As I write this, I am girding my loins to participate in one of the most dreaded rituals of the Christmas season: holiday travel.
It remains to be seen where this holiday trip will fall in my personal pantheon of hellish travel experiences. But it would be hard to top 2010.
I had planned a short trip to visit my family in Oregon for Christmas. We had a lovely holiday, and a few days later, I was ready to head back home.
The Snowmageddon happened.
The storm piled up close to two feet of snow in much of the Northeast. States of emergency were declared left and right, airports were closed and, oh yes, travelers were stranded.
I was one such traveler.
The airlines were in such a state of chaos that attempts to confirm my flight were futile. Websites were down and no one answered the customer service lines. But, ever the optimist, I showed up at the airport anyway.
Chaos reigned there too. Some travelers were put onto flights; some were not. I fell into the latter category, for reasons I could not fathom, and was told rather brusquely to go home and “try again tomorrow.”
Three days later, I managed to buy a ticket on a red-eye flight that was to take me through Houston and Cleveland en route to Albany.
I got to the airport on time, only to find that my flight was delayed. Numbly, I wandered through Portland International Airport for a couple of hours, wondering how I would ever get home.
I landed in Houston just as my flight to Cleveland was taking off — without me on it. I joined a herd of angry travelers, bleary-eyed, shouting at anyone who would listen to us.
Somehow I got to Cleveland, only to be put on standby for Albany. Furious and exhausted, I fantasized about renting a car so that I could escape from Airport Purgatory. But through some glorious miracle, I got on the flight.