Dodging The Bad Travel Bullet

We were sad to leave Aruba yesterday, but mostly felt apprehensive about the travel day before us. It was the last day of the busy holiday travel season, and we were booked on Southwest, the airline that had experienced so much trouble during the recent big snowstorm. In anticipation of potential problems we had packed light, so we would not need to check bags. We figured that if we ran into cancellations or other snags, at least our clothes would always be with us.

We made it through the multiple layers of Aruba airport security and U.S. Customs without a hitch, but when we got to Orlando things started to turn sour. We got a text that our flight home had been delayed, and when we entered the airport the departure board was showing lots of delays and cancellations. The food court area in our terminal was jammed, and the only sit-down restaurant was not seating new diners. In the meantime, we feared getting the dreaded second text announcing that our flight had been cancelled.

But the travel fates were kind. We noticed that an earlier flight to Columbus had also been delayed, and we were able to switch over to that flight, without having to worry about the impact on any checked bags. The flight left shortly after we made the change, and we actually arrived at John Glenn International earlier than if our original plans had gone forward without delay. As we rolled through the baggage claim area of the Southwest concourse we noticed many pieces of luggage along the periphery of the room, in groups like that shown above. We didn’t know if they were the glum remnants of last month’s travel hell, but the scene made us even more glad to have gone with the carry-on approach and to be homeward bound, having dodged the bad travel bullet.

In The Teeth Of The “Bomb Cyclone”

It always produces a good, warm feeling when the holidays approach, you know lots of people will be traveling and anxiety will be high, and the inevitable dire warnings get issued about “travel hell” and disastrous weather. During this time of year, it’s great to see news stories like this one–about a huge winter storm bearing down on the Midwest that is expected to “evolve” into a “bomb cyclone,” just in time for Christmas.

I recognize that it’s got to challenging to write about the weather–how many different ways can there be to describe an approaching snowstorm?–but I have to give special credit to the writer of that piece, with the use of “evolve” suggesting that the storm is some living, malignant creature, ready to transmogrify into something even more fearsome and terrible. And, of course, “bomb cyclone” is the latest scary phrase for a bad snow storm with high winds. We didn’t used to call them “bomb cyclones” when we were hit with severe snow storms in past years; the weather people pretty much stuck with “storm of the century.” “Bomb cyclone” sounds a lot cooler and more hazardous, though.

Good luck to everyone who will be on the road over the holidays. Keep your chin up, try not to let the predictions of disaster and travel delays quash your holiday spirit, and be ready to move fast to lay in ample supplies of toilet paper and bottled water if that dreaded “bomb cyclone” goes off.

Concourse C, 4:49 A.M.

Today I’m on one of those dreaded 6 a.m. flights.  Dreaded, because I never sleep soundly the night before for fear of oversleeping, and dreaded, because you never know what you’re going to find in the way of lines when you arrive.

This morning the newly named John Glenn International Airport — formerly the homey “Port Columbus” — was surprisingly, briskly busy, and my friendly TSA agent said a hectic day was expected.  If you’re traveling during next two weeks, as I am, he advised to expect long lines and long waits, and encouraged travelers to arrive early.

4:49 a.m. Is definitely early.