Friday in Leavenworth Kansas started beautifully. The rain and overcast from the last few days had finally cleared. The early morning was sunny with clear blue skies and crisply cool. No traffic on the roads. When I arrived at the main gate of the post, the light at the intersection of Seventh and Metropolitan remained green, a near-miraculous event in and of itself. I crossed to the gates, quickly passed through, and swiftly proceeded through the post to the Beehive. The morning went quickly and uneventfully. It was near perfect.
I left the post around 10:30, making good time across the Missouri to Kansas City International. I checked in the rental, took the shuttle back to the terminal, wasted no time checking my one piece of luggage, fast tracked through the final security wicket, and was happily ensconced at the departure gate, well before the 1:20pm (local) flight was scheduled to depart back to Orlando. And that’s when it all started to slowly unravel into an unruly mess.
The Southwest jet that was originally going to take me home was part of a layover originally out of Denver on the way to Orlando. It was pulled out of service as soon as it landed. Southwest decided to use another jet that was flying out of Tampa to KCI, and our departure time was pushed back to 4:15 as a consequence. Then Tampa’s stormy weather delayed the departure of the Tampa flight, pushing our departure back another hour. As we all sat waiting, we learned that another group of passengers, the ones on the original 1:20 jet out of Denver, had been forced to disembark and wait with us. Everybody was milling around, killing time, waiting. And grumbling. Loudly.
Then Southwest announced some strategic (for them) good news: they were pulling another local jet out of maintenance and putting it back into service. That pulled the departure back to 3:50pm. In addition they offered everyone who’d been waiting a $100 voucher towards another Southwest flight sometime in the future. That killed the grumbling. Eventually the jet arrived, and after a bit of confusion getting everyone on board (the first group from the 1:20 flight were allowed to board first), we all trouped on board and crowded into seats on a full flight.
The good fortune about leaving late wasn’t the voucher, it was getting enough of a delay to let the day’s thunderstorms over Florida die down. Thunderstorms are bad enough, but Florida thunderstorms are particularly nasty. It was bumpy riding back, but not as bumpy as it could have been. So maybe one way to look at the long delay was it helped avoid the worst of the bad weather. Unfortunately at that time my ability to appreciate my good fortune had been worn down by a three hour delay followed by a three hour flight on board a packed jet.
I got back home around 8pm local time. My lovely wife picked me up, we stopped for a quick dinner, and I was finally in my home again. Next Monday it’s back to work in the lab, time to catch up on work that wasn’t covered for two weeks, time to recharge before the next trip.