airplanes on the runway

In the ‘what was I thinking?’ column goes: Jumping at the chance of taking an early flight and cut nearly three hours off my trip.  I just was too exhilarated to read the fine print.

It started when I’d discovered that the event I was attending closed hours earlier than expected. Five hours sitting in the airport to get home after midnight wasn’t all that attractive.

First, I called the airline. They told me that I’d have to pay the FULL PRICE for a standby ticket, if I wanted to leave early. That was easy to decline (unless there were an emergency attached or possibly it became a priority business expense). I’d made my purchase twenty one days before departure at a huge discount. So declining their ‘upgrade’ to standby status for a 300% ticket increase was a no-brainer.

However, I jumped at the chance to leave early when checking in at the airport the next day – for free. It was another occasion of face-to-face beating out over digital or phone. Checking in at the counter does have its risks, dependent on temperament – yours and theirs, the time of day, crowd conditions – even weather conditions may all apply. I hadn’t realized that while leaving early/arriving early, I would be changing planes with two extra stops.

First stop:

Now I’ve visited Birmingham, Alabama – sort of. I had enough time to stretch my legs and find a t-shirt for my son at an airport kiosk. It was the weird next leg of the journey that surprised me.

Second stop:

We flew into New Orleans early on a summer evening. The sky over the infamous Lake Pontchartrain was dramatic. Vertical thunder heads soared to the north and a vibrant stripe of rainbow hovered, detached from its traditional arch. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

Would that I could’ve stepped off the plane for a few hours to at least explore and at least smell the Big Easy air, but we were only able to change seats and stretch before departing again. The darkening sky was stunning as we rose over marshes. A world of storm clouds spread across the horizon with shafts of light spotlighting the neighborhoods below. Up we lifted into the cumulus until the earth was hidden.

It was inspiring and while napping I dreamed of that beautiful light. The flight was long but pleasant and I’m glad I wasn’t thinking when I said yes, and choose taking an early flight.