Tips When Flying Across Country When Thunderstorms Are Along The Way
can test your patience. Especially when tired and traveling with a five year old across country! It's 7:05 AM Central Daylight time on a Friday. I'm sitting at Chicaco's O'Hare Airport looking out from concourse F at the dark grey clouds off in the distance. Below the overcast conditions planes are moving around with scattered ground crews through the puddles. It's not raining. My wife and daughter sit across the way looking as tired as they feel. We're all wiped out. We're supposed to be sound asleep in Rhode Island right now. I'll pause the story here for a second. A break in the typing...My wife just informed me that it's a three hour flight and we need to get some food because United Airlines doesn't serve meals on the plane. Pretzels won't do for a growing five year old....I'll be back...It's 7:15 AM CDT...
It's 7:26 AM CDT and we have about five minutes until they'll start boarding for Providence. My wife went to get the food as Katelyn slept stretched out on the seats in the boarding area....I'll continue from the plane as we'll have to pre-board with the sleeping beauty. We're hoping our luggage makes it there when we do....
8:26 AM CDT our luggage is on board. We saw it loading as we walked outside to get on the plane. We're currently cruising around 25,000 feet I'm guessing. We're between the altocumulus and the cirrus layers. Off in the distance towering cumulus surge through all layers. There will be another active day of thunderstorms for sure. We flew up over Chicago and north over Lake Michigan and we're now turning more north and east over northern Michigan. There were some breaks in the clouds and we got to see the lake and some farms below. I'll continue my story.
As I said earlier we're on our way to Providence for my cousins wedding. Coming from Boise, Idaho on Thursday we were supposed to connect in Chicago and continue into Providence that night. Thunderstorms put an end to that. We knew there would be severe storms in western Illinois the same system that devested Iowa with tornadoes killing 4 in the Boy Scout camp but thought we'd be able to make it through. The attendant in Boise put an end to that O'Hare was put into a slow mode due to the storm activity to thier west. Our flight was 50 minutes behind and not even off the ground yet! There was a glimmer of hope that we could still make our conection because that plane was going to Chicago from Omaha and it was severly delayed also. To make a long, long, long, I mean long story short we made it to Chicago eventually. We then learned that we missed our connection by two minutes! The airport was extremely crowded at 11 pm because almost all connections were missed from all over the country. So here are some tips if you are traveling to a wedding that requires air travel across the country through Chicago.
Study the weather forecast starting two days in advance: If there are any thunderstorms forecast between or in the areas you're flying to start making a plan! Don't think about it. Write it down.
Assume you'll be missing your connection: This is what you don't want but more than likely it's going to happen. With this in mind pack stuff like hair brushes, combs, contact stuff, glasses, medicines, and other stuff you'll need because you won't be able to get to your luggage. A change of clothes, underware, deoderant, and other items of comfort would be a good thing to pack. We didn't and right now at around 30,000 feet I feel disgusting!
Research the hotels around the airport: Knowing where to go is key. Fortunately we had the wisdom to ask and found our way to the hotel shuttle area. My wife is awesome and quickly grabbed the cell phone and before I knew it we had a room in the Hyatt for a great price. For them of course because we were only there for six hours! Having a list in place or calling in advance to find out exactly where the hotel shuttle will pick you up would be a very good thing.
Patience and Compassion: There were alot of people in the same predicatment. There were many that were noticably tired and cranky. Some like us had young ones which can increase stress at times like these. And there is no place like the shuttle pick up area at Chicago O'Hare that pushes patience to the limit. Tired with about 50 of our new closest friends we watched many shuttles pass by. When the Hyatt shuttle arrived it was like getting to the safety boats when the Titanic was sinking. Fortunately for us the driver allowed those with children on first! A very classy thing. But the crowd didn't like it. Some were complaining they were in line first. This guy took some heat, but he appologized and made it clear he only had enough seats and would return. The point is clear. Everyone is tired at times like this. Everyone is cranky and disappointed that the plans have changed. Expect to wait and try to smile.
You'll get there:Sitting on the plane knowing I'll be in Providence by noon makes it easier to type this. But time is something we have and at some point in time you'll arrive. It may be at the point in the wedding when the Pastor says if there is anyone who objects and then you walk into the ceremony. It may be at the reception. But you'll get there.
I hope this helps. At this point in our journey I can see God's plan a little. I'm thankful that I'm flying through the daylight and able to see some incredible clouds. I'm thankful my daughter on here first trip is loving to fly although now she's sound asleep. I'm thankful for a wonderful wife who is very organized. So when flying to a wedding check to see if thunderstorms are in your flight path to Chicago. Check to see if the storms are between Chicago and your connecting flight. If either are a possibility then plan for a worst case scenerio. Trust me planning for it will help when and if it happens...It's 10:30 AM Eastern Daylight time we're rapidly decending and I can see the Connecticut River. The sky has become mostly sunny our trip is getting brighter. We'll be landing in about 40 minutes. In our fatigue we can crack a smile.