I thought I had strategically planned my flight to DC so that I would arrive with some time to a little bit of sightseeing. The earliest I could get there was 3pm which would have given me time to do so. I could have gotten in at 1pm, but the difference in those two hours was an additional $300+ so that was out. 3pm was fine. The only thing I had to worry about was the weather.
Of course a thunderstorm rolled thru just minutes prior to takeoff. The good thing about Iowa weather is we know those typically don't last long. The bad thing is they last just long enough to cause a travel delay. Sure enough, the Delta Airlines lady at the gate announced the flight would be delayed until the storm front passed. No estimated time. Just until they felt it was safe. That turned out to be 30 minutes.
As soon as they announced the delay, I knew I would be in trouble. I had booked a one-stop flight with the stop being in Detroit. That in itself was problematic given my last experience in Detroit. But I was confident that even I couldn't accidentally end up in Canada with only a 30 minute layover. Therein lied the issue. That 30-minute cushion was now cut into with that 30-minute delay.
To make matters worse, the gate information for my connecting flight to Detroit said "see airport terminals for gate information". So not only did I have NO time to get on my connecting flight, I would have to waste some of that unavailable time to even locate what gate I needed to get to after arriving.
I will give it to the pilot. He flew his butt off because the estimated flight time was an hour and 50 minutes. He got us there in an hour and a half. Even though he was rocking the mess out of that jet as he brought it to the runway. I wonder if they give out pilot licenses at the University of Phoenix online?
I noticed the guy who was sitting next to me was going to DC also. I followed him and ended up at a gate that was just across from the one we exited. What luck! The flight was preparing to take off in seconds so I just made it. But then they couldn't find my name on the passenger list. That's when I lucked up even further when a friend from back in the day showed up. It just so happened that fellow Iowan AnDrea Nunn was helping out at that gate. She was able to locate my name so the gate lady could get me on board.
Just as I was buckling my seatbelt, the same gate lady approached me in the jet. She asked if I was going to Reagan Airport or Dulles. It was Reagan. The flight I was on was going to Dulles. The flight to Reagan had already left. The next flight to Reagan wasn't until 9pm. No way I was going to wait around in the Detroit airport for 6 hours. I just took my chances and flew into Dulles. I figured DC couldn't be THAT big, could it? Those airports couldn't possibly be that far away from each other. Why did that even matter? Because of course stupid me checked one bag. So even though I would be arriving at Dulles, my luggage would be going to Reagan.
I figured if the two airports were close enough I could just catch a taxi to Reagan and pick up my luggage at Baggage Claim. Maybe I could get there soon enough so my one bag would not go unattended for long. They were further apart than I anticipated though. Google maps estimated it as a 33 minute trip. It wasn't factoring in DC traffic and construction. It took my cabby almost an hour to get there. I was thinking it would be just my luck that my luggage would be "flagged" because it wasn't claimed. At least if that did happen, it was still during business hours so I could pick it up at the Delta office there.
When I arrived at Reagan, I went directly to Delta's Baggage Claim. There were several bags waiting outside and inside their office office which was encouraging. Except when I searched all of those, my bag was not among them anywhere. I checked with the Bag Lady to find out what happened. No real explanation. Just that my luggage would be there in about an hour and a half. I still have no clue how my luggage was even later than me. Still, you can imagine my relief when I finally saw my bag coming around the carousel.
So the moral of the story is always do the carry-on thing. After all of that, you would have thought that I learned my lesson, right? Not so much. For the flight back to Des Moines, I checked my one bag again. There was no way the same problem could happen twice in one trip. Well that's precisely why this post was named "Part 1"...