When the Alarm Clock Doesn’t Go Off

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Saturday morning I woke up bright and early at 6AM. With an immediate sense that something was wrong. And it was, my flight for my friend’s bachelorette party was leaving at 6:55. I’d set my alarm for 4AM and it never went off. There was no way I could make it to the airport in time, although I had wild thoughts about running out to the car in my pajamas if there was a chance.

What made the whole thing worse is that I’d JUST had a conversation with friends the night before about missing flights and exchanging our stories. I’d only missed one flight in my entire life (funnily enough on my way to another wedding) and we discussed that motto that if you never/rarely miss a flight, you’re wasting too much time at the airport.

So thoroughly embarrassed I immediately pulled up the delta website to see the next flights out and called customer service. There was an 8AM flight to a nearby airport, but the agent said I couldn’t switch. My only option was the 12:30 flight which got me in too late. And I’d have to pay a $50 same day confirmed change fee. I thanked her for her time and prepared to hang up and figure out all my other options. She persisted with offers for rental cars and then asked if I’d take a survey. At that point I lost it a little bit and just gasped out “I DON’T HAVE TIME RIGHT NOW, I NEED TO GET A FLIGHT” and hung up.

No trains would get me in in time.

So I could pay $450 to switch to the 8AM flight

I could drive 6 hours each way.

I could book a last minute round trip flight on US Airways for $230.

In the last year of my life, I’ve finally started internalizing the idea of sunk cost and the importance of convenience. Driving would be the cheapest, but it would also be the most tiring and stressful. And if any more winter storms hit, I’d be in trouble. US Airways it was! I found a 9AM flight booked it and was done.

Next I switched my rental car, but because I’d be flying in and out of different airports it was considered a one-way so I couldn’t use my free rental day certs. I went back and forth about whether I’d made the right choice in racking up another $200, but again decided that being able to make a quick decision and choose flights that best fit my times and needs was worth the cost.

I got my packing finalized, only forgetting a few key items like my laptop charger, razor, and toothbrush, but fortunately it looked like the Hyatt I’d be staying at would be able to provide those items.

At the airport I felt like I had plenty of time and opted for the economy lot. Only to discover that lot was pretty full and I had to park way off and jog (in my heels) for the bus. Once I arrived in the terminal I experienced some of the worst security lines I’ve ever seen at Reagan, backed up half the length of the airport. I lucked out and got into a newly formed line and made it through in only 40 minutes. I arrived at the gate a few minutes before they were boarding and asked if there was any hope of an upgrade.

Two minutes later I had my first class seat in hand and was ready to board. Turned out Justice Ginsberg was sitting in the seat behind me, which explained all the security guys at the gate. Kinda cool :).  I settled into my seat and sat. And sat. We wound up waiting for an hour to take off because of air traffic control.

I’d been beating myself up the entire morning for wasting so much money. My $115 Delta flights which I couldn’t use and the $230 I spent on the US Airways flight. Not to mention the rental car. But somehow the wait made it better.

I’d been dreading my first flight without status in 7 years. I can only imagine how miserable I would have been squished in Delta economy for an extra hour. And now I was sitting comfortably in First Class with a cup of tea and getting one of those random cool life experiences by being one seat away from a Supreme Court Justice. No, I wouldn’t have chosen to spend $500+ on such an experience, but since I had no choice, I decided to enjoy it.


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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