If it's all about the journey than this one stinks...
Philadelphia Travel Blog› entry 2 of 5 › view all entries
At this point the airport was in a sort of hushed anticipation. Everyone there hoping that their flights would get out before the storm really hit full force. My brother and I had some time to kill, so we grabbed lunch before heading over to our gate to wait for our flight around 1 PM. We sat at the gate and watched a few flights get out while crews outside struggled to keep up with the snow quickly increasly intensity. Plows were operating on the runways working to get as many planes out as possible. Shortly before we should have begun boarding the gate agents announced our flight would be delayed by about an hour. As 1:30 approached and we should have begun boarding again, nothing happened. 1:30, 1:45, 1:50, 1:55 and finally just before 2:00 PM, an announcement over the loudspeaker system for the entire airport. Something along the lines of:
"For the immediate future, the airport runways are closed for takeoffs. We will update airport conditions in one hour."
Our gate agent announced that this did not mean that the flight was cancelled yet and to remain in the gate area. I wondered otherwise. My brother called our parents and asked them to check on the weather conditions. No surprise that a solid blanket of white covered the radar. I pulled out phone numbers for local hotels and began calling looking for a place to spend the night. Unfortunately it was NFL Conference Championship weekend and the Philadelphia Eagles were hosting the NFC game and I couldn't find a room anywhere as I tried number after number. Eventually I gave up. 3:00 PM came and went and the update was that the runways were still closed. They still had not officially cancelled the flight but I knew we weren't going anywhere.
My brother waited at the gate area and I went to find one of the banks of telephones to talk to a US Airways ticket agent. After waiting in line and then waiting on hold for what seemed like forever I finally reached a live person. Initially they repeated the line that the flight was not cancelled, but I continually pressed to be rebooked for a flight on Sunday morning. Finally they agreed and rebooked my brother and I onto a 6:30 AM flight Sunday morning. OK, that will give us most of Sunday and all day Monday, I told myself. Went back to the gate (by this time it was after 5:00 PM, it took almost two hours for me waiting to talk to someone). As I got back to the gate area the crowd was starting to disperse. The airport had just announced that all flights were cancelled for the remainder of the evening. Thankfully I was finished with our rebooking.
With that done tried a few more hotels in the area. Couldn't find anything and at this point there was about a foot of snow outside already, so I wasn't sure how we'd get to one anyway even if something was available. With that we headed back to the bar where we had lunch. Thanfully we were able to find spots to sit at the bar... we ended up spending the next 6 hours and running up a tab of over $120 between the two of us (some food included). The bar was packed as people told tales of where they were trying to get to and how close they made it too getting out. One couple sitting next to us heading to Vail were on their plane, second in line for takeoff, when the planes were called back to the gate. Luckily they were able to deboard as opposed to sitting on the runway for hours on end like has happened in recent weeks here in the states (as of 2/25/07). Bar was going to stay open over night as there was no real way for the employees to leave and they were going to get paid some good overtime for sticking around. But around 11:30 or so we left to find a place to try to grab a bit of sleep (and save the wallet).
Airport was passing out little mini pillow and space blankets (those aluminum foil blankets). Headed over to concourse D in the airport to avoid some of the crowds (concourses B&C were the major US Airways terminals for their Philly hub so a lot of the people connecting were there; councourse D was for some of the other airlines for which Philly is simply a terminating point, so I figured there would likely be fewer people there). It wasn't easy and it wasn't exactly restful but I did manage to get just a bit of sleep.