Wedding Week Recap Day 8 – Nothing Like a Good Old Fashion Polar Vortex to End a Wedding Week

Hey Internet! It is the final day of Wedding Week Recap! I cannot believe I have posted 8 blogs in 8 days! I guess that makes up for my small hiatus during the holidays/actual wedding week. For Days 1-7 go:
Here (Day 1)
Here (Day 2)
Here (Day 3)
Here (Day 4)
Here (Day 5)
Here (Day 6) and
Here (Day 7)

Day 8 was very sad because it was the day I had to leave and go back to real life and, that is no fun. The bride, the groom, the bride’s family and I went to mass and then they drove me to the airport. And I felt like crying. I really didn’t want to leave. But I will be back. I will always go back.

Anyway, all morning I had been checking the flight statu,s because the internet (and my mother) was FREAKING OUT about the weather, and it kept telling me that my flight was not canceled. I had a layover in Kansas City, but it was the kind of layover where you don’t get off the plane, so when I booked it I thought it would be fine. Plus I figured if the Chicago portion was canceled I could just stay in Denver and be like “Oops! Oh well!”… I really didn’t want to leave…

But I got to my gate and they kept saying we were going to Chicago and when I boarded the sign said “Chicago Midway.” So I figured I wasn’t lucky enough to get snowed in in Denver. So we boarded and were getting ready to take off and a flight attendant came on over the intercom and is like “Welcome to flight blah blah blah, going to Kansas City. Blah Blah Blah.”

There was NO mention of continuing service to Chicago, Internet. No. Mention. At. All.

That’s when I started to panic.

I sprung for the $8 in-flight internet access so I could check the fight status again and it said it was canceled. Awesome. There still had been NO MENTION of our flight being canceled at the airport or on the plane, so I called a flight attendant and asked her if I had missed an announcement since the internet was telling me that it was canceled.

“We are your flight crew to Chicago and we haven’t been told anything.” She told me. “As far as we know we are still going to Chicago. If we hear anything new we will let you know.”

The flight from Denver to Kansas City is pretty short, but the entire time I was stressing about if I was going to make it home and what if I got stuck in Kansas City and why couldn’t I just have stayed in Denver and are they lying to me and I COULD’VE STAYED IN DENVER! I asked the flight attendants 2 more times and kept getting the same answer. “As far as we know we are still going to Chicago. When we land, do not get off the plane.”

But then we landed. We landed and people started to get off and, as if it was an after thought, a flight attendant got on the intercom again said “By the way, if you were headed to Chicago on this plane, that flight has been canceled. This plane is now headed to Dallas. Everybody, please get off the plane.” Awesome. I was so glad this was happening.*

So I got off the plane and located the line for customer service. And It. Was. So. Long. I was seriously probably about the 50th person in line. I texted my dad and told him what was happening and he told me to call Southwest to see if they could rebook me over the phone. I looked up the number and called it and got a busy signal. But I ain’t gots no where to go so I called again and got a machine and the machine told me that it would be a 24-29 minute wait. But since I wasn’t going anywhere I stayed on hold. For 37 minutes. Thirty. Seven. Minutes.

Thirty seven minutes later I was less than halfway through the line and a woman answered the phone and rebooked me on a later flight that night. I was super relieved because it sounded like I would still make it to Chicago that night, but a little bummed because she told me I had to stay in live to get my boarding pass printed. Meanwhile, everybody around me was getting frustrated. It seemed that Midway was the only Midwestern airport that wasn’t completely closed. St. Louis, Minneapolis and Indianapolis were all closed. Southwest doesn’t fly into O’hare, but my mom told me it was closed as well. In addition Midway, although it was open, had been canceling flights (like mine!) all day. So I was not entirely optimistic. The people in front of me were desperately trying to St. Louis and were looking into trains and the man behind me had been on the same doomed Chicago flight as I was.

We waited and waited and waited and waited and after TWO HOURS in line I got to the customer service desk. They printed my boarding pass and assured me that my checked bags would be put on one of the next 2  flights going out to Chicago. I was on the second of those flights, so in theory it looked like it would all work out. In theory.

