Last week, I went on a business trip. It was my first business trip since the pandemic started, and I was a bit nervous at the start. I knew that I was going to wear my mask on the plane and in the airport and just as much as possible. Maybe the COVID risks aren’t that high, but “conference crud” has been a thing since before the pandemic, and I had things to do this week that I wanted to be well for. 

The travel started off well enough. The flight from Boise to Salt Lake was short and uneventful. The next flight to the destination was delayed, but not too long. It actually made the layover better, because there was time to get food without worrying about missing the connection. Again, an uneventful flight, though quite a bit longer all the way through to Nashville. 

Easy enough to check in to the hotel, and I then walked over to a nearby Whole Foods to get some snacks and a dinner. I could have gone to a restaurant for dinner, but it’s a lot harder to know exactly what ingredients are in foods at a restaurant. It’s just easier to buy a frozen meal. Plus, I got a popsicle for the walk back to the hotel, which was a fabulous idea if I do say so myself. 

The conference itself was good, and I learned a bunch. Departure was early Saturday morning, and it taught me something else entirely. 

See, the flight left at 5:25 am Saturday morning. Two hours before that would be 3:25, but the security line in Nashville doesn’t open until 4 am, so the planned departure from the hotel was set for 3:15 in the AM. I tried to go to bed a little after 9, hoping I would get some 4 to 5 hours of sleep. Instead, I woke up just before midnight and couldn’t get back to sleep. 

I tried, I really did. But I ended up being wakeful until after 2 am. I did doze off enough to miss my 2:35 am alarm, but the 2:45 am alarm got me up. I ate some cut watermelon I’d gotten from Whole Foods and got dressed. I didn’t bother with a shower, just double checked everything was packed and left a tip for housekeeping. 

I was done before 3:15, but I was still second to last to arrive of my group. We got in an Uber, made it to the airport where I then had to wait in line to check my bag. Then security – where I had to go through twice because I forgot to drink the last of the water in my bottle. I blame that on the Uber – it was a tight fit for 5 passengers plus luggage, and instead of drinking my water, I had to use my elbows to keep other people’s luggage from braining me. 

But we made it through and got on the short flight to Atlanta. Yes, Atlanta. Because why not go south and east when your destination is north and west? That’s where things started to fall apart. Our flight’s departure was delayed 50 minutes, and then 10 more. Then we sat on the tarmac after boarding for another 10 to 20 minutes. Our layover at Salt Lake was already going to be tight, but the pilot assured us that they would make up time in the air. 


They may have made up time in the air, but it wasn’t enough for us. When we neared Salt Lake, one of the flight attendants tried to help folks with tight connections by announcing said connections and having people raise their hands, something they don’t typically do. Several destinations were announced, but not Boise. No, we had already missed our flight. 

Two of my party got rebooked on a flight later that day to Boise. Two got booked over to San Francisco to spend the night and then get to Boise in the morning. I got rebooked to fly into Seattle the next day and then Boise that afternoon. This was not acceptable. 

After a very long wait in the customer service line, I got onto standby for the same day flight to Boise, as did my fellow travelers who had not been automatically rebooked for it. We ate lunch and then went to stand by and see if there would be any room on the flight for us. I saw my name up on the board as being on standby – a first for me. But my fellow travelers were not on the board and were starting to be resigned to a night in Salt Lake or a return trip to the customer service line. 

But in the end, there was room for all of us. I even got to sit next to one of my party in the row right behind first class with more leg room than I could possibly use. The seat felt like how I remember airplane seats being in my youth, much wider than the economy seats are nowadays. It was tolerable, and I even managed to doze on the flight. 

Even with my toes pointed, I couldn’t touch the seat in front of me.

It was an absolutely draining, incredibly long day. It’s one thing if you’ve got a flight and it just has a lot of layovers or will take a long time. It’s a different thing if you’re running on less than 3 hours sleep and don’t know when or whether you’ll get home. I’m really hoping my next flight has nowhere near this level of insanity – at the very least, I’ll be protesting any attempt to book me on a flight before 6 in the morning… 

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