June 20, 2009

Chicago Midway International Airport - Chicago, IL

Friday, I boarded a direct flight from Kansas City International Airport to Midway Airport in Chicago at 5pm. I arrived almost five hours later. Why, you ask? How did a flight that shouldn't take more than an hour last that long?

At first everything seemed normal. I was settled in with my seat belt fastened, my tray in its upright and locked position. I was enthusiastically reading my copy of Dave Egger's "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius," which I am happy to say is heartbreaking, very funny and quite possibly genius (though I don't think it has been such a work of genius that I have staggered.) Then suddenly, the captain announced we were landed in St. Louis. I checked the time and it was 6:20pm. Yes, we should be landing right about now. But not in St. Louis. Why the hell are we in St. Louis.

People began frantically calling their loved one's from the airstrip to report this strange turn of events. But we had no answers. We were told the plane was refueling. But what does that mean? Is there something wrong with the plane? How could we run out of fuel? Why the HELL are we in St. Louis? Luckily, the very kind people at Southwest Airlines let us off the plane to get food. Well, other people got food. I quickly found the airport smoking lounge and began filling my lungs with that sweet, sweet nicotine as quickly as possible.

I made friends with some fellow wayward travelers and found some answers. Apparently, bad weather in Chicago had diverted a number of flights to this airport. I was among the lucky ones who were not missing their connecting flights. I met a speech therapist who was flying to Chicago to help plan a pregnant friend's baby shower. She had only moved to Kansas City a little while ago, to join her boyfriend after four months of long distance courtship. I met the head nurse of a hospital who was going to Chicago to see her daughter who had a futures trading internship. I met a couple who had been enjoying their in-flight drinks a little too much and had since decided they didn't care how long they were stranded in the airport as long as they could buy more liquor.

Then came that joyous announcement - our plane was reboarding! We had been cleared for takeoff! We were finally going to make it to Chicago! When I finally landed in Midway, I checked the time. Given when I had left my house to go to KCI and the time I landed in Chicago, it had taken me a little over seven hours. To drive to Chicago, would have taken eight and a half. So I'm not sure whether I made the best travel arrangements, but I did enjoy the opportunity to sit quietly and enjoy Dave Eggers.

Total Trip Time: 7 hours (including drive to the airport)
Total Distance Traveled: 500 miles
Soundtrack: "I Wanna Be Sedated" The Ramones


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