This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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April 2004
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Off Tune

Well, the flight back on Song wasn’t quite as nice as the trip down there. Let’s see…

* The flight was overbooked and they had to bribe people to stay in Orlando (in retrospect, might have been a good idea.)
* The flight was super full, so they restricted people to one carry on, and I had to check my second bag.
* Once on the plane and on the taxiway, we were told there was a hold of traffic into Newark because of too much air traffic. Should be lifted “in just a few minutes”.
* Then we were told it would be another 30 minutes until there was news.
* Then another 30 minutes.
* Then another. They started talking about going back to the gate.
* They revealed it hadn’t just been traffic, but it was related to weather as well. Severe weather over the Washington area was blocking traffic from the south.
* Then the hold was lifted, and within minutes we took off. Yea!
* The GPS thingy on the plane worked to say where we were and stuff, but the “course” track it showed had us going out over the Atlantic and to the South instead of Newark! Ouch! That worried me for a little while, but then it appeared we were actually traveling in the right direction, albiet a bit further to the west to try to avoid what was left of the storms.
* The GPS also had a world map screen that showed areas of light and darkness. It was completely wrong. The sun was over the wrong place, and it would change every time it came up. Sometimes it said it was bright and sunny outside, other times it said it was the middle of the night. It was neither, we were right around sunset. This was annoying.
* Then they didn’t actually give the “electronic devices are OK” message when we hit 10K feet and they turned off the seatbelt lights. I figured it was OK, but they hadn’t actually said like they usually do. I finally got the laptop out after the meal service. I figured by then it was definatley OK.
* Then, as we were flying over Delaware, and due to begin decending very soon, the Captain came on the intercom and said that we had lost the weather radar, and because there were still storms between us and Newark, it was not safe to continue, and they would be diverting to Washington Dulles instead.
* So we made a sharp turn to the left and started decending quickly. Shortly we were at Dulles.
* (Oh, we traveled directly over Frederick, MD where I went to High School, which was a real hoot.)
* So, when we first landed they told us they would keep us on the plan awhile until they figured out what to do with us.
* After about 20 minutes, they drove us to a gate. The captain came on and said there was another plane at the airport and they were just going to move all of us to the new plane and keep going.
* When we got off, they annouced that the plane wasn’t quite ready, and we’d have to wait about an hour for it.
* So we all got off and sat at the gate. I connected and logged in real quick and send and recieved a little bit of email. They were giving out free snacks and soda, but I was busy with my laptop, so I didn’t get any.
* Then they came on the speakers and announced that there would not be a flight after all. As they explained, the plane was now here, but there was no longer any crew to fly it. The crew that had brought us from Orlando had intended to fly us the rest of the way, but because of the delays, they would now be beyond the manditory maximum daily time for a flight crew, and so would not be allowed to fly us anywhere.
* So they would get us all hotels and send us out on a flight first thing in the morning.
* I was at Dulles, only a few miles from Rebecca’s place. I considered contacting them and seeing if I could juist crash there and then catch a ride with them the next day to my place, since they were coming for my party anyway. But it was already late, and I still had to wait in line to be processed and get my bags and all that stuff. And plus, there was a bunch of stuff I needed to do in the morning, and if I went with Rebecca then I would get there just before the party, which would be too late. (And as it turned out, Rebecca and Chris were not around anyway…)
* I also considered the possibility of renting a car and driving home. But the airline could not give me a voucher for that, although they said they might be able to reimburse me if I called later, although they could not say for sure. And, as it turned out, I was tapped out and had no available money. I had a check in my pocket, but that would do me no good until I could deposit it. So I had to wait.
* So I stood in line another 40 minutes or so to get my hotel voucher, and a little stub saying I was on an 8:30 AM flight along with the rest of the people on the plane. (A plane just for us it seems, they put the whole plane on it.)
* Then it was off to get luggage. Dulles is a mess. They are constructing it. Looks really aweful.
* Anyway, got to luggage. A few bags came off the thing, but not mine. Along with a couple of other passengers, we started hunting for the Delta office. Took about 15 minutes to find it, and there were our bags.
* OK, off to the shuttle to the Hotel. The person next to me in line had gotten the Hilton. I had gotten Days Inn. I was not thrilled by that possibility.
* Got to the places where the hotel shuttles came. There were bunches of people from our flight waiting. Stood there maybe 10 minutes.
* Then one of the passangers from our flight came out of the terminal and started walking toward the cabs, and bellowed loudly “TO ANYBODY WAITING FOR THE DAYS INN SHUTTLE, THERE IS NO DAYS INN SHUTTLE, THEY DO NOT HAVE A DRIVER. THERE IS NO SHUTTLE COMING!!!!”. He then proceeded to get on a cab.
* I immediately headed to the cab as well. Was told the airline would NOT be covering the cab. It was $10. I split it with another passenger.
* When we got there, I was relieved to see it was not a Days Inn, it was a Days Hotel, and quite a bit nicer. Of course, I’d only have a five hour stay or so, so it didn’t really matter, a bed was a bed.
* Got checked in. Got upstairs. Talked to Brandy a bit. Lets talk about Brandy a little.

