A Holiday Jaunt

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.  ~Lao Tzu, ancient Chinese philosopher

Perhaps modern airlines should erect this quote in prominent places throughout airports.

They seem to believe in it, despite what their patrons expect.

Case in point:

Before the holidays, Domer told me one of his friends had managed to snag tickets to the Notre Dame-Clemson football game Dec. 29 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

He was beside himself with excitement.

This was a playoff game, and it had been several years since ND had reached this pinnacle.

Since Domer would be home for the holidays, he booked his flight from St. Louis to save on time and costs.

It was to be a quick trip, leaving Friday for the Saturday afternoon game and returning on Sunday.

I fretted a bit over the possibility of icy roads (it being December and all), but Friday dawned cloudy and on the warm side.

Domer and I loaded his suitcases into my car and drove to the airport, leaving plenty of time for check-in, lunch together, and proper good-byes (since I refused to drop him at the curb and run).

Anyway, while we were eating burgers and fries, he got a text from the airline that his flight had been canceled.


No explanation, no rebooking options, nothing.

And when he tried to access their website, it refused to load.

I checked radar, which indicated everything was clear. He texted his buddy, who said his flight was still on schedule.

What could be wrong?

Trying not to panic, I suggested we were this close so we might as well go to the ticket counter and find out.

The representative told us they’d had wicked weather in Dallas the day before and were doing everything possible to play catch-up.

She said they didn’t have a crew to man Domer’s plane, but they could get him on another plane, leaving around midnight Saturday and returning the next day.

Right, and he’d miss the entire game.

We asked if he could be transferred to another airline.

No dice.

Everything’s full, we were told. It’s the holidays.

Yes, but….

After assurances that Domer’s money would be refunded, we carried his luggage back to the car and drove home.

Disappointed, but realistic.

After all, we know we’re not “good travelers,” based on Lao Tzu’s definition.

We fix our plans and have every intention of arriving on schedule.

People like us probably should drive instead!

P.S. When Domer watched the game on TV and saw the final score (ND lost 30-3), he realized the cancellation wasn’t a disaster after all.

14 thoughts on “A Holiday Jaunt

  1. When I saw the score of the game, I wondered if that was the lump of coal in your proverbial Christmas stocking. Your experience wasn’t a lump of coal, it was a dump-truck of coal. I’m sorry for the frustrations, but if Domer had to miss a game, it sounds like that was the one to miss!

    • “Dump-truck of coal” aptly describes it, Linda. As my dad used to say, “There’s enough pain and misery in this old world to go around for all of us.” At least all this happened during 2018, so the new year’s slate remains pristine! And for Domer at least, not being out all that hard-earned cash more than made up for the frustrations, ha!

    • Ah, John, you are so right! It’s like they didn’t bother to show up, let alone try to win. What gives? This is the team that went 12-0 in the season, and they had a month off to rest and watch tape. No wonder some are calling FOUL for them even being included in the top four (though I think that’s presumptuous, too, considering how the other bowl games turned out — especially Texas beating the tar out of Georgia!)

  2. Ha! At least he didn’t have to watch his team being destroyed! But how annoying they are – I was in the train station way too early one day a couple of weeks ago, and while my train did run, they kept announcing cancellations and delays. It was cold but not snowy so I have no idea what the problem was, and of course they didn’t say. A brief “Sorry for any inconvenience” seems to be as far as they go. Grrr!

    • It’s like trains and buses and planes (which are supposed to be in the service industry) don’t give two hoots about serving the public, huh?? I suppose these were pleasant enough, but providing more information, not less, would seem to be key for smoothing out ruffled emotions. Sorry you, too, had to fight this.

  3. Debbie, I’m so sorry to hear about Domer’s flight being cancelled; especially without any explanation or offering any rebooking options. OMG…I would have been so angry. Over the years, the whole experience of flying has turned into such a hassle. To tell you the truth, unless it’s some kind of emergency or perhaps a trip overseas that I would be dying to take, I’d rather drive or take a train. Half the time, the airlines overbook so there’s the chance that someone could get tossed off the flight.

    God, I miss the good old days when flying was such a “special” experience.

    Anyway, I’m glad at least the final score was such that Domer realized he didn’t miss anything. I’m also glad to hear that he’ll get his money refunded too.

    Have a fabulous weekend, my friend!

    • Ron, I remember flying home from college several times, and it was a pure delight — the employees were pleasant and accommodating, the planes clean and roomy, and the on-time percentages were way up there. Not so these days, I’m afraid.

      Even the representative at the ticket counter said it would be faster to drive!

      Domer handled the disappointment quite well. I think he was relieved at suddenly coming back into all that money (though it will be weeks, if not longer, before he sees it returned). And I know he was glad he didn’t have to sit through a whooping like that — it was bad enough watching it on TV, ha! xo

  4. I am not a frequent flyer and it’s this very kind of thing that gives me such anxiety about flying. It all seems like such a crazy, frantic, uncertain experience. And when things don’t go as planned, it often leaves travelers stranded in airports for extended periods of time. Miserable!

    I’m glad that Domer had some consolation in that he didn’t end up paying to go see such a huge loss.

    • Thanks for empathizing, Tee. I used to love flying, back when it was a special experience, but not any longer. Long lines, cramped seats, unpredictable schedules, and all that just aren’t appealing to me. At least Domer didn’t have to witness his beloved Irish lose in person, too!!

  5. UNBELIEVABLE! What a bummer for Domer – flight getting canceled & the washout game (altho dear family friends who are Clemson grads must be v. happy.) Hope things get better (is ND any good @ spring soccer? lacrosse? track?) 🏈⚽️🏈🏀

    • Bummer is so right, Virginia. We had a two-hour road trip to and from the airport, too. Killed the better part of an entire day. But at least he’ll get his money refunded. As for ND, typically they’re great at women’s basketball (national champs) as well as some other sports. Sad about the football (though they went 12-1 on the season, and that’s pretty awesome!)

  6. How disappointing. Flying used to be so different and now it’s just tedious at best. It’s as though you should be happy they LET you fly. Customer service is a joke. We had our own bad experience regarding a $200.00 service fee to cancel a ticket to Mardi Gras. They will sell that ticket for so much more than we originally paid but still want the service fee. It’s disappointing when mechanical or weather issues cancel a flight with notice but it’s so much more disappointing when it’s a special occasion or event and not being given a heads up before you head to the airport is just poor management. Oh well, as we say in Chicago there is always next year and we can hope for that!

    • Thanks, Kb. I’m sorry you’re having your own issues with the airlines, but you’re so right — when it’s a special occasion, it’s that much worse. Telling Domer he could get to Dallas *after* the game was played is a joke. A poor one. What was he supposed to do in the St. Louis airport for the ten or so hours until that flight anyway? Crazy. And I know he’s capable of “entertaining” himself with a book or his gadgets, but what mom is going to just drop a young adult off in a strange place and let him fend for himself???

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