The time had finally come to bid adieu to Washington D.C. You could not have asked for a better day weather wise. It almost made me forget the fact that I didn't get a chance to see any of my DC friends due to my last minute trip there. All I kept thinking was that I should be able to make it home without any hitches with as gorgeous as it was outside. I should have known that it was asking for too much.
They got the flight boarded without a hitch. It looked like we were even running ahead of schedule. But then the airplane continued to sit in the same spot for an inordinate amount of time. The pilot announced to us that they were being delayed due to weather. He even admitted that they couldn't see any bad weather in the Atlanta area (where my connecting flight was) and it's clear DC was not having any. Apparently there was some inclement weather in between DC and there that was keeping the plane grounded.
I quickly checked my flight itinerary to see how much room I had to work with. Once again, my layover was only 30 minutes. The delay was pushing 3o minutes. If I didn't have another Iowa friend in the ATL, I was going to be in big trouble. I knew plenty of folks in the ATL, but none that worked at the airport. I had a funny feeling I was going to be in trouble this time around.
We never ran into any bad weather the entire flight. Maybe we were grounded long enough to miss it? Or maybe they were just being overly cautious and were wrong about it. At any rate, we touched down in ATL with no problems whatsoever. Again, even ahead of the projected flight time. It still wasn't enough though. I had two minutes to get from the arrival gate to my next departure gate. Unfortunately, ATL's airport was one of those large joints that required taking an internal train from certain gates. And of course the terminal I needed to get to was at the furthest end of the airport.
I arrived at my gate to find it looking like a ghost town. No one there boarding. No Delta gate lady. The airport terminals there didn't even have the decency of reflecting that the flight had already departed. I had to locate a Delta employee at another gate for assistance. She very rudely informed me that my flight had indeed left already and I had to speak with the Delta agents at the ticket counter about my options.
All three of the gals at the Delta ticket counter were busy fielding similar complaints from other customers. All three of them looked AND sounded very annoyed that they had to do so. Their attitude was as though they were VERY put off by the fact that they had to actually do some work. And whenever a customer would ask a reasonable question, they rudely provided an answer with a tone that implied the customer should have already known the answer. I just don't get how the Delta folks on the plane can be so cordial while the ones on the ground can be such asses.
I tried my best not to feed into their negativity when it was my turn. Anyone who knows me knows that that was a huge effort for me. It didn't matter. The lady curtly informed me that the next flight to Des Moines wasn't until 12:30pm the following day. They would offer a hotel voucher and that was it. It wasn't even a full voucher. I would still be responsible for $50 of the cost. She told me it was either that or I could stay in the airport. In one of them uncomfortable chairs. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear she even threw the little "courtesy bag" at me that contained a feeble blanket and some basic toiletries. I grabbed the voucher and the bag and walked off without saying anything further to the lady.
The biggest problem with the whole scenario was that I checked the bag that had all my clothes in it. I wanted to know if my bag was already on its way there or what exactly would happen to it. The Delta agent couldn't tell me. Couldn't or wouldn't. I wasn't sure because of the attitude. Regardless, it still meant I would be staying overnight with no fresh clothes to wear. Sure, I could have washed my clothes with the ounce of detergent they provided in the "courtesy bag" but what was I going to wear while they were being washed? Good thing I don't have any problem sleeping commando.
It turns out the Clarion was sold out. So the only hotel they would give me a voucher too could not accommodate me. I could have taken the shuttle back to the airport and raised some hell, but I honestly didn't see the point. Instead, I just took the shuttle over to the nearby Hilton Airport. They were sold out too! Was the World Cup taking place in ATL or something and I didn't know about it? I had to settle for the Hilton Garden Inn instead. To their credit, "settle" wasn't entirely appropriate. It was actually a pretty okay room with the exception of the rock hard bed.
The clock registered 10:30pm once I got to my room. Had it been earlier, I might have been able to call up some of my ATL contacts for a quick meet-up. That was a little bit more difficult that late on a weeknight on such short notice. So after joking that I would get stranded there for a layover, that's precisely what happened. Only I didn't have the luxury of any time to enjoy the inconvenience. All thanks to the good folks of Delta.