At this point I had about 30 minutes before my plane was going to start boarding so I went to the restroom and grabbed a coffee and sandwich from Starbucks and went to my gate, which was next to another SUPER LONG customer service line. As soon as I sat down and opened my sandwich they made an announcement that, while our flight was still going to Chicago, the flight was short a flight attendant and would probably be delayed an hour while they waited for another one to land. Super.

Two minutes later they made a “Nevermind! We found someone!” announcement, and then we proceeded to wait over an hour. Southwest is full of liars internet. Dang them and their cheap flights and their free checked baggage and their no change fees!!!

But! We got on the plane! And it took off! And we landed! So that was good. I texted my mom when I landed and she told me it was a wind chill of -25 degrees, so it was a miracle from Jesus Above that we landed.

It was around 10 pm when we de-boarded (My original flight had been due in at 5:20) And as soon as I got on the escalator down to baggage claim, I knew I was in trouble. I have never seen such a crowded baggage claim in my life. Each open conveyer belt had between 3-5 flights arriving on it and there were tons of people swarming them. I could barely see the luggage coming out.

Not that it mattered.

This process took a good long while, but this blog is already pretty epic so I am just going to skip to: My bags were not there. Great.

I went to get in the “My bags are lost” line and found out why baggage claim was so crowded. It was a mess on one side of the escalator because the other side of the escalator was being used to hold hundreds upon hundreds of unclaimed bags. (A theme of the evening that I learned while standing in the missing bag line was “My bags left without me” or “I left without my bags.” It was a mad house.) The bags were sorted by departing airports, but mine were not in the Denver or Kansas City sections, so I got in line. Right in front of the man who had been behind me in the customer service line in Kansas City. It’s a small world after all.

I was probably around the 40th person in line, so I settled in for at least another hour of human misery. At this point I was too tired to be upset, and I honestly wasn’t too worried. I figured they would fine my bags, having them get to Chicago that night had been unlikely at best anyway. I just wanted to sleep. Other people were less calm. It is ASTOUNDING how many people who were traveling through Chicago during what was being called a POLAR VORTEX (I learned that term on facebook while waiting in the first line) who PUT THEIR COATS IN  THEIR CHECKED BAGGAGE. Listen. If you are traveling while half of the country is under snow and SETTING RECORDS about how cold they are, BRING A COAT. I don’t care if you are going from California to Florida with just a short layover in Chicago, TAKE A FRACKING COAT. Because, and now I can say this from experience, -25 degrees is COLD. Like you want to die cold. Like CHICAGOANS won’t go outside cold. Like IT WILL ACTUALLY KILL YOU cold. Bring. A. Coat.

Luckily I did have a coat. I was no where near as bundled as I needed to be for that kind of cold, but I had a coat and my earmuffs (THANK YOU BESTIE. THEY SAVED ME.) so compared to many travelers I was doing good. I got through the lost bag line around 12:30 and then called for a taxi home. I had to wait around 7 minutes for it (I stood outside for about one of those minutes and thought I would die) and was FINALLY headed home. The roads were bad, but we made it. I got home around 1:45 got went straight to bed, praying for a snow day the next day and knowing it would never happen.

Epilogue: I didn’t have a snow day the next day, but my mom did. They found my bags on Monday and they were delivered on Tuesday. So it all worked out. Chicago has thawed, kind of, and I am adjusting back into real life. All the hassle was totally worth it.

And that is the end of Wedding Week Recap! It’s been fun internet. I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about wedding week as much as I enjoyed living it.

 

*That was sarcasm. I was not glad.

 




2 Responses to Wedding Week Recap Day 8 – Nothing Like a Good Old Fashion Polar Vortex to End a Wedding Week

  1. jacquie hasko says:

    Liz,
    You don’t know me but I was Regina’s high school drama teacher. I just want to thank you for such a well written and entertaining blog on Regina’s wedding. I loved reading it and reading about your adventure getting home. Thank for sharing.

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