* I had called her at about 5:30 when we were boarding the plane in Orlando.
* Then again several times while we were waiting on the Taxiway to let her know of the delays and that we were finally leaving close to 8 PM. (We were supposed to get to Newark at 8:45 originally.)
* Then I had next called her when I landed at Dulles. She was almost at Newark and had Amy with her, and was short of cash. Thinking we were going to continue on and be in Newakr just a little later, she continued on to the airport.
* Then I called when it was clear we would not be coming that night. Brandy was very very unhappy. Amy was acting out. Brandy wasn’t sure she evben had enough to get the car out of parking. I told her to try to get home. Then the battery on her phone died.
* I called her again once I was on the way to the hotel. She had just gotten home. She had made it. She was very tired, and very upset that I wasn’t home yet, and that there was still lots to do for the party.
* Once checked in at the hotel, I talked to Brandy a bit more, then we both headed to sleep. It was after 2 AM at this point.

* OK, back to me. Wake up call at 5 AM. Just 3 hours of sleep. I fell back asleep. Woke up to my own alarm clock on the 4th snooze at 5:50 AM. I had intended to take the 6 AM shuttle back to the airport, because they had said to be back at the airport by 7 AM. I missed that. But the 6:30 would be fine if I hurried.
* I made it to the 6:30 shuttle with about 30 seconds to spare. I was the next to last person on the bus.
* When we got to the gates, the electronic check in was NOT recognizing anybody from our flight. There were a bunch of mad people. I was the second one to check that it didn’t work, and then we all headed to the regular peopled check in.
* They got us in fine.
* I got through security with no issues.
* I got to the gate by 7:05 AM.
* I had very little cash, so no breakfast for me.
* I sat down to log on and do email and blog this.
* The flight was supposed to be at 8:30.
* As of 8:00, we did not actually have a plane.
* At about 8:15, we got a plane. It pulled up at the gate. Several people thought that by the number on the plane it was the same plane as last night. I couldn’t say. Perhaps they fixed the radar over night. Or perhaps they just don’t care any more because all the storms are gone.
* As of 8:20, just a couple minutes ago, they announced we still did not have a crew. They said the crew was on their way from their homes in the area, but were not here yet.
* They say as soon as the crew arrives and goes through their procedures.
* They are hoping we might leave at 9 AM.
* There is some big guy with a goatee now completely going off on the people at the counter and demanding action and such. “We need something done NOW!!!” And screaming at them at the top of his lungs. EVerybody else is waiting patiently. Those people at the counter can’t do anything. It is beyond their power. They are offering him food vouchers and stuff, but he isn’t satisfied. They are telling him to call customer service for more to try to get refunds and such.
* Now more people are yelling that they want refunds and such and that we need something. The people at the gate are listening politely, but aren’t actually doing anything. We’ll see if the big loud guy gets us anything. I’m content to just wait. They will get us to Newark one way or another. Late, yes. Like 14 hours or 15 hours late, but we’ll get there. And hey, would I rather have had them fly through a storm without all the safety instruments and risk all our lives? NO!
* Anyway, that brings us to the present. I’m going to go ahead and post the blog entry so I am sure to get it off over this SLOW cell phone connection I am on before they actually do board us.
* That could be awhile though. I’m settling in. Time to call Brandy with another update as soon as I post this.

Fun stuff! Go Song!

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