The Initial RT Post!

wherein Kate has an adventure that will probably be funny in three months or so when she gets over the trauma over the whole thing.

So the trip from Australia to North America is long. I mean, everyone knows that, but it’s very different from knowing to experiencing, and it’s been 7 or so years since I last experienced it.

Guys, it is long.

I went a different route this time, choosing the Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth trip, which is 15 hours, in lieu of Melbourne to LA which is 12. Dallas, I reasoned is closer to New Orleans, so it just made sense.

And here, the horror begins.

We flew in to Dallas in the first few drops of a rain shower. No big deal, right? Well, then the rain shower turned into thunder storms. And the delays began. First my first flight was delayed, then delayed, then delayed, and then moved to a different gate, and then cancelled. I was one of the very few lucky ones that got a standby ticket on one of the remaining flights out of New Orleans. Gate change. The other two flights to New Orleans are cancelled, and now my gate lounge was absolutely packed with everyone wanting to get to New Orleans, and waiting for standby tickets (the list for standby was 100+ by that time).

Moving from lounge to lounge and lining up in multiple lines together can make friends, and by the time we were waiting in the lounge of the final New Orleans flight, I had met up with fellow Aussie conference go-ers Margaret and Marion, Marion’s friend Deb, and an American man named Mark, who was already 1 day late for work after being held up in San Francisco for most of the day.

The flight was pushed back half an hour, than another 10 minutes, then another, and then finally – you guessed it – cancelled. The harried attendants did all they could, but the bottom line was that everything was booked until Friday. We could fly standby, but nothing could be guaranteed.

What’s a stranded RT Conference go-er to do? Why, become a plucky, intrepid RT Conference go-er, of course!

Our merry little band of five decided not to take our chances. There were three people in our group with experience driving on the right-hand side of the road, and that was enough to swap shifts with. We rented a car, and began the long drive from Dallas to New Orleans.

Dallas to New Orleans

We got ourselves a mini-van, some water, not our luggage (more on that later), and headed off.

The drive normally takes about 7 hours, but with the thunderstorms in the area, we had to go very slowly. We left Dallas around 10pm, and headed out. It was bucketing down, and lightening would light up the whole sky about every 15 minutes or so. Eighteen-wheelers didn’t worry so much about the greasy roads and would speed by at 75 mph. Most of us had been travelling already for 20+ hours on very little sleep. In short, the situation was fraught.

We passed the time swapping stories and teaching Mark Aussie-isms, and trying out all the new and interesting junk food we picked up at petrol (oops sorry – gas) stations along the way.

I’m pleased to say that somewhere before Baton Rouge, the storm finally broke, and we drove into New Orleans in the dawning light just after 6am.

Our luggage wouldn’t arrive until midnight that night. That’s a long time to be without fresh underwear.

But we all arrived safely, we made new friends, and we have a story to tell when people ask how our trip was.

Next up: RT preview day, and a bit from New Orleans!

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7 thoughts on “The Initial RT Post!

  1. Eeep! The US air traffic control system is badly out of date and in need of serious upgrades, and US airlines are notorious for overbooking, too. When a line of bad weather hits, delays, cancellations, and backlogs always result. I’m sorry that it happened to you!

    But at least you were in DFW. A drive to NO was reasonable, and you didn’t have to suffer through LAX. (I will go through Korea to avoid LAX. I’d probably drill through the core of the earth to avoid LAX.)

    • Oh I *hear* you about LAX – that’s why I flew through Dallas this time! There was a direct Sydney to Dallas flight, and I thought I would give it a try. Now I’ve got total PTSD about Dallas and will go back to flying through LAX πŸ˜‰

  2. Sounds like the school trip I co-led several years back. Trying to get from storm-affected San Francisco to Seattle with a group of 45 students was certainly fraught. Same thing with delays and finally cancellations. 28 hours later, we flew out on a different airline from a different airport, sans luggage too, after one of our shuttle vans went to a (third and wrong) airport and picked up a speeding ticket trying to get back to us! One small compensation–tired teachers were given first class tickets. Oh, the joys of flying!

  3. We drove from Kamloops to Kelowna once in heavy snow when all flights were cancelled. Logging trucks were speeding by and we were driving on the opposite side for the first time with limited visibility. Fraught with danger but we lived to tell the tale. Glad you all made it safely Kate. πŸ™‚

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