Freezing rain! Ice all over the roads!
Five hours from Mountain Home to Saint Louis in good conditions - how much should we leave ourselves for bad weather? Eight was the best we could do without spending the night there. Two hours minimal check-in time not included of course.
And then the storm got delayed. Five easy hours on the road with coffee stop, Walmart for a last-minute purchase, lunch, another Walmart, check in the folks at their hotel. Easy peasy.
Airport. It takes me an hour to get through a ticketing problem (all my fault. I will have all the right documents in the future), and we have time for a glass before I say farewell and go through security.
Flight on time.
Flight, mmm, can still be on time if we check most of those roller-carryons: No room for all of them on a full flight, and we know how people fight for overhead bin space. C'mon, give them up.
And we might make it out before the storm, which is coming eventually, if we passengers are all organized and disciplined. Board by row and all that. Sure.
Only, the people aren't off our arriving aircraft yet. They're not in any hurry: they have arrived.
Finally they are off, but now the crew wants a slight technical problem checked out.
So they call the maintenance guys, who come out from their shed.
Just a couple of screws missing. Nothing serious, we'll just wait for the maintenance guys to go fetch some from their shed.
They do let us start boarding while they're still working on it, but it's still too late to beat the freezing rain, which has finally started. Great. That means a round of de-icing.
At last all settled and the last roller-case in the overhead bin, we stroll over to the de-icing pad. 45 minutes late. After some time with the lights and ventilation off, a man stumbles to the back of the plane, moaning of stomach pains. Doctors are called for. The man is Nigerian, in pain, half fainting, half vomiting. We cut short the de-icing and head back to the gate for the paramedics to take him off. By the time we get there, he's a bit better, walking up the aisle on his own, but they will not let him stay.
Connections in Atlanta are being missed, and the freezing rain is here, and the sick man was from Nigeria. We are notified that if anyone wants to get off the plane, they're welcome to. You can't have your checked luggage or a refund, but you can give up on Atlanta, and a dozen people do, delaying us further.
I thought it was a rule if you weren't on the plane your luggage couldn't be either. Maybe that's only international flights.
At any rate, they have to let people off. Some of the people seated near the sick man have got it into their heads that he might have Ebola, and they want nothing to do with that. They either get off the plane, or find seats far from the 'contaminated' one. Nonsense. The man had not been out of the US in years (the pilot later came to tell us in person), and did not have symptoms corresponding to ebola. He was no more likely to be infected than any random person off the street.
Happily, the rain has stopped, and we are allowed to complete our de-icing without repeating the whole procedure, just the parts not yet done.
Departure, 1 hour 45 minutes late.
Once airborne at last, those of us with hope still for our connections are allowed to move up the cabin to now-unoccupied seats. Good thing, since I am in the very last row and fighting my way through the crowd would be a lost cause. Hey, a seat is open in the very first economy row. Such luck! Perhaps it is the sick man's seat.
Landing at 10:25, boarding has already started for my flight to Paris.
At some terminal far, far away.
Why is the Planetrain so slow?
There it is, terminal F...
And my gate, with a rapidly diminishing line of people in front of it.
Hop! I am on my way to Paris.