As many of you know, a few years ago on my way to Myrtle Beach for Radio City rehearsals, I was stranded in Atlanta overnight. Well, since lightening strikes in the same place, here is the story from the Black Hole Part 2.
My parents drove me to the Salt Lake City International Airport. I checked my luggage to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I asked if my flight was on schedule from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach, and I was told at that point it was. I said goodbye to Mom and Dad at security. I boarded the first plane that would take me to the Atlanta airport (aka the Black Hole). The flight was a little bumpy because of turbulence. At one point, the pilot came overhead and told us that due to weather in Atlanta, we possibly couldn’t land there so we could be diverted to Tallahassee or Austin. I thought, “Oh no, here we go again.” Then 20 minutes later, the pilot came on the overhead speaker and told the passengers to prepare for landing in Atlanta. What was that all about?!
We landed in Atlanta. I walked to the gate where my next flight would depart. When I arrived at the gate, the flight was on time for its scheduled departure. Good! I met up with two Little People who were in my cast, Amy and Cezar. Amy was from Tucson and started her journey at 7 AM. Cezar was from Connecticut (originally from Poland) and began early that morning as well. Amy and Cezar’s flight to Myrtle Beach had been canceled so they were on the stand by list for my flight.
My flight kept getting delayed later and later. It was originally supposed to leave at 7:05 PM. After many posted delays and a gate change, I finally boarded the plane around 9:30 PM. By some miracle, Cezar got on my flight. (It turned out to be good for me, but bad for him.) Unfortunately, Amy didn’t make the flight. All the rest of the flights were canceled to Myrtle Beach that evening so our company manager, Tim O’Donnell, found her a hotel room in Atlanta.
Cezar and I were excited to finally get off the ground and get to Myrtle Beach that evening. The plane pushed away from the gate, and then stopped. A half an hour went by and we didn’t go anywhere. I was totally frustrated because I had an aisle seat and I couldn’t see what was going on outside. I am so OCD! Finally, after a half an hour the pilot came on and said that the crew was over on the FAA’s 16 hours maximum and so the flight was grounded. It was unclear as to whether there would be another flight crew awaiting us at the gate that could fly us to Myrtle Beach.
We seriously drove around the Atlanta airport for an hour looking for an empty gate to park the airplane. The pilot finally came on and said that they were having a hard time finding an empty gate because either all the planes were loading passengers or the airplanes were broken. Nice, an airport full of broken planes! I totally disregarded the no cell phone rule and pulled out my cell phone. I called company manager Tim to tell him we were probably not going anywhere that evening. He worked on getting me and Cezar hotel rooms.
Finally after being on the plane for two hours and not going anywhere, we were allowed to get off the plane! Free at last, free at last! Once we got off the plane, they told us our flight was canceled and we had to go to the ticketing counter to rebook our flight.
After standing in that line for two hours, I was able to pull up our reservations on my iPhone app. We were both booked on flights the next day. Cezar was to leave at 9 AM and my flight left at 2 PM. We abandoned the ticket counter line and got in the taxi line. I felt like I was at Disneyland with all of the standing in line. Our next big ride was about to begin. Cezar and I finally got a taxi. Tim had text us the hotel information and confirmation numbers for our hotel rooms.
At 1 AM, we of course got the worst taxi driver ever! He drove around lost for a half an hour! What should have been a 15 minute ride was a 45 minute ride. The driver even had a GPS! He kept muttering it wasn’t working and hitting it. I thought it was very entertaining and was laughing my head off.
Then he pulled over on a dark empty street in Atlanta. Then I thought, “And this is how my story ends....” They will find my dead body along the side of the road in Atlanta. I realized then the only way to get out of the Black Hole was through death. So be it!
In reality, he finally got his GPS working and drove us to the hotel. I gave the guy $28 for the ride. (It was $25 on the meter and I gave him a $3 tip for getting us lost. I thought that was very generous!) After I gave him the money, he said something about an airport surcharge. I had no idea what he was talking about (and I wasn’t going to give him any more money) so I just walked into the hotel. As I walked into the hotel, I heard him say something about taking $5 off for getting us lost. I thought, “Do whatever you need to do to justify the money I gave you.” I was totally over it. I checked into the Ramada Suites Limited near the Atlanta airport. It was pretty sketchy as hotels go but typical for an airport hotel. I tried not to think about it and just went to sleep. I went to bed around 2:30 AM.
By the time I got up at 8:30 AM, Amy and Cezar were already at the Atlanta airport for their 9 AM flight. I was glad I wasn't them! I was still scheduled for the 2 PM flight. I got ready for the day and went down to the free breakfast in the hotel lobby which consisted of cereal and stale donuts. Tim the company manager called while I was eating and told me he got me on the 11:30 AM flight. I hurried to finish eating, went up to my room, grabbed my bag, and checked out of the hotel. I took the hotel’s shuttle back to the airport. I printed out my new boarding pass for the 11:30 AM flight. I went through security and walked to my gate.
The plane loaded on schedule. The passengers were all in our seats. I was blessed to have an empty seat next to me. They close the door and the gangway folds back. But we didn’t go anywhere. After sitting there for a half an hour, the pilot finally comes on the speaker and says we had a loose floorboard on the plane. I thought, “Are you kidding me?!” The pilot told us to make ourselves comfortable because maintenance was on their way to fix it. I figured that was the story of my life. I text Mom and Tim and they think I’m kidding. Of course, I’m such a funny girl! I text back, “Do you think I would kid about a thing like this?!” They both text back, “No!” The flight attendant was super annoying. (Maybe by this time, I thought any flight attendant would be annoying.) Anyway, he busts out the snack cart and serves us drinks and snacks. I thought that was a bad sign if we were getting fed before we even left the ground. Finally an hour after we are scheduled to leave, the plane moves away from the gate. Then we wait in line for another half an hour to take off. To say I showed up late to Myrtle Beach would be a gross understatement. I missed my first rehearsal.
Taking into consideration the time change, it took me 24 hours to travel from Salt Lake City, Utah to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. All I kept thinking was, “It was faster than the pioneers.” Just trying to keep a little perspective.