As I was waiting in Hartford for my flight to Philadelphia, my plane was stuck in Philly because of weather. I was never going to make my connection so Elizabeth from USAir helped me out.

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She asked me to describe my checked luggage so that it could be rerouted to Charlotte (me too, by the way), where I would be able to connect to Portland. “It’s a big, grey box” I said as I held my arms out, “and it’s really important that it gets to Portland.” She noticed that I had a one-way ticket and eventually we were talking about the bicycle trip. Elizabeth’s husband, John, works at USAir also and she introduced him. He implored me to ride safely and use front and rear lights at all times, even during the day. “You do have bright clothing, don’t you?”, they asked.
Apparently they didn’t think my cycling jerseys would be noticeable. A few minutes later Elizabeth found me and gave me an obnoxiously bright orange vest. It was the type of vest worn by airport runway workers so that they don’t get run over by an airplane (or luggage vehicles, fuel trucks, and the like). “John wants you to wear this” she told me, so I promptly put it on.

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The pilot for the Charlotte flight told us that the delays in Philly were causing problems to ripple along the east coast as planes were rerouted and travelers tried to rearrange their plans. He told us that our normal 1 1/2 hour flight would be a little over two hours because we would have to fly over the ocean to avoid congestion. Fifty miles off the coast of NYC we began a slow circle. The pilot was as puzzled as we were. He announced our location and said we were circling because we were in a “holding pattern”, ordered by traffic controllers, and he had no clue why. So we circled, out over the ocean, like a seagull waiting for a fishing boat to clean the decks.
Whatever it was, it must have worked because we eventually made it to Charlotte. With just a few minutes to make my connection, I was the last one to walk on the crowded plane. They shut the doors behind me. My seat was in the very last row and everyone gave me dirty looks as I performed the “perp” walk down the narrow aisle. I was certain there was no way my bike was going to make it. I took my seat, back by the bathrooms, looked at my fellow travelers, and exclaimed the famous line by Bob Ueker, “Must be in the front row!”