If you haven’t heard, there’s this thing called travel magic. Travel magic was a term I learned from Husband, and in his words it’s “the art of having perfect crazy things happen when you’re traveling.”
I’ve experienced travel magic before when I went with Husband to Seattle on our 1 year anniversary (dating). I got to cross an item off my bucket list by eating at Sky City (the restaurant at the Space Needle) and I got to see a Dalek from Doctor Who (those who know me know I am obsessed with Daleks and Doctor Who). It was the best trip ever.
I thought that I had nothing to do with the travel magic because I am the most unlucky person I know. Yet, my most recent travel experience makes me think that I may have a sort of rare travel magic that is conditioned upon my bad luck.
Let me tell you the story.
I traveled with my mom to New York recently and we were set to fly out on Friday. It was the day before a huge storm was supposed to hit and the day after a huge storm had already hit. Basically, we had a small window where we could travel back home to Oregon and we were ready to go back. My mother had gotten an email stating that Chicago O’ Hare, the airport where our connecting flight was, was experiencing canceled flights and delays so if we wanted to change our flight we could at no extra charge.
My mom spent a good hour on the phone with American Airlines trying to get our flight changed but they couldn’t. We tried to get out that night but we were stuck with our flight in the evening the next day. We were nervous as we went to bed but eager for the next day to get home (hopefully).
We made sure to arrive at the airport early in case we could get a flight out earlier. You see, if everything went according to plan, which if you’re traveling in winter they never will, we would have 20 minutes to get to our plane before they left the gate. The next available flight to Oregon was the next day. We didn’t want to spend the night at the airport, let alone in Chicago. If we could at least get to Chicago early, we would be sure to make it back home in time.
But, because it was winter and the weather was starting to get bad, of course our first flight was delayed. I frantically watched as the flight was delayed until it was certain that we would miss our flight. For some reason, the first flight was delayed that was coming from North Carolina, that had no bad weather, but the flight in Chicago was fine. Go figure. But, as I kept refreshing the page, I learned that our connecting flight was also delayed. Unfortunately, we would land in Chicago at 9:00pm and our connecting flight would take off at 8:55pm.
Maybe the flight would be delayed further because of deicing the plane? We hoped to ourself as we continually checked to see the status of our flight. We finally boarded our first flight and desperately checked once more to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t.
We landed in Chicago and, because we were on a puddle jumper, we were able to deplane pretty quickly. My mom brought a larger carry-on item so we had to wait for the suitcase to get off the plane before we could leave the gate. I had figured at this point that our plane had left considering we were late getting to the gate. Then I received a text from Husband – the plane hadn’t departed yet.
I ran through the terminal in hopes that I would get to the gate in time. Husband kept refreshing the page to check the status while I weaved my way through the airport crowd. My mom, who can’t run very well, was left in the dust. I passed a bunch of cots set up for stranded travelers and prayed that we wouldn’t be sleeping on them that night. I cursed under my breath at the fact that our gates were the farthest apart from each other as I struggled to run down the terminal.
I was almost there. I could see the gate number growing nearer. I was chanting a mantra to myself saying that we were going to make it! I was getting excited! But, as I neared the gate I realized that the plane that was at the gate was pulling away. I watched our plane pull away from the gate. I was distraught. I told Husband that we had missed the plane and hung up to go to the ticket gate and get new tickets for the next flight (which wasn’t for another 8 hours).
My mom had found an attendant at the airport with a wheelchair so she was being wheeled through the airport. She came to the gate a little behind me and was just as distraught as I was. It was around 10:00pm at that time and all the stands were closing so we rushed to grab some food. The only thing open was a McDonald’s so I grabbed a couple burgers and an iced tea and made myself comfortable. We were going to make our way back to the cots, but they were so far away that we decided to sleep on the chairs near our new gate. I called Husband to tell him that we weren’t coming home until the next afternoon. While I was talking to Husband, I couldn’t help but notice a plane at our old gate. I couldn’t shake this feeling that that was our plane so my mom had convinced me to go check with the gate desk to see what was going on.
I don’t like talking to strangers, but I made my way over to the gate and asked “Is this the plane to Portland?” The gate worker smiled at me and said “Yes! This is the plane to Portland!” I was shocked! I quickly asked if it was still possible to get on the plane. He took my name and my mom’s name and confirmed that we could get on the plane! It was still possible! I motioned to my mom, I felt like I was bouncing, and ran back to get my stuff. Unfortunately, my favorite sweater was lost in the hustle (although Santa brought it for me on Christmas), and we boarded the plane!
It turned out that the plane had to come back for mechanical problems! We were sitting there for a while and we were afraid that this plane wasn’t going to be leaving Chicago. The captain came on the intercom and said that we were waiting to hear from American Airlines but we would either get a new plane or the flight would be cancelled. At this point, I was exhausted and just wanted to be home. I felt like if the flight got cancelled, I would just be in the same position I was in a few minutes earlier so it wouldn’t be a problem, though I hoped that a new plane would be found. I calmed myself by telling myself that they wouldn’t leave a plane full of passengers stranded. And they didn’t.
Turns out they found another plane and my mom and I excitedly rushed to the new gate where they had sandwiches and water waiting for us. We had to get new tickets because the other ticket takers took ours, and, after having a scare because I couldn’t find my ID to get a new one, found it and got our new tickets to finally go home. 4 hours after our original takeoff time, we were finally in the air on our way home.
That whole experience was full of ups and downs but, I still stand by what I said about having the most bad luck travel magic. If things go bad, I know that they will get better when I travel. From now on though, I may take Husband with me just to cover all my bases.
Do you have travel magic? What has travel magic done for you?