passengers) and told me not to give up.
I smiled, politely, but wasn’t amused. I asked her if seven others might misconnect as well. She said she’d say a prayer for me.
Well guess, what? The prayer was answered. For whatever reason, my friend was ahead of me on the list–maybe because she checked in first. Anyway, about 10 minutes before boarding, she got called and was given a boarding pass. There was no room for me, I was told.
She told me to have a nice drive, but I convinced her that a road trip wouldn’t be so bad. I could tell she was skeptical.
Boarding began and everyone dutifully boarded the now-delayed flight. Once everyone was onboard, the agent said, “You know what? I still got a seat. Here ya are Mr. Klint.”
Presto! We made it on the flight–and in the exit row nonetheless, the only tolerable seats on a ERJ-145.
I was beaming though my friend was still stressed out a bit over the whole affair. But hey, United came through–we made it on the first and only flight we stood by for.
But after this day, I could not bear to make my friend fly anymore standby. Plus, I wanted to introduce her to how I normally travel, which is most definitely not standing by for an economy class seat.
So when we flew from Washington to Los Angeles a couple days later, we flew on American Airlines, in first class. And when she returned to Frankfurt, I bit the bullet and coughed up for a one-way business class ticket on Lufthansa, non-stop. It was worth it. Standby may have worked just fine, but it makes me thankful to fly with a confirmed ticket in a forward cabin on most trips…
And that was that. The true fun on this trip was not our time spent at airports or on an airplane, but these indelible moments will stay with me a long time.