BBC 2016: Travel Woes

As I’m writing this, we’re 34,000 feet in the air and not on the original flight we were supposed to be on. Travel for us has been, let’s say, challenging.

We started out with smooth sails on Thursday morning through the Redmond, Oregon airport and as we were about to board the plane, there seemed to be a problem from the previous flight that had just came in. A lavatory problem. They boarded us on the plane and while we sat for a few minutes listening to “we have a maintenance issue we’re trying to work on” to disclosing just what that maintenance issue was and then finally de-boarding us for a potty break and let us back on the plane.

By the time we got back on, pretty much everyone had lost their connecting flights—including us. (We were supposed to fly to Phoenix and then to Tampa.) Knowing there was ONE flight left EIGHT hours from the time we arrived, the only thing we could do was to get to know the American Airlines terminal in Phoenix really well.

BBC 16: Phoenix airport sunset

A red eye flight got us in at 6:30am Friday morning with an arrival time in my bed at the hotel at 7:11am (I checked as I fell into bed). The check in to the 7th Beer Bloggers Conference in Tampa, Florida started at 11am and the conference itself began at 1pm.

The conference itself was another whirlwind learning adventure and a ton of fun filled with lots of notes and pictures that might take a bit for me to go through and assemble coherent thoughts about, because of a lack of sleep initially (I can’t sleep on a plane) and a messed up connection and travel plans at this moment.

That brings me to writing this on the flight home, which is not our original flight (see a trend here this trip?!). When we booked flights, we chose to have a bit of a layover in Charlotte, North Carolina instead of running quickly through the airport.

BBC 16: Airport drinks with Deschutes and Devils Backbone
(To be fair, we were still in Tampa when this was taken. We were still in good moods.)

That decision months ago and “mother nature” created what came next. We were diverted around a storm on the flight in from Tampa. And of course within that 90 minutes in the airport terminal waiting for the next flight, that storm (or another) moved over the Charlotte airport as we were there (come on, give us a break!), creating delays because the airport went from yellow to RED (ie, now CLOSED) just as we got to our gate (about 15 minutes from boarding).

BBC 16: Charlotte thunder cloudsWe had 90 minutes originally between flights in Phoenix to get back to Redmond and I just knew we should have a backup plan, because some internet searches had the next flight to Redmond from Phoenix… get this… 24 hours later!!! A nice gate agent helped me plan an alternative possibility: change the flight to Portland, Oregon with a connection to Redmond, and I said that was okay because if we missed the Redmond flight we had an alternative with renting a car (roughly a three-hour drive home).

A short while later we thought that was the right decision and they helped us change flights to Portland. We went to the gate and kept seeing departure times go later and later (turns out the pilot wasn’t there… he was diverted from his flight in to Columbia, South Carolina since airport here was closed) and finally, we left about two hours late. We will be just barely missing the Portland to Redmond flight and will have to drive home late late at night.

Edited after plane ride: We missed the last flight out of Portland to Redmond by 30 minutes and had more issues trying to rent a car by walking up to the counter. After calling our kids as we touched ground in Portland telling them we’d be there soon, frustration set in after “no, no cars,” “no, no cars,” “no, we don’t do one-ways,” and a last “no, no cars” and a call was nearly placed to another beer writer to sleep on their couch. When we went out to try to find if anyone else might have cars off site, a lady from Avis took pity on us and helped us out! She “found” a car, even though they don’t do one-ways. After an expensive charge for 150 miles and three-ish hours, we were finally on our way back to Bend!

After a long, dark ride home trying to keep each other awake (mostly me talking to Jon so he didn’t fall asleep driving), we picked up my car and dropped off the rental at the Redmond airport at 1:30am and by 2:05am we were in our house with a 2:15am “ahhhh” in our beds—with a 6:30am “back to reality” wake up call. Phew!

Fantastic conference. Iffy travel.

If we don’t get posts out of our experience right away, we are playing catch up and will be out with our tales and what we learned soon.

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