Sunday, July 01, 2007

vacation highlights (part two- i believe i can fly)

vacation highlight number five: i just wanna fly

four hours into a five hour layover (sans free internet access, i might add) at the salt lake city airport, i strolled up to the gate for the flight to west yellowstone, montana, and took a seat amongst my future potential travel mates. after settling in with a book and my ipod, the announcements began.

"delta airlines is looking for volunteers to give up their seats on whatever flight number this is that's heading to west yellowstone at four something p.m."

(ok- you got me- i'm paraphrasing, not quoting, but it's been a couple of weeks, and i didn't exactly mentally tape record the announcement.)

five minutes passed by- no volunteers.

five minutes after that, there still weren't any volunteers, despite offering to sweeten the pot by dangling a $400 credit carrot in front of our noses.

what happened next was eerily reminiscent of sitting in a high school math class where the teacher asked for volunteers and instead of hands being raised, everyone simply sunk down a little lower in their seats. (not that i ever did that, mind you.) just when you thought you might have gotten off scott-free......

"would everyone on flight number whatever* leaving for west yellowstone at sometime in the near future please approach the podium for an important announcement?"

crap- we're all being called up to the teacher's desk.

"okay, everyone- gather 'round. your flight is oversold- well, not actually oversold, but due to the heat (everywhere i went on vacation, the temperature rose to at least 95 degrees- i kid you not), we need to take two people off of this flight to yellowstone."

(this was followed by several fabulous offers, some of which i almost considered, had daddy not been planning to meet me at the other end of the flight.)

"if we don't have any volunteers in the next five minutes, we will pick two people to take a later flight."

great. perhaps just this once, my track record of being picked last for just about anything will come in handy.

five minutes passed.

"would (insert name on my birth certificