By: Laura M. Phillips

With all the talk about airline troubles, I thought I'd put in my 2 cents worth and talk about mine. This really happened to me last year.

For the second year, I was driving my parents car down to Florida for the winter. It's a pleasant drive, and gets me away from the daily grind, so I enjoy the trip.

I had been on the road for less then two hours when a cop pulls me over. Now mind you, I'm not in MY car, and it's loaded to the hilt with computers, silver, china, books, clothes, etc... I couldn't even find the registration for the car!!! So I pulled the contents out of the glove compartment and the cop was nice enough to flip through it until he finds it. He's also hanging onto the side of the car so the force of the wind (caused by speeding trucks) doesn't blow him away. Ticket in hand, pissed off yet laughing about what could have happened, I'm on my way again.

Rest of the trip was a piece of cake, even my return by plane was smooth and uneventful. But then it always is when I fly American :)

But 6 weeks later, I'm now taking a friend of the family's car down to Florida. Again, I load it up with books and other things my mother wants down in Florida. After all, why pass up the opportunity to bring down more? And don't forget the sword!!! Now that I've got a lethal weapon in the car, you can bet I'm the slowest driver in the world!!

Other then being sick for the 5 days I was with my parents, the trip was quiet, and no tickets. But now I have to get home. My ticket was arranged by the family friends son, who is a travel agent. Instead of the small hop from Naples to Miami using American, I get to leave from Ft. Myers Florida on Continental Airlines. Have you ever flown with them?

Was a nice plane, everyone was pleasant. But we sat on the runway in Florida for over an hour before being cleared to take off. Ok, I can deal with that, after all the weather wasn't the greatest in other states, and it was just a few days before Christmas. One has to expect delays somewhere.

What I couldn't understand (and never will) is why my final destination was to Washington, DC I was scheduled to stop in Newark, N.J., where I was to switch planes!! It's just not logical, no matter how you look at it.

Upon arrival to N.J., being on the complete opposite side of the airport, and an hour later then scheduled. I missed my flight. Wait in line for instructions on what to do and they tell me to go to the same gate and get on the plane and that will take me to DC. This is fine, but I need to contact my husband at the airport to let him know why I'm not on the plane that is now landing there!!

Surprisingly, the let me use the phone, and I talked to a really nice man who promised to keep paging my husband until he got my message.

This renews my faith in people. Until I get on the plane. It's PACKED, but I find a seat and settle in. Ten minutes later there is an announcement "Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen. Our flight to Reagan National Airport, has been delayed until our "pilot" arrives".

HUH? We are sitting on a plane, in an airport and they can't find a pilot??? ANYWHERE??

They wouldn't give us snacks or drinks for that whole 2+ hours there, waiting for a pilot. Never mind that it's now past dinner, I didn't get lunch on the earlier flight (or a snack even, and what is a snack?), plus I didn't have breakfast!! I've been on planes sitting on the ground, longer then any normal flight from Fla to DC normally would have taken. I boarded my first flight at 11am, it's now after 7pm and I'm still waiting!

They finally find a pilot, and we are all hoping he's well rested and not just off a 10 hour flight or something. 30 minutes later we are in the air, and I'm wondering if there will be anyone at the other end to pick me up. I couldn't expect my husband to still be there over 3 hours later still waiting for me! And what if he didn't get my message? Wonder where my luggage is.

We finally arrived at Reagan, I never thought I'd see it again! But now what? The big question was answered when I see my husband patiently waiting for me (although not the happiest looking soul). First words out of my mouth were "get me OUT of here and to some FOOD!" and surprisingly, the luggage came through by the time we got to the luggage area. I'll bet it made the other flight!!

Stopped at Roy Rogers for a bite, I was feeling normal again. And twelve hours after getting on my first flight, I was finally home. It dawned on me that driving almost would have been faster then flying............this time.

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