This morning I am supposed to be curled up in a plush, king size bed in the Paris Las Vegas, potentially nursing a slight hangover from too many jello shots and strawberry daiquiris after a fun night on the Strip. Instead, like every other day, today I woke up in my regular queen size bed in Denver with my, not as plush, Ikea down comforter.
Since it is Thanksgiving I will start with what I am thankful for and then I will catch you up on the last 24 hours. I am thankful that the engine of my plane to Las Vegas shot flames out of it on the runway instead of in the air.
Yesterday morning started like every other morning. Up at 6am to give Paterno Dog his epilepsy medicine. Once the dogs had been fed and Paterno Dog medicated I jumped in the shower and got dressed and turned on the local news before waking up my better half. 9News was a bundle of great news including: information that the trains at the airport were down (yes, the trains that take you from security to your terminal and are the only way to get to your plane); the train to the airport was also down (but that is old news for Denverites so no one actually uses the A Line to get the airport if they actually have to get there at a specific time); and to top it off I-70 was at a standstill from I-25 to the airport (just a short 15 mile stretch) because of an accident on a connecting interstate had traffic being rerouted. The last tidbit of information provided by 9News was that the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day for Denver International Airport (Yippee).
Based on all this information our 9am departure soon became an 8am departure and I had to do the unpleasant job of kicking my better half out of bed and forcing him to shower and pack in about 10 minutes so we could get on the road so we could sit in traffic.
First stop was to drop the pups at Camp Bow Wow. This usually simple task became more complicated with the roads around Camp Bow being closed and having to follow several detours to get to their parking lot. I love the feeling of watching precious minutes tick by and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Upon checking the pups in we overheard someone mention that Coaly Dog needed to be in a “special” kennel. Turns out last time she was there she climbed out of her kennel…twice. Now she needs a kennel with a top so she can’t escape. We are a little surprised by this news because no one mentioned it to us when we picked her up last time. We think all is good and then we see them putting a sign on the kennel with a warning because she can unclip the hook they use to close the kennel and can let herself and Paterno Dog out of the kennel to roam the kennel and harass the other dogs stuck in their kennels. While this information was slightly disturbing, Camp Bow Wow seemed to have it completely under control and we were running late to continue our journey to the airport so we left them in their capable hands and headed out.
Back on the road we headed towards the airport. There was a little stop and go traffic when we got back on the interstate but luckily it opened up pretty quickly and we were flying down the highway towards the airport. Once getting to the airport we headed to the long-term parking (how naïve we were that we needed long-term parking). The usual long-term lot, Pikes Peak, was full so we were directed to the long-term lot, way in the middle of nowhere, Mount Elbert. After getting our parking ticket, finding our parking spot, taking pictures of where we parked the car, we were on the shuttle headed towards the airport.
Once in the airport, we had a little less than two hours before our flight was scheduled to leave. We headed to the Spirit Airlines counter and quickly checked our bag and headed to the security line. If you have ever flown through DIA you know that our security lines are amazingly fast. I have lived in Colorado over 14 years and I am always amazed every time I fly through DIA how quick and easy security is…until yesterday. As we headed towards security I saw the longest line I had ever seen. The wait time was at approximately 38 minutes and I have never waited over 10 minutes. Turns out we couldn’t even see the end of the security line. Once we reached what would usually the end of the security line we were directed to the end of the actual line which was snaking into the baggage area. Most people were waiting patiently and DIA even had snacks available for the waiting travelers and gave us all a piece of delicious Hammond’s Candies. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the line started speeding up and we were almost sprinting through the line. No one really knew was what going on but no one was asking questions because suddenly we were getting closer to security very, very fast. Once we actually got to security we realized what had happened. TSA had made the decision that travelers didn’t need to remove their shoes or coats and didn’t need to take any electronics out of their bags (I wasn’t aware that these protocols were optional, but apparently they are). Not doing these two little things sped up security and people were flying through.
