My trip home yesterday was under the auspices of the Fairy Godmother Department (see Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road).
Originally, my meeting was supposed to end about 1:30pm, so I’d booked a 3:15pm flight out of Atlanta Airport to Dallas, which would get me home about 10:30pm Eastern. But then they revised the agenda so that we’d finish at 11am, leaving me a long wait for my flight.
A friend was planning to leave on the 1:30pm flight so she could get home to Austin at a decent hour, so we left the meeting promptly at 11 (slightly before the last speaker finished, but such is life), and were at the American Airlines counter at 11:30. I asked if there was room on the 1:30. The agent asked me if I wouldn’t rather take the noon flight(!), but I didn’t know how far the gate was or how long it would take to get through security (on the bus from the hotel, we’d heard horror stories of 90-minute lines that very day), so I said “no,” and she put me on the 1:30 with a reasonable connection in Dallas, and I went to get in line.
The line was the longest one I’d been in on this trip — about ten people. I was clever this time and put my metal-tipped belt in my suitcase instead of wearing it, but it didn’t help me; I was selected for a random scan and had to be wanded and patted down anyway. Despite that delay, I was past the checkpoint at 11:45 — and the gate for the noon flight was only a couple of hundred feet away. So we zipped down there and got onto the noon flight.
En route, I used a secret trick and called American Airlines Reservations for free on the Airphone (hint: dial *044) to see if I could get an even earlier flight home from Dallas. There was one available, but I’d have to wait till I was Dallas to see if there would be room.
In Dallas, I walked over to the Terminal B Admiral’s Club (the longest walk I’d taken in three days — I needed it!) to see if the earlier flight had room. It did — and I was even able to upgrade to First Class, where I was delighted to find that warm nuts were still served on this flight, but I was not so happy to find that the people in front of me were determined to get their money’s worth of the liquor being poured. But eventually they got quiet.
I’d called my regular taxi driver while I was in Dallas, and he was waiting for me; I got home before Diane and Jeffrey did. While I was waiting for them, the driver called me back to tell me my luck was still holding — we’d had a fast trip down from the airport, but now there had been a wreck, and traffic on 880 South from the airport was snarled up badly. But I’d missed all of that.
All in all, a much better trip home than I’d expected. And getting home four hours early made it even better.