Typically I would say there is not a time, ever, when cost and budget does not matter, however today I have a newfound understanding of special circumstances. While traveling back from my grandmother’s funeral in Northwest Arkansas my sister and I experienced what can only be described as something similar to a National Lampoon’s Vacation circa the Seinfield era.
We set out on a day of responsible travel planning in hopes to beat the inclement weather dancing around the NW corner of Bentonville, Arkansas where the airport was located. The roads were questionable but slow and steady does the trick on snowy drives and we made it just fine. We arrived around noon and the airport was quiet with only about 5 flights remaining outbound for the day (not because of the weather but because when I say small airport I mean, tiny). We both checked-in, her flight was scheduled to go out at 4:30p and I had every hope of jumping on that plane to get out of town instead of leaving at 6a in sleet and freezing rain. Luckily her turnaround plane arrived on time, they printed a boarding pass for me and we were on our way!
For about 20 mins; long enough for us to settle into our seats and, of course, my nerves. They shut the cabin door, completed the safety demonstration and every 30 sec. or so the whole plane would shake a little, almost like a car that won’t turn over in the cold. They tell us the “tug” that pushes the plane back is frozen. The pilot gets off the plane to assess the situation, gets back on, informs us we may have to push (jokingly) and then get backs off. When he returns he tells us it is actually the wheels that don’t seem to be working and not the tug, pretty much everything is frozen and we have to deplane and call the mechanics. I guess it’s against FAA rules and regulations to raise a plane on a jack lift with passengers because 30 feet is super dangerous when we should be flying at 10,000. An hour later they let us back on, only to inform us the original problem was a brake line. First of all, please, please, don’t tell passengers these things- this is not helpful- as I have learned and continue to remind myself, less is more in almost all situations, this one included. Second, thank you for fixing it and NOW we are on our way!
But only for a second, now the brake line is fixed but in the time it took to fix our plane, the runway and our plane has completely frozen over, seriously? Now I’m searching for Elsa. The pilot informs us that we have to be completely deiced and the airport is technically shut down until things are taken care of. Oh, and btw, if you checked bags they put them on the wrong plane. A. thankfully I did not check bags and B. what other plane???? We were the only ones in the damn airport! Soooo an hour and a half later Elsa’s wrath has calmed down, everyone is getting their own stuff and NOW we are on our way!
Sidenote, why did I change my flight again??
Finally, we arrive at our connecting airport in Atlanta and just in time to completely miss every connecting flight going out for the rest of the evening. The silver lining is that we received a complimentary adult beverage on the plane and because the original problem was mechanical we got a comp’d hotel room, thank-you! Free is always good 🙂 They direct us to ground transportation and tell us there is a free shuttle leaving every 15 mins. Wonderful, things are good. We head down to ground transportation and find the shuttle is actually leaving in another hour and half. Okay, at this point this is an easy fix there are taxi’s everywhere, five of us hop into a taxi, tell the driver where we are going and NOW we are on our way….but not fast. We get off the interstate, the taxi driver pulls over and informs us that he doesn’t have the address and we must provide directions…umm, why is the meter still ticking? The kind man in the front passenger seat directs him to a hotel that is the correct address but a different name, then he runs in and sure enough it is where we need to be. Finally!
Just kidding! Even though it is where we need to be the hotel (the only one the airline endorsed) is completely booked and now the other area hotels cannot honor the voucher provided by the airline. We tried calling family and friends in the area but we learned that the area of Atlanta extends far over an hour, far more than we want to make people drive and our apologies to those individuals who received frantic “HELP” msgs or calls. Love us and forgive us. Now, we have three choices. Go sleep at the airport, stay in the lobby or pay for a hotel. Therein lies a frugal woman’s true moment of clarity, like a mother giving into screen time, chocolate or bed sharing, whatever you want?! whatever you need?! Take it! Just don’t take my sanity!!!
Surely, it was bound to happen one day and on February 28 at nearly midnight I hit my “I really don’t care what the cost is; just please get me where I need to go” moment. I called and instantly, without hesitation, paid for my always-reliable-and-uber-dependable priority club room. Didn’t even ask for a rate, handed over my CC info and done. YES! We have a room! So we go out to grab a shuttle but wait, hold the phone, the only complimentary shuttle was full so we went to call a taxi. This is where the night gets a little shady, my ever so friendly sister made nice with a kind woman who had a friend coming to take her from point a-b. So we hopped in a silver ford sedan with two complete strangers and we were finally.on.our.way.
In the end, the final hotel lay just outside the perimeter of hotels that provide a free airport shuttle so that will be a taxi in the morning but let me just say, the hotel, the late-night drive thru “dinner” (I regret not a penny or a bite of) the taxi, and the coffee I will be buying in just a few hours are worth every cent. Why? because today I have been harshly reminded that time and energy are in fact currency and sometimes when the airport-push comes to the get-me-home-shove, cost doesn’t matter.