“The Best Laid Plans…”

by John Delach

Earlier this month, Mary Ann and I hosted a family vacation for all eleven of the members of our three families at Hilton’s resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Being a typical beach vacation, activities included sunning, swimming, exercise, eating, drinking, reading and sleeping; repeated daily. Borrowing a term from my friend, Jim Hagelow, “We broke even. By the end of the week everyone was still speaking to each other.”


The five Connecticut Delaches and the four Brooklyn Briggs drove the 550 to 600 miles each way whereas we two seniors flew on American Airlines. Well, not exactly American Airlines as our outbound flights was on a Canadair CL-65 regional jet  belonging to American Eagle and operated by Air Wisconsin still with US Air markings. It left almost on time, it actually arrived early and our checked luggage appeared with a minimal wait.


We checked into all three rooms early, stocked them with supplies and ordered pizza to be on hand when our families arrived.


Myrtle Beach was under a stationary heat dome that brought hot, humid air to most of the East Coast from Florida north to New York. This included daily afternoon and/or evening thunderstorms. By Friday morning I was concerned enough these storms could disrupt our north bound flight scheduled to depart at 3 PM that I mentioned this to Mary Ann during our walk along the beach that morning. “I did some checking when I woke up today and we could change plans and leave around nine or ten tomorrow morning if we were willing to pay the extra charge and make a stop in Cleveland or Philadelphia. Also we’d arrive at about 2:30 instead of 5 PM.


Mary Ann liked the idea and I changed our flights even though it cost an additional $362 for the two of us. We changed the car pickup service meeting us at LaGuardia (LGA) and arranged for a taxi to take us from the hotel to the airport at 7:30 the next morning. We said goodbye to our families after dinner on Friday night and they hit the road between 5AM and 6 AM.


We arrived at the airport at about 7:45 to discover that our 9:34 flight to Philadelphia had been pushed back to 10:10. That was okay though as we still had plenty of time to make the Philadelphia to (LGA) flight scheduled to leave at 1:40 PM. However when departure time was pushed back again to 10:40, I decided I’d better find an American representative to see what options we had. I found a friendly rep named Sally who began to work with us. At first Sally thought it was a minor problem and we’d still have time to make the connection, but just in case, also re-booked us on our original non-stop afternoon flight. When the time slipped for a third time we made the switch as she couldn’t find open seats on another connecting flight to New York.


It was now only about 9 AM giving us five hours to kill and we did beginning with watching our fellow passengers scramble when the delayed flight was cancelled about 10 minutes after we made our switch. We also watched a parade of Spirit and Delta bound LGA flights load and leave while we sat around and waited. After lunch the weather began to change and cloud formations developed and moved in. I watched one outbound jet make a wide sweeping turn just after takeoff to avoid a formation closing in on the airport’s perimeter. Our plane arrived just before the heavens opened to a cacophony of wind, lightning and thunder.


My mood began to darken until I saw identical American Eagle regional jet push back, head to end of the runway and take off in the storm. Better yet, the storm subsided by the time we boarded allowing for an early departure. As we entered the jet way, Sally said, “It’s about time you two left my airport.” I rejoined over my shoulder, “I’ve been thrown out of better airports than this one.”


The flight was uneventful until we reached the New York area but our descent into LGA included both planned and unplanned descents with several disconcerting drops. We didn’t relax until the wheels were on the ground.


Our earth bound road trip families made it home just about an hour after we did and so it goes.