Once through security, we followed the hordes of people down the escalators to the trains that take you to your terminal. Heading down the stairs you could see the masses of people waiting for the trains. One train came every several minutes and as many people as humanly possibly were stuffing themselves on to it to head to their flights. We missed the first train but were towards the front of the line for the next train. After a slightly longer than normal wait there was an announcement that said the trains were once again experiencing an operational malfunction and would be repaired as soon as possible. The crowd became restless and lots of people were grumbling about how they were going to miss their flights (liked this wasn’t on every single person’s mind), but we waited…and waited…and waited. After about 20 minutes the trains started running again and we stuffed ourselves on the next train with hundreds of our closest friends and hoped like hell that the train wouldn’t break down before we made it to Terminal C. Luckily, we made it in one piece and were ready to head to our gate.
Our two-hour window between when we arrived to the airport and when our flight was leaving had been gobbled up by security and the broken train so we arrived to the gate with just a couple of minutes to spare. We patiently waited for Group A and B to board and finally it was time to go! We scanned out tickets, filed on to the plan, found our seats, I took my Dramamine to avoid any motion sickness and to hopefully catch a quick nap before getting to Vegas, put my carry on under my seat, and FINALLY laid my head against my headrest. We listened to the quick safety talk and we were off. With it being such a busy day it took a little while for us to taxi out to runway, but finally it was our turn! We rounded the bend to the runway and I waited for engines to kick on and the plane to race down the runway. Well, the engines kicked on, but there was no racing down the runway. The engine on the left side of the plane made an absolutely horrible sound and then FLAMES flew out of the back. The pilot shouted “Stay in your seat, stay in your seat” over and over again over the intercom and quickly drove the plane off the runway. Once we were safely off the runway the pilot came back on the intercom and said that he had gotten an indicator that something was wrong with an engine (potentially the indicator was the horrible sound and flames) and that we needed to return to the terminal so a mechanic could take a look at it. Once we returned to the terminal we deboarded and they told us to stay near the gate for updates.
I think it’s important to mention at this time that I took Dramamine about 30 minutes ago and it was starting to kick in…I was not feeling 100% and could have really gone for a quick nap.
After about an hour, and several updates from the Spirit Airlines staff telling us they didn’t have any updates, Spirit cancelled our flight and told all 300+ passengers to go back to the main terminal, pick-up our check baggage and return to the Spirit Airlines counter to get rebooked on another flight. My better half and I immediately jumped to action. We snaked back through the airport, back on to the malfunctioning train, back to the main terminal, past the still crazy busy security, to baggage claim. I sprinted to the Spirit counter in hopes of beating the 300+ passengers (I DID!) and get answers faster while my better half went to retrieve our baggage that we had dropped off just a few hours earlier.
To say the Spirit Airlines staff were displeased to see the hordes of people from our flight would be a complete understatement. I actually saw them fighting over who would have to deal with us. But, because of my mad sprinting skills I was third in line and got to talk with a representative pretty quickly. The Spirit representative gave us three options: 1) we could fly out Wednesday at 6pm, fly through San Francisco and get to Vegas after midnight; 2) we could fly out Thursday on the same flight we were scheduled for on Wednesday (and then we would have ~24 hours in Vegas); or 3) get a full refund + $150 vouchers and head home. Even though I have been actually dreaming about going to Vegas and having an actual vacation we decided to get the refund and turn our vacation in to a staycation because the other options just seemed exhausting and with our luck from the day we were terrified we were going to get stuck in California, or worse, our plane would burst in to flames.
After pulling the plug on our flight we made some calls and cancelled all of our reservations. Everyone I talked with at RentalCars.com and Travelocity.com were so helpful and we got all of our money back and they waived all of our late cancellation fees ( I just think they all felt really bad every time I mentioned our plane caught on fire). Dejectedly, we headed back to the shuttle to long-term parking (see, it really wasn’t long-term parking at all), paid our $8 and headed back to Denver.
If I didn’t need a vacation before our experience yesterday I REALLY need a vacation now, but that just isn’t in the cards for us right now. Good news is we have a couple days off and then just two and a half weeks left of the semester before another break.
My new mantra…”I think I can…I think I can…”