Adverse weather conditions


Today I had a 5k run in the woods of Seattle (Interlaken Park, where I forgot to switch my GPS on so I have no record of the struggles and tribulations of having to run up a muddy hill twice) and in the afternoon got drunk watching the Superbowl at somebody’s house. They were close to SeaTac airport and my flight was delayed by five minutes, to 6:50pm, so at half time I got in my friend’s Honda Civic and he drove me to the airport. And this was where the fun began.

Alaska Airlines’ app notifies you when there are changes to the schedule, so as we rushed through the rain I saw the flight was put back to 7:40, and then to 9:40, and then to 7:40, and then 9:40 again. SeaTac is not an endless parade of culinary delights so we detoured to find a bar in Birman, a nearby town, and have a drink while watching the end of the Superbowl.

I was just finishing my Guinness when I noticed that the departure time was back to 7:40, and it was starting to snow. It was now 6:40. We jumped in the car and drove 4 miles in 6 minutes, and I rushed to the checkin machine to get my boarding pass.

It wouldn’t let me. The screen told me I had to seek assistance from an agent. It was now 6:55.

I rushed over to the agents. Or rather, to where the customer service agents should be, but there was one, struggling to handle the checkin of a St Bernard, and the rest of the counters deserted.

After ten minutes (and three different agents trying to figure out what a dog was) they got to me, made noises about how I was cutting it fine, and then told me I had 20 minutes to get to the gate, which was in a vague direction somewhere in the airport.

I rushed off to security, had to excuse my way past a 15 minute long line, then had the slowest x-ray machine in the world verify I didn’t have exploding shoes, then ran to an escalator, and then to the train to the N terminal. It was 7:17. The train would take 1 minute and thirty seconds. It was a minute away. I had to be at the gate by 7:20.

Luckily, Alaska Airlines ground staff don’t care about time, carefree souls that they are, so I got on the plane at 7:22 and sat down, my feet jammed against my bag as there was no space left in the overheads. And then we began to wait.

Enough snow had fallen now that the plane needed to be deiced, and SeaTac is not blessed with deicers, so that took a long time. But worse was to come. The deicing happened before the plane was cleared to fly, and by the time it had backed away from the gate, trundled to the runway and waiting in turn, it had iced up enough that it had to be deiced. Which meant it had to go back to the gate.

I was beginning to regret the pint of Guinness. Nobody was allowed out of their seats while the plane was away from the gate, and the booze was sitting unpleasantly on my bladder. Aeons seemed to go by, until about 9pm we got back to the gate, and then another eternity before the doors opened and I could get to the loo, dodging flight attendants dispensing a compensatory ginger flavoured cookie.

I returned to my seat. They redeiced the plane. We waited. They announced at 10:10 that they had their paperwork and we were about to take off.

Suddenly, up and down the plane everyone whose phone had the Alaska Airlines app installed received notification that the flight was cancelled. So it was nice that we knew that a minute before the flight crew did.

Everyone disembarked. A huge line formed at the customer service desk. I joined. I waited half an hour. Just as I reached the front of the line, an Alaska Airlines staff member came over and told us the counter was now closed, and we would have to join another queue in the airport.

And so it’s now 11:15 and I’m still waiting, and at some point I’ll be sneaking through my friends’ garage again.


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