Before I tell you this true (non-embellished) story, you need to know we had a great vacation this Spring Break. Nothing in this tale of actual events interrupted our fun. Our vacation was to conclude this past Sunday. We (Jolanta, Katey, Chris, Angie, and Brad) boarded a plane heading back to Houston from Daytona Beach, Florida. The departing flight was a few minutes late due to a crew issue. Once resolved, we were on our way to Atlanta (Delta’s Hub) for a plane change. While we arrived late into Atlanta, our connecting flight’s departure was delayed too. Once on the ground, we checked our flight status at a Service Center to discover we had 25 minutes until the departure of our connecting flight and that we had assigned seats. We raced from “C” Terminal to “D” Terminal only to discover the gate agent had given our seats to standby customers. We were marked as present in the system, but our seats were unbeknownst to us given to someone else. We arrived at Gate D1 to learn we had no flight home; it’s a sinking feeling. Oddly enough, in the midst of all the confusion, a flight attendant (for reasons unknown to us) walked off the plane and job that night. The flight was deplaned and ultimately cancelled due to insufficient crew.
We were then placed on standby for the next flight. Only to discover that flight was cancelled by the FAA due to insufficient equipment. Believe me, I’m not making this stuff up. It happened right before our eyes. We were then placed on standby for a 9:30p departure which later was delayed to 11:30p. There was no room on that flight for our party of five. While our situation was created by a Delta employee’s error, it was complicated by the bad weather. Flights were being cancelled repeatedly due to weather. The terminal was now thick with unhappy and inpatient people. It wasn’t long before we were informed the earliest we would get to Houston via air travel could be Wednesday.
After standing in another long line of dazed, tired, and confused air travelers, I had the opportunity to speak to Service Agent Nicole P. She was a blessing in the midst of the chaos. Jolanta and I were amazed at her composure as she’d dealt with unpleasant cases not unlike our own. We were fortunate as our situation had been created by Delta personnel, therefore they would take responsibility. Being stranded in Atlanta for us was not weather related though it complicated our attempts to depart Atlanta. We worked to try and fly to other destinations such as Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, and New Orleans. Nothing seemed to work. We mentioned the possibility of Shreveport, a five to six hour drive from home. We could fly there and rent a car. As Nicole was searching flights to Shreveport, she discovered a connecting Continental Flight to Houston from there. The rest is history. She rerouted our tickets, arranged for two hotel rooms, meal vouchers, transportation, and an overnight kit for each of us. Remember, our luggage hadn’t been seen since Daytona.
We enjoyed the late night hospitality of the Sheraton Gateway in Atlanta with adjoining rooms. We are so thankful for a comfortable spot to spend the night when our reservation could have been the floor of the airport terminal. After enjoying breakfast the next morning, we set out to arrive at the airport by 7:30a. The real adventure of the morning happened as we worked our way through security at Atlanta. I will never complain about a security line at Bush or Hobby ever again! The line was long, though it moved at a steady clip. Unfortunately, I had to set off the metal detector in the screening area. Consequently, I had to be searched. They placed me in a cage like contraption that scanned my body. Even my hands were wiped with some sort of test strip as if they were searching for residue on my hands. As I said before, I’m not making this stuff up – I was there. All the while as the TSA officials were dealing with me, because of the volume of people standing in line, the agents rushed my family to collect all of our personal belongs including mine. It wasn’t until we were on the tram to Terminal “D” that we realized I was missing my wedding ring. It had been left in the bottom of a grey container as my family was being hurried to collect our personal items. We checked in at the gate. I tried to return to security only to run out of time. As I made my way back to the gate, passengers were boarding our flight to Shreveport. We were all scattered on the plane except for Angie and Chris. They sat together in the very last row of the plane. I gave them a pep talk as they were buckled in for the flight.
We arrived in Shreveport. This airport was small compared to Bush or Hobby. I counted less than a half-dozen gates. There appeared to be more TSA agents and airport personnel than passengers that morning. Typically people come to Shreveport as a final destination on their travel journey. We were actually connecting in Shreveport on our way to Houston. Agents looked so surprised as we walked through security again. We boarded our flight to Houston. This time, we would ride a prop plane to the city. No sooner were we buckled in our seats that Jolanta realized her phone is missing. It’s too late to deplane as the door had already been shut. The flight attendant graciously took the appropriate information to relay to the Captain who in turned relayed it to the airport officials. I thought to myself, I wonder what else will we lose today? We later learned Jo’s phone had been located and would travel to Houston on a later flight. That was a blessing.
We finally arrived at (IAH) Bush Airport. It was good to be in Houston just minutes (figuratively speaking) from Baytown. After a stop at the Delta Ticket Counter for a Military Excuse (a note from the carrier explaining our travel delay to our employers), we stopped by baggage claim to confirm out bags were ahead of us at Houston Hobby. We would then exit to the Transportation Counter to catch a Taxi to the other airport. We’re in luck, the next taxi was a van and perfect for five to travel. As we made our way down 59 to 45, we listened to Reggae (not our choice, but that of our driver.) At this point, I wasn’t about to complain, our vehicle grew closer by the minute. We finally arrived at Hobby, located our bags (under lock and key) and made our way to the car. It felt good to press the clicker and open the back end of the Jeep. It felt even better pulling away from the parking attendant.
About an hour later, we pulled into the driveway. We were home! How good it felt to walk into our house following the previous 24 hours. I share this story with you for a reason. While we were inconvenienced along the way and things happened contrary to our schedule and time frame, we saw God’s hand provide through the craziness of the day. Even in the challenges of life, you can see God’s hand. Don’t get so wrapped up in your circumstances that you miss His moving. Oh, and by the way, remember the lost wedding ring, it was found in Atlanta this afternoon. The ring is on its way to its rightful owner as I post this story. Isn’t He amazing!