I don’t travel. Okay – maybe every couple years we fly down to Florida to visit my mother-in-law. But that doesn’t count, because really, all I do is follow my husband.
Jim likes to take care of me on the rare occasions we go anywhere. All I have to do is stumble into the car, doze while he drives to the airport, and hold up my arms for the TSA folks once I come to and find myself shoeless in the scanner.
This is why the thought of going all by my lonesome to Writers’ Police Academy has had my stomach in fits for the last week.
Jim, being the perfect hubby he is, drives me to the airport this morning and follows me all the way to the scanners. He keeps on smiling and waving from behind the ropes while I put my shoes back on and repack all the crap I’ve taken out and stuffed into 5 or 6 of those plastic bins. Hands cupped round his mouth, he yells out my gate number one last time.
And then I’m alone.
That’s okay, because the flight down is a one-stop, no change, and the email US Air sent me says very clearly, “Do not deplane.” It’s like a direct flight except for the landing and taking off again in the middle.
The woman beside me is nervous, poor thing, because she missed her flight, got rescheduled, and now she has to sprint across the airport in Charlotte in order to make her very tight connecting flight to Vegas. I feel badly for her, but inside I’m thinking about how she’s young and fit, and a run will do her good. I like the fact that she’ll be doing the running while I’m doing the sitting.
We land. She charges off. I wait until everyone else has de-planed, and then I walk up to the flight attendant and ask whether I need to go get my gate-checked bag, or will someone automatically stick it back on the plane for me?
She gives me a blank stare.
I say, “I’m continuing to Greensboro, and my instructions say not to de-plane.”
And she says, “This plane isn’t going to Greensboro. You need to go into the terminal.”
“But I’m supposed to stay on the plane.” I start digging through my laptop case, even though I know I won’t find that email – it’s buried under my macadamia nuts and swimsuit and information packet and extra socks.
“No, you need to exit the plane. Now.”
I head down the steps onto the tarmac and pick up my gate-checked bag, walk into the terminal, and ask the first official-looking person where I might be able to look into a ticketing problem. “Customer Service is that way.” She points.
Customer service isn’t all that far, unless you’re running with two items that barely meet carry-on specifications. But, hey – there’s no one in line, and a lovely young woman says, “Can I help you?”
“I was supposed to fly from Manchester to Greensboro, and I was supposed to stay on the plane. But the flight attendant says this plane doesn’t go to Greensboro, and I have to get off…”
“Can I see your boarding pass?”
She stares at my boarding pass with a look that can only be described as confusion. “How did you even get here?”
“But…you were supposed to stay on the plane.”
“I know! She told me to get off.” I didn’t mention that arguing with a flight attendant can land you in small rooms with burly men.
“Go back. Tell her you’re a through passenger.”
“I’ll call ahead. Gate 32. That way. Hurry – they’re boarding now.”
So I run all the way back to that gate, charge out onto the pavement and up the stairs, tossing my gate-checked bag back onto the trailer I just took it off of, and I slide back into the seat I just vacated forty minutes ago. I would have snarled at the flight attendant, but she wasn’t there.
Anyhoo, I’m in Greensboro now, all checked in and getting ready for my ride-along. So far, so good.