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I’ve never heard anyone say anything good about the Philadelphia airport. I should re-phrase that, I have only heard people say bad things about the Philadelphia airport, so when I booked my connecting flight through Philly en route to Las Vegas, I was a bit apprehensive. I was not, however, so apprehensive that I was willing to pay an extra $50 each way to avoid Philadelphia, and none of the horror stories I’d heard were terribly specific as to what the hell was so wrong with this airport. Usually people just said something to the tune of, “It’s a mess” and left me to draw my own conclusions.
I got a voicemail from Baby-Having Best Friend a few months ago that said “Call me right away, it’s important.” Naturally I panicked and called her, leaving her a message with exactly when I would be able to talk within the next two days. She finally called me three days later and said, “Ok, it’s not an emergency, but I would like to talk to you.” We continued to play phone tag until she finally cracked and left the message, “I wanted to talk to you about this and have an actual conversation, but this situation is this: I have just watched the Hangover, and I think you, me, Map Fleece, and Cricker need to have a girls’ weekend in Vegas. Now we should probably just resort to email cause this phone thing isn’t working.”
So we picked a time, and booked a hotel. Then I started shopping for flights, settling for leaving Friday from Providence, connecting through Philadelphia, and arriving in Las Vegas around 9pm local time.
Then the curse of the City of Brotherly Love struck me.
I arrived at the Providence airport (which is not in Providence) without incident, cleared security, bought an iced coffee and some trashy magazines, then had a smooth takeoff and landing. For reasons I can no longer remember, we were a bit delayed getting either into Philly or off of the plane, but I hauled ass to my connecting gate, and made it there just in time for boarding. Then we sat on the plane for the next two hours.
After 30 minutes of waiting, the captain told us that we were 25th in the queue to takeoff.
After 45 minutes, the captain said that there was lightning and we would have to wait it out before the tower would give us clearance.
After an hour and 15 minutes, the captain said that the direction we were traveling was now clear. We taxied onto the runway, sped up, then slowed down and drove off to the side. The captain said that the tower had just said “Just Kidding!” and we could no longer take off.
More time passed with the captain popping on the horn intermittently saying things like “Folks, I’m sure you’re frustrated, we’re frustrated too” and finally culminating with, “We have to go back to the gate since you all have been sitting on this plane for over two hours.” People were given the option to get off, stay in town, and rebook for the following day, and then about 20 minutes after that, the rest of us who had so foolishly held up hope of getting out of town were told that the flight was canceled.
After re-booking for the following morning, I went off in search of food and beer. I don’t really eat much when traveling since all that sitting kind of kills my appetite, so by this point, it was 10pm, and I had had a sandwich at noon. The only offerings at this late hour were fried foods, but I convinced the bored waitress in the first bar that I found to make me a plate of nachos. I ate nachos for dinner, drank two beers, paid $31 for all of it, and then went off to find a quiet corner to hole up in until 7:55am when my next flight took off.
I managed to find a gate where the seats didn’t have armrests, and CNN wasn’t blaring at an uncomfortable volume, and also found an abandoned US Airways pillow lying on the ground. With that, my backpack, and a tanktop laid over my eyes, and my pajama pants pulled on under my skirt for warmth, I settled in, hobostyle, for a long night of restless restlessness.
The following morning I boarded a plane bound for Chicago. I got off in Chicago, ate a bagel, and got back onto the same plane to continue my journey. Prior to this trip, I had no idea that you could take a plane that behaves like a train or bus, so I guess I’m glad I learned that (?) This plane’s final destination was Los Angeles, but I got off in Phoenix where the carpet has tiny airplanes on it.
Once arriving in Las Vegas, I hauled ass to the cabstand, got a lift to the hotel, called my ladies, changed into my swimsuit, and went to the pool to drink buckets of beer in the sun. After the pool closed, I insisted that we go eat Mexican food, since there is no decent Mexican food in Rhode Island and I needed some food in my stomach if I was going to be able to keep drinking. We went to a Mexican restaurant, ordered a pitcher of margaritas and food, posed for a picture with a mariachi band, and then I passed out at the table.
I have a very dim recollection of my friends fussing over me, and the waitress saying something like “she’s really drunk, huh? She didn’t seem drunk” and me wanting to protest that I wasn’t actually drunk just exhausted, but I didn’t have the strength. Map Fleece took our food to go, and dragged me back to the room while Cricker and BHBF went out drinking.
I now have my Philadelphia airport horror story, though I suppose if anyone asks me, I’ll probably just shrug and say, “It’s a mess” since telling the whole story takes too much time.