Travel day

When I bought my WisCon plane tickets, I knew that the connection in Denver was a tight one, and I knew that flights are often delayed this time of year, but I figured that if I missed my connection, I'd just get on the next flight out of Denver to Madison. And if all went well, I would make the connection, and I'd get to Madison around 6 p.m., in plenty of time for dinner and hanging out.

This morning, around the time I finished packing, I got a series of text messages from United telling me that my flight from San José had been delayed. I called to check on the connection, and was told that the best they could do would be to get me to Madison sometime tomorrow; they said that all flights were full and most were delayed due to weather and mechanical failures.

I asked about a flight from San Francisco instead of San José. They said that would work—but it would mean getting to SFO within an hour, and I didn't have a way to do that. So they said there was another flight out of SFO at 1:45 p.m. that would get me in to Madison around 10:30 p.m., via Chicago.

I have more or less sworn never to fly to Madison via Chicago this time of year; the likelihood of the flight being cancelled or delayed by many hours is very high. But I figured this was my best option, so I took it.

Finished packing; did about an hour of day-job work I had meant to finish yesterday; ran most of the way to the train station. But everything worked out fine. The train was slow and didn't get me to the BART connection in time, so I took a cab to SFO. Given the time of year and the aforementioned delays, I figured SFO would be packed, but in fact there was almost no line to check in, and not a very long security line. Everything went smoothly.

My favorite SFO sandwich shop (Klein's Deli) wasn't there (the area where it is was closed off by the airport, and I don't know if it was temporarily relocated elsewhere), but I got a sandwich somewhere else, and I got a seat on the plane.

The seat turned out to be in a bulkhead row, which was annoying; I like having easy access to my backpack during flights. And it wasn't at the end of a row. But on the plus side, the bulkhead gave me lots of room to stretch out my legs, and that and the height of the plane made the semi-middle seat feel less claustrophobic than usual.

The plane was a 777; I must've been on one before, but this one felt huge. Twice the width of the big planes I usually fly on, and a high ceiling.

Slept for most of the flight to Chicago; also read some.

Was supposed to have a two-hour layover in Chicago. We arrived 20 minutes early (!); I made my way to the other terminal where my Madison flight was, had some dinner, and did computer stuff. At some point they told us the flight to MSN was delayed, and then it was delayed again, and then it was slightly undelayed. In the end, I arrived at MSN around 11:30 p.m. local time. Too late for a hotel shuttle, so I took a cab; the cabbie told me that he used to be a journalist in London, and that he had CIA connections, and that his wife wants him to write a spy novel, and that he doesn't read much science fiction (though he liked Vonnegut 40 years ago) but reads a lot of mysteries. A pleasant conversation.

As I noted in Twitter, there were a lot of roadblocks and changes of plan today, but each time, everything seemed to go about as well as it could have given the problems. So I ended up largely fairly cheerful about the whole thing, though disappointed to have missed seeing people this evening.

And now I'm ensconced at the Concourse. I'm looking forward to the weekend, though also sad that so many of the people I was hoping to see here won't be here.

Think I'll do a bit more reading and editing, then sleep.

Itinerary for the next week-plus: Weekend in Madison; a few days in Chicago; then to Swarthmore for Alumni Weekend. Home on Sunday the 5th.

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