The alarm went off at 3am that morning. It was time to get up so I can make my 5:25am flight from Manchester, NH. It was the beginning of the “visit friends and family before I leave the country” part of my journey.

Everything was going so smoothly. My friend Louie was extremely kind to roll out of bed and drive me to the airport. I checked my bags, opted out of the naked body cancer scanner in favor of TSA molestation (what beautiful choices the government allows us to have!), and waited at the gate for my Southwest flight. Then, two minutes before boarding, a text message alert came in from the airline – my connecting flight from Baltimore to Buffalo was cancelled.

I was supposed to surprise my niece and nephew at the airport – now, the surprise is on me. They were arriving from Florida with my brother and sister-in-law. As it turned out, their flight from a different airline and city got delayed by an hour because it was missing a very key element in air travel – a pilot.

The best option for me was to book a 7am flight for the next day and fly standby for a 5pm flight the same day, which got delayed to 5:35pm and was oversold by three people. Besides the delay to see my family, all I could think of was, “there is no possible way the airline won’t lose my checked luggage!”
They gave me $200 toward my next flight and a voucher for $10 towards any meal in the airport, which I promptly used towards breakfast and a 22 ounce beer… at 8am! Hey, don’t judge me! 🙂

The massive layover also gave me time to write a long thank you post on my personal Facebook page to a massive list of friends who’ve helped me so far. I also wrote my first and second blogs (this is the second one), relaxed a bit, and caught up on some random stuff.

It wasn’t long before I became very busy deflecting worrisome texts from my family, who were wondering if I was going to “win the standby lottery” and be on that 5pm flight. I did my best to tell (very bad) jokes to settle their nerves.

Dad: “Any news?”

Me: “I drank all the beer in the airport. All of it.”

[An hour later]

Mom: “Any news yet?”

Me: “Good news: they delivered more beer so now I can drink more! Woo!

[Two hours later]

Dad: “When will you know [if they’ll let you on the flight?]”

Me: “I thought you were emailing Hillary [Clinton] about getting me on the flight?”

Mom: “So does this mean you’re not getting on this one?”

I responded to this last question by creating a meme of baby Elmo from Sesame Street sitting on a toilet with the words “You’re like worried and I’m like…”, then texting it to my parents. My message was clear: chill guys, chill.

I kept that relaxed attitude and went to the customer service desk around 5:15pm along with about 12 other passengers. I thought, “there’s no way we’re all gonna get on this plane. Somebody’s going to be sleeping in the airport or scrambling for a hotel tonight.”

An employee walked from the gate to the customer service counter and said to her co-worker, “I’m going to check to see how many seats we have available. Start getting your names together,” then she walked away.

My fellow standby passengers and I stared at each other with nervous anticipation and wondered who among us was going to be left out.

The employee came back over to the customer service desk with what we all expected to be bad news.

“OK, give me 15 names.”

“15?!”, replied her co-worker.

“Ya, 15! Hurry, we’re already running late!”

“CA-CHING!”, I exclaimed loudly, as my fellow overjoyed standby passengers and I reacted to the great news. We all got on the flight and headed to Buffalo to our friends, families, and businesses.

It wasn’t the start to my travels that I’d expected, but I was glad that I experienced the first rule of traveling on my first day of traveling: things will not always go as planned. Remain calm and adapt or fall behind. Traveling will not always be perfect all of the time.

Let’s travel! 🙂

P.S. I met my luggage at the baggage claim, safe and sound!

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