I am so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open. I think every family west of the Mississippi was flying Southwest today going either in or out of Dallas and San Antonio. Perhaps it should be expected the day after July 4 but what mad houses. I left the hotel at 10:00 am after being picked up by my daughter and finally dragged my suitcase in my apartment at 4:00. The actual flight was forty-five minutes. With little or no indication on the Internet my flight was cancelled and I was put on a later flight which meant at least 4 hours in the airport. Four hours without a book or anything to write on. And I couldn’t move! Why? you may ask.
I have learned to play the “old lady” card at airports and pre-order a wheel chair for transportation. Well, airport wheel chairs are not regular wheel chairs. The only wheels are on the bottom. They are designed to be pushed by an airport employee who does nothing else but push handicapped and old people around the airport. My past experience has been nothing but pleasant and I have met some interesting immigrants grateful for the job of pushing me to a gate or to baggage claim. They have asked questions like “Do you want to stop at the restroom? Do you need to stop for a drink or a bit to eat?” But not so much on a busy post holiday crowd. The more chairs pushed, the more money in tips.
So today I get pushed to the gate with no offers to stop and abandoned there. It is there I look at my boarding pass and snapped to the fact that I’m not arriving in San Antonio at 1:53. I’m not even leaving Dallas until 2:05 and on a different flight. Flight 20 was cancelled due to a thunderstorm somewhere. So here I am at Gate 14 in a wheel chair without side wheels that I can push forward or backward or anywhere at all.. Hmmm…no breakfast and not much hope for lunch. If I get up and walk to a kiosk, will I lose my pre-board status? My wheel chair? Not a pleasant thought on Southwest as boarding is like cattle lined up fighting for a place at the trough. So I stay.
Passengers are seated all around me and I am in the row of wheel chair residents waiting to board. Behind us are all the other pre-board folk with various excuses to warrant their position. To my left is column A holding all those who paid extra to board early. And by the way, when I called Southwest to get the wheelchair, I was told I didn’t need to pay for early boarding anymore. The operator also offered to make the wheel chair a permanent arrangement for whenever I wanted to fly Southwest. Pride made me decline the offer.
An announcement is made that the pilot had finally arrived and they would begin boarding the flight to New Orleans. The wheel chairs were pushed down the gangway, pre-boarders with kids began pushing strollers toward the plane and the old lady behind me got up to make her way to the plane. I sat watching the parade. A column marched forward, followed by B. A young woman seated behind me leaned over and said, “I will push you to the plane. They are loading now.” “No, no,” I explained. “I’m not going to New Orleans.” Then a pilot in uniform offers to take me. I decline the flight explaining that as tempting as a few days drinking on Bourbon St. was tempting, my ticket said I should end up in San Antonio.