As I said in the last blog’s closing, I had some airplane issues, but ultimately it worked out about as well as it could.
I woke up in the hospital parking lot at 5-ish. Maybe it was 6:00; I don’t really remember. In very little time, I was on the road headed toward O’Hare but first needed to make a stop. A few days ago, I realized that I had left a few pieces of clothing at the residence where I stayed in Chicago. I guess it’s really fortunate that my plans brought me back into Chicago for my flight, so they put the clothes in a bag and left it outside. I picked it up before heading to the airport, and needed to also stop to refill the gas tank of the rental car. I did that and then conveniently passed a 24-hour Subway. I got a breakfast sandwich, and then spent a good 15 minutes or more standing in the parking lot with my trunk open, re-packing my luggage. It took a little while to do it carefully (because I have some gifts and souvenirs I don’t want to damage) but I finally got it. I got to the airport, dropped off the car, got on the shuttle from the rental car facility to the terminal, and then I got a message that my flight was cancelled.
This text alert from American Airlines popped up literally as we were pulling up to the curb at the terminal. I don’t know how many people get to the airport 1.5 hours early for a 1.5 hour flight, but I was hoping that I could act on this information before others. I instantly got in the ticket line, which had about 10 people in it, and simultaneously called Alaska Air (I was using their miles for the flight).
I explained the situation, they told me I was automatically rebooked on another flight leaving an hour later, but it was going to Washington DC. Normally, this isn’t a big deal because Baltimore’s airport is “in the Washington metro area” and is easily reached by a tram, shuttle, and train from DC. But I explained that I had a rental car reservation and a hotel in Baltimore – it wasn’t a matter of having someone pick me up in a different airport. The agent understood and told me I should “talk to American and tell them you need to be on the next flight to Baltimore.” I’m not so sure that is helpful advice. Wouldn’t most people say they need to fly to the location they purchased their ticket for?
Anyway, I started to call American but the line was moving quickly and I got to the counter before I made phone contact. I explained the situation, she checked the next Baltimore flight (which was 2 hours later) and said “there’s one seat left, do you want it?” I started to get conversational and discuss it internally as I tend to do [I’m trying to get better at this], then instantly caught myself mid-sentence and said “yes, I want that seat.” Then I had it. She commented that, “the flight was full – there must have been someone trying to change seats – now it’s yours.” Should I feel guilty? I don’t.
She asked if I was checking any bags, I said I had one, and she processed it. It was a few minutes later until I realized she didn’t charged me the $25 dollars. I got through security quickly, because again I had “Priority AAccess.” At this point I had 3.5 hours until my flight, but it was nice to have some freedom in my schedule. I’m pleased to say I didn’t have any frustration over this delay, because it forced some time into my schedule for working on my blog, budgeting, and stuff like that, that needs to get done. I had some postcards I needed to send and saw a real mailbox standing in the terminal, then spent about 20 minutes walking back and forth trying to locate stamps. I eventually found them. It was about 9am at this point so I stopped by a Starbucks, then went down to another Starbucks closer to my gate to use the wifi. While sitting there, I conversed with a pilot and a flight attendant for a while. About weather, doughnuts, how they schedule their work hours….you know… those kinds of things.
I went back to the gate around 45 minutes before the flight, and found a spot. I think there were several people who were booked on my original flight trying to get on this one. I could tell by who looked like they weren’t having a great day.
I sat around chatting with people and also reading a little bit. I like looking at what people are reading. I sort of use that to make judgements about people. Guilty as charged. I was curious what the girl/lady/woman [see recent post] sitting across from me was reading, because I could tell by the cover it was a Barnes and Noble “classic.” It was The Theban Plays by Sophocles. Wow, impressive! Maybe it was a college thing – do people really enjoy reading ancient Greek writing? I don’t. There were some Germans nearby too, and she was reading Hummeldumm by Tommy Jaud, a comic novel about German vacationers in Namibia. It’s the #1 bestseller in Germany currently. side note: I didn’t know Tommy was a German name.
So, we got on the flight and spent about 20 minutes with the cabin and cockpit doors still open, with messages being passed back and forth between the gate agent, flight attendant, and pilots. Then, there was an announced that the flight was delayed for traffic control reasons in Baltimore, and our 11:30am departure was changed to 1:06pm. So we sat around, and the funny part is that I believe the standbys who didn’t get onto this flight got put on one which ended up leaving before ours did. Anyway, end result: uneventful flight – crossword puzzle, reading, and I actually fell asleep while resting my head in my hand. I didn’t know that was actually possible. Our normally-80 minute flight actually took almost 2 1/2 hours because of massive storms in Indiana and Ohio. They actually flew due south into Missouri, then east. Pretty interesting.
In Baltimore, I got my car (though the rental car guy [kid]’s work ethic didn’t seem the best.) Set my GPS, got into town, and arrived where I was to stay for the night. I found a place on AirBNB, and it is a woman’s house. When I inquired she said she was going to be out of town, but offered me a discount if I would stay in her house for the night and feed her cat! Sure thing. The location was convenient. The architecture is very unusual in Baltimore. Everything looked old, and the homes were either traditional (and probably original) rowhouses or massive estates. I am headed back there at the end of my trip and will have to photograph some homes for you.
For the evening hours, I drove to the Inner Harbor area (downtown?), spent a good 15 minutes looking for a metered sport on the street – avoiding the $6 parking garages. Eventually I found a spot and noticed the meters are enforced 24/7 in Baltimore and it’s $2 an hour. I wished I had gone straight to the garage and saved the trouble.
I enjoyed walking around the inner harbor. It seemed like a fun place to hang out – lots of restaurants, large boats to look at or ride on, shops, some touristy things (like a Guinness Book of Records Museum) and some street performers. I wished my flight hadn’t given me so little time in Baltimore, but I am coming back here in two weeks to return my car and I think I am motivated to allow another day here so I can see more without rushing. It would also be cool to go to an Orioles baseball game, see Poe’s gravesite, and I’m sure there are many other things.
Final thought: My evening at the harbor ended this way: It suddenly got dark, the temperature dropped from 92 to 77 in an instant (according to my phone), and for about five minutes there was intense rain and wind. Then for the next 2 hours the sky was filled with lightning.
I walked up the northern side of the harbor, which is called Fell’s Point. I think it’s the nicer, ritzier, more-trendy area. There is a covered, outdoor theater right along the water and I noticed that a lot of people were standing around or in lawn chairs on the boardwalk that goes alongside the harbor. Know why they were there? Because the band in the theater was The Beach Boys! I stood in the “free area” which was probably 200 feet from the stage. I even had a view of the stage, and though I am not a huge fan, it’s pretty special to see an iconic band like that perform their hits!
After the concert, I found the Heavy Seas Brewery, and tried a few beers while eating their seasonal salad (inspired by the summer heat) of greens, blue cheese, frozen watermelon and large, marinated shrimp. It was tasty but not nearly filling enough, especially with all the walking I am doing. As I walked back to my car through the thunder and lightning, I walked into Subway to take home a sandwich just as a police car pulled up and several youth were apprehended / questioned / handcuffed and lying on the ground.