Vernon Volumes text

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Thursday, December 29, 2022

Christmas in Atlanta Airport (Thanks Southwest Airlines!)


We had a Christmas to remember for 2022. We had originally planned a trip to Peru with Adventures by Disney, but unfortunately their president tried to dissolve the government so he could take over. He was arrested and riots have been spreading through Peru, shutting down airports and rail stations. There were tourists trapped at Machu Picchu with no way to get home and shortly before our trip we received a communication from Disney that our trip was canceled. 

We were obviously super disappointed, but decided we'd make the best of it and would go to KC along with the Gobles to celebrate Christmas with family. We decided we'd book a flight for Christmas day and it seemed like it had been a good idea to wait until then because shortly before Christmas there was an intense winter storm that blanketed the country with frigid temperatures and snow. It actually got in to the 20's in Florida for the first time since we've lived here and it was obviously way colder throughout the rest of the US. I'd heard of some travel delays earlier in the week, but I expected that it would all be sorted by the time we got going.

We booked our flight to Kansas City from Jacksonville originally through Nashville. The morning of our flight, we saw that our flight was delayed and that we would not be able to make the connecting flight in Nashville to Kansas City. We booked a different flight to Kansas City through Atlanta instead. Our flight to Atlanta was delayed due to problems with the airplane and we had to leave the original plane to board a different plane, however it did take off and we arrived in Atlanta. The flight from Atlanta was delayed for hours because they couldn't find the flight attendants. The staff for hours to find the originally scheduled flight attendants, however couldn't get in touch with them. They eventually did find enough flight attendants to work on the flight, however they were unable to get through to scheduling to make the staff changes in the system and the flight was eventually canceled. 

I felt particularly bad for the friendly lady working our gate. She had collected snacks and drinks for everyone form the plane and tried to keep up our spirits with Christmas music. It was extremely upsetting for everyone, and we ended up waiting in multiple long lines trying to get our luggage and trying to book another flight. We found out that our luggage was tied up in the system and regardless of what we did, it would be sent on to Kansas City. Eventually we booked another flight to Kansas City, but that flight was delayed and canceled as well. We gave up going to Kansas City at that point and were desperate to get home. 

We tried to get a rental car, but none were available. There were long lines and although we were able to make reservations online, the staff informed us that they weren't honoring same day reservations and there were no cars anywhere. We tried to get a hotel, and considered staying the night, but we were hopeful that we could make it home. We eventually saw a flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville become available in the system and we booked the flight. We had lost all confidence in Southwest at that point, but I was hopeful that the flight would work out as it was clearly a new addition. When the plane arrived at the gate, I talked to one of the crew members and was excited to hear that they were all fresh and that it was indeed a brand new flight that someone had set up. The pilots and plane were ready to go, but I was instantly let down when he told me that they had everything they needed except for flight attendants. That was the problem of the day in Atlanta and sure enough the flight was delayed, delayed again, delayed again, and finally canceled around 11pm.

Southwest was dead to us, so we paid $1800+ for tickets on a Delta flight that left early on the 26th. I'd been in touch with Grandpa Rick and he was willing to be our hero and drive to Atlanta to get us if the Delta flight fell through as well. Thankfully the Delta flight went as scheduled and we were thrilled to get home after over 30 hours of travel. We'd been up at 4am on Christmas day, barely got any sleep in the airport, had walked over 10 miles around the airport, and were all wearing the same clothes the entire time. We all took long hot showers when we got home and took naps to catch up on sleep.

It was a heartbreaking conclusion to our travel adventure and there were tears as we realized that we'd miss out on family time and holiday celebrations with everyone. The Gobles flew out on the 26th and although their flight was delayed multiple times, they managed to make it to Kansas City.

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