When I noticed the PASS Summit and MVP Summits were on back to weekends, and there was a New Orleans Saints home game on All Saint’s Day (01 November) and Alaska Airlines had introduced a new nonstop flight to Seattle that would let me watch that Saints game and make it back in time for MVP Summit, I jumped at the chance. (Apologies for the absurdly long run-on sentence—it’s late) So after a fantastic PASS Summit I went to Seattle’s airport early Saturday morning. For reasons I don’t remember now, I had booked myself on an American Airlines (I do have status with them) flight through Dallas rather than the inbound nonstop Alaska flight.
In case you were wondering the significance of All Saint’s Day in relation to my favorite American football team, the New Orleans Saints, the franchise was granted to the city 49 years ago today, November 1, 1966. I’ve been to Saints games all over the United States, and even one in London. My dad keeps season tickets and I usually travel in for several games a year. It’s a fun bonding experience, and I’ve seen all sorts of miraculous things happen like Steve Gleason blocking the punt the night the Superdome reopened, Garrett Hartley kicking the Saints into the Super Bowl, and Tracy Porter closing the deal on that Super Bowl.
In general, I have pretty good travel luck. I suppose it helps that I live in a hub city (Philadelphia) so most of my flights are non-stop. Unlike my good friend Karen Lopez, who has her own hashtag (#karenstravelstories) I mostly have an occasional delay here or there, but I usually get where I am going without issue.
Today, however that would not be the case, we were a few minutes late leaving Dallas, and I knew there were some pretty bad thunderstorms around the New Orleans area. As we made our approach into Louis Armstrong airport the turbulence was incredible, and I was genuinely concerned about our ability to make a safe landing. As it turns out, so was the captain of the plane. We aborted the landing, and circled briefly before heading to scenic Shreveport, Louisiana (which is famous for Hope Foley having grown up there) to refuel and hopefully come back to New Orleans.
Oh, but American…
So we landed in Shreveport, and the pilot made mention of a minor mechanical issue that had to be checked out by a mechanic, in addition to our refueling, so to his credit he let everyone off of the plane. The flight crew was absolutely fantastic in general, but there was one problem, we were basically in a complete information blackout. I was chatting with the flight attendants and they were in the dark as well. After a couple of hours of this, I really just wanted them to cancel the flight so I could get my checked bags (yes, slap me now) and get a rental car. The on-call mechanic (who was a contractor and not an AA employee) was apparently trick or treating with his kid and couldn’t make it.
American didn’t officially cancel the flight until shortly after 10 PM (we landed at Shreveport at 6:30).
My DR Plan, or Why I’m Blogging This..
As a business traveler, you learn to plan for adversity and always have three fallback plans. It’s just like dealing with a major database issue—you need to have a plan of attack. As soon as I heard we were landing in Shreveport, I knew I was pretty screwed. It’s a tiny airport with next to no service to anywhere that’s not a hub. In addition to the Saints game, I need to make my Alaska flight tomorrow night at 7 so I can get to MVP Summit. So I had a couple options:
- Wait out the delay—this was problematic, but a plan to where you are going is always the best bet
- Get a rental car and drive to New Orleans—it’s a 4-5 hour drive, but I couldn’t get my baggage
- Get a rental car and drive to Dallas and get AA to book me on the first flight to New Orleans tomorrow morning
- Stand in line with the other people at the airport and try to get rebooked (LOL, don’t ever do this—you’ll get to where you’re going next Thursday)
After a certain point in time, I decided to book the rental car. I knew we weren’t going to get out on the plane until really late, and I started hearing murmurs of cancellation from the flight crew (pro tip—always stand next to the flight crew). As soon as the flight was officially cancelled, I took off to rental car, and got a car reserved before the hoard got there. I was in my car with my bags within 30 minutes.
Never Outdrive Your Headlights
This is a quote from “The Art of Racing in the Rain” that I used both metaphorically and in reality tonight. It was late, but I had the benefit of being on west coast time and napping on my flight from Seattle. So I didn’t feel tired at all, but my fallback plan was to stop and get a hotel if needed. It was also raining the whole way, which made the level of concentration required a little extreme, but I think it helped me stay awake. For example, I was mentally composing this post in my last hour. This same theory applies to solving a database problem—always look at what’s in front of you before trying to chase down other problems that might not be real, or that you can’t see in your vision.