FACT: Being pregnant decreases your intelligence and makes you do things that can only be classified as stupid.
When I booked our recent trip to Ohio last summer, I was pretty proud of myself. I booked the trip after we found out that we were expecting, so I knew I wouldn’t want to be traveling for a long time. Luckily, I found a flight into Columbus, Ohio, that was non-stop from Salt Lake City and our return flight only had a short layover in Vegas, so it wasn’t too much longer.
The week before our trip, Kyle asked me when our flight was leaving. Without hesitation, I told him it left at 10AM. Over the course of the week, Kyle asked me again, my mom asked me about three times, and a handful of friends all sent inquiries. I told everyone 10AM. The day before our flight, I sent Kyle a copy of our flight confirmation and printed out a copy to take to the airport. We were packed and ready to go late Monday night and got a good night’s sleep, waking up around 7AM to get in the car.
We got to the airport, parked our car in the economy lot ($60 we’ll never see again) and took the shuttle to the terminal. By 8:30, we were ready to get our tickets and check our luggage, so I was feeling pretty relaxed and excited about our trip. Unfortunately, the machine was having trouble recognizing our confirmation number, so we needed assistance from the Southwest employee. She looked us up, found the problem, and told us that we had missed our flight. It had left SLC at 7:20AM.
I don’t even know what happened.
I pulled out the confirmation that I had printed the night before and looked at it. It very clearly said that our flight left at 7:20 AM, not 10AM. In fact, “10AM” was absolutely nowhere on the whole document. It was like the numbers jumped up in front of my eyes and rearranged themselves into a different time. To this moment, I can’t give any explanation as to why I was so sure that our flight left at 10.
Mind you, this was Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving. It’s hardly a great time to travel in general, but it’s probably one of the worst times to miss your flight. The woman checked flights in Columbus (sold out), Cleveland (sold out), Detroit (sold out), and finally figured out that we could get into St. Louis for only an additional $500. St. Louis is a good six hours drive away from Ohio, so that wasn’t the ideal solution.
Finally, she was able to find us a flight through Albuquerque and into Chicago. Although there were no seats available on flights from Chicago to Columbus, there are enough planes going between the cities that we had a pretty good shot of getting on as standby passengers. So, off we went to Albuquerque (on a flight that actually did leave at 10AM) and after a brief layover in New Mexico, we found ourselves landing in Chicago just an hour or so after we were supposed to be arriving in Columbus.
Chicago is about six hours away from Columbus by car, depending on how fast you’re going, so theoretically we could have jumped in a rental and made it into the city in time to meet up with the five or six people we had made plans with for the evening. Unfortunately, we thought it would be faster to fly…and it would have, if we’d been able to get on the 4:30 flight (nope), the 7:20 flight (nope), or the 9:40 flight (nope). We didn’t actually manage to get seats on a Columbus flight until 6:10 the next morning.
The worst part about all of this is that we never left the Chicago airport. We could have used our 15 hours in Chicago to visit friends, grab some dinner, or see a tourist spot or two…but no. Between carrying false hope that we’d be able to jump onto those evening flights and not wanting to drop more than a hundred dollars on a hotel room we’d be using for about 5 hours, we got stuck in airport limbo. So, Kyle and I enjoyed some Chicago dogs (a couple of times), watched a whooooole lot of CNN, and propped each other up at 2AM when we got kicked out of the terminal and had to share a bench for a couple of hours in the baggage claim with people who were either stranded travelers or homeless.
For the record, even though we never slept and it cost us a day of being in Columbus with our friends, Kyle did not once get mad at me about this whole thing. In fact, he stubbornly refused to blame me at all and turned the whole thing into a great adventure involving delicious hot dogs and a wonderful opportunity for really getting to know the Chicago airport. I honestly don’t think that I would have been as great about it as he was if the tables had been turned, but it was sort of a lesson in how awesome it is to have a partner who really will have your back, even when you’re an idiot.