Monday, December 22, 2008

Stranded in Seattle...

This about says it all... We were one of the MANY that had plans cancelled, stood in the longest line I've ever seen (probably a mile long at least) and spent hours and hours on my cell phone trying to get things rebooked. We have now made it to Los Angeles, but EVERY flight to Hawaii is booked. Just getting to LA on our rebooked flight due to Saturday's cancellation was interesting. Our flight was supposed to leave at 9am, and 7 hours later finally did take off. We were very lucky - as most all the flights Sunday were cancelled. We were the last plane they de-iced, as they were OUT OF DE-ICER! Can you imagine?

The first available flight to Hawaii is on Xmas Eve, so we are still going. Instead of 2 islands, we will do one; instead of 8 nights, we will do 5. We will still see the sunshine, and see some of Hawaii. I've done a lot of traveling, and have never experienced anything like this. Wow!

Here is an article about the fun conditions of good old SEA TAC
Karen Ducey / P-I

Hundreds of tired travelers lined up at ticket gates Sunday at Sea-Tac Airport hoping to find flights and leave the airport, where many had been stranded for more than a day.

Crosswinds at the airport led to the cancellation or delay of dozens of flights Saturday night and Sunday morning, leaving thousands of people with nowhere to go.

The cancellations hit Alaska Airlines particularly hard, and may continue into Monday. Alaska and Horizon Air canceled all flights at Seattle-Tacoma International and Portland International airports as of 2:45 p.m., in part because of a lack of de-icing fluid. Passengers with local residences were told to go home for the evening, and others were told to make their own hotel arrangements.

A port spokesman said the airlines are responsible for keeping their own planes de-iced, which is why some planes were still making it out of the airport on Sunday. Two runways remained open.

"It's kind of a perfect storm," port spokesman Perry Cooper said. "I've had people here for 20 years and they have never seen anything like this."

While a lack of de-icing fluid made the situation worse, Horizon spokeswoman Jen Boyer said the stretch of bad weather had exhausted the airlines' crews and equipment during the holiday rush.

"We've just been playing catch-up with the weather. ... We're running out of fresh crews and running into maintenance deadlines for the aircraft," Boyer said. "We still have three days to get everyone home for Christmas, and we're trying to get everyone there."

Passengers booked on a canceled flight may rebook on the next available flight without penalty or apply for a full refund of the unused portion of their ticket.

Akiko Onuma, a 21-year-old Scripps College student from California, flew into Sea-Tac on Saturday night from Ontario, Calif. She had a 9 p.m. Saturday connection to Lewiston, Idaho, on Horizon that was canceled.

"There were hordes of people -- literally hundreds of people -- trying to figure out what to do," Onuma said.

By the time Onuma got her bag at midnight Saturday, all the hotels were booked, she said, so she spent the night at the airport.

Onuma is now hoping to get out Monday morning on a flight to Walla Walla.

Terry Haybert of Tacoma was at the airport with his wife and 5-year-old daughter. He had a 1 p.m. flight to Portland on Sunday, which was canceled.

"This was the biggest mistake ever. We should've just driven," Haybert said of his holiday plans.

Joseph Gudall from Blairstown, N.J., flew from Newark to Seattle, hoping to get to Fairbanks, Alaska, on a 9 p.m. Saturday flight. The departure time kept getting pushed back until the flight was canceled at 1 a.m. Sunday, he said.

"It was a sheer disaster," Gudall said. "I never thought this could happen."

Gudall was booked on a 9 p.m. Sunday flight to Fairbanks. He was heading to Alaska to visit his daughter.

Alaska Airlines spokesman Paul McElroy said cancellations may continue into Monday if the weather doesn't improve.

"Since we're dealing with Mother Nature, it's really uncertain," he said. "We're hopeful that we can resume our schedule Monday, but we'll have to see."

On Sunday afternoon, airport staff handed out blankets and pillows to travelers, who were sprawled out over any available space.

Passengers should contact their carriers for flight status before heading to the airport, spokeswoman Terri-Ann Betancourt said.

Passengers whose flights are scheduled to leave Monday should allow extra time to get to the airport and they should expect long lines once they arrive.

People whose flights are canceled should rebook from home, Betancourt said.

Cooper said heavy winds had died down by early Sunday. But poor weather at airports in the Northwest and around the country remained a problem, he said.

"It's that systemwide domino effect," he said.

While airport restaurants and stores did not receive their deliveries Saturday, trucks were able to drop off goods on Sunday morning, Betancourt said.

"We should be OK with concessions," she said

Monday, December 15, 2008

Hawaii Here We Come!

Well, this is the week to get ready for our trip. I really only have 2 nights to get ready - Thursday and Friday. The rest of the nights I have late meetings this week (wouldn't you know). Wish me luck. It will come together, it always does!

So, off to the land of warmth, sunshine, and tropical showers.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weekend in Chicago!

Well, we had a great weekend in the windy city... The weekend served 2 purposes; first was for me to see the cardiologist for a check up (clean bill of health); and the second was to enjoy Larry's birthday.

We got there on Saturday afternoon to light snow and high 20's. Weather was comfortable, and we headed out to walk Michigan Avenue - the Magnificent Mile. Oh my - how extremely busy was that street and every store on it. Wow! I compare the crowds to that at Disneyland in December after a parade. Can you picture it?

Saturday night we went to a jazz club - very fun experience. We heard a sax player named Frank Catalano. He was awesome! Yes, we bought a CD.

Sunday was shopping day. The weather had cooled... it was 6-8 degrees and windy. Brrr! The crowds of Saturday were gone, and it actually was the perfect day to shop. The cold weather kept most people indoors. However, if you were dressed for the weather, you were fine. We did our share of ducking in and out of stores and were fine.

Sunday night we went to one of our favorite hang outs - Banderas. Such yummy food - and they have an appetizer called Queso Appetizer that is to die for.

Monday was the appointment, then it was a lingering lunch at the Melting Pot; a little more shopping and then off to the airport. A whirlwind trip in a whirlwind of a city!

So, one quick trip and lots of fun!