Melissa Steffan and the Prisoner of Ice-kaban (aka Sea-Tac)

You know how the news always shows those sad-looking people stranded at the airport during snowstorms, desperately trying to get re-booked on a flight that’s actually flying, and you think to yourself (haughtily), “Man, I would hate to be one of those people”?

I was one of THOSE people yesterday.

It was bound to happen. As my dad drove me to the airport at 6:15 a.m., the radio reported that no flights were leaving Sea-Tac Airport. And I quote: “If you can avoid traveling at all today, do so. It is not advised to travel.” End quote. Begin madness.

I had no problem checking my bad and getting through security, and I happily waited at my gate, knowing my flight, Flight 4, was only delayed by 20 minutes. However, they then announced that Flight 4 would be canceled, so would we please stand in line to be re-accomodated on a later flight, Flight 2, leaving in the afternoon. As soon as we all got in line, they announced that Flight 4 would, in fact, be reinstated as soon as they could get a de-icing crew. So we waited.

Around 11:30, they announced that Flight 4 was being canceled again. We repeated the re-accomodation process, and we were told that, in order for our bags to make it onto the new flight, we had to go pick them up from baggage claim, leaving the secure area. In baggage claim, though, we waited for an hour before a customer service rep told us to just go to our gate; if we didn’t pick up our bag when it came, it would be automatically pushed onto the next flight to D.C., Flight 2. Perfect. Then back through security, back to a new gate, back to waiting.

Throughout all the chaos, a few other passengers and I started referring to ourselves as “airport family,” because we kept running into each other at each different location. It was nice to form camaraderie with people, and we all had pretty good attitudes, in spite of everything. I felt very calm and at peace with everything, which I attribute to lots of prayer for God to do his work.

Flight 2 was supposed to leave at 2:05 Pacific Time, arriving in D.C. at 10:00 Eastern Time. That was fine. But then Flight 2 got delayed, due to a long wait for a de-icing crew. When we finally boarded, it was 3:00 p.m. and I was losing my mind. After boarding, they had to de-ice the plane again before we finally took off at 5:00 p.m….approximately 8 hours after my original flight should have left.

Side note: I sat next to two college-age guys who were pretty entertaining. At one point, one of them asked the other, What’s your favorite movie? “‘Snow’ Place for Old Men”? “Prisoner of ‘Ice’-kaban”?

You make your own fun, I guess.

Anyway, I arrived in D.C. at 12:30 a.m.

Did you catch all that? Here’s a summary: Flight 4 — on-time! Delayed. Cancelled. Reinstated. Delayed. Cancelled. Re-accomodated. Baggage claim – no bag. Security. Flight 2 — on-time. Delayed. De-iced. Delayed. Delayed. Boarded!!!!! Delayed. De-iced. DEPARTED. 

The fun doesn’t end there, though. When I got to baggage claim at Reagan National Airport, they said that bags from Flight 4 didn’t make it on to Flight 2 (I do not know WHAT IN THE WORLD the luggage people were doing…they had HOURS, after all, to transfer it, what with very few flights leaving the airport). I had to file a claim for lost luggage, arriving at the Dellenback Center (my apartment) at 1:30 a.m. with only my backpack and carry-on.

But this story has a happy ending. I am BACK in D.C. and I am so glad to be here. It’s been so good to see all of the people I know here, and I have a really good attitude about my lost bag. I’m just glad that I was able to get here yesterday, no matter how stressful, because they cancelled more flights today. Basically, if I had opted to take the Friday morning flight instead of wait for the one I did take, I still wouldn’t be here. God got me here safely, so I know that is the biggest blessing of all. I’m hoping my luggage arrives soon, as I’d like to have my underwear and socks (luckily I packed a couple pairs in my carry-on), but I am just happy to be back in this great city.

I am so excited for a new semester and new friends. I will write more tomorrow about American Studies Program so far. In the meantime, I’m off to gather my groceries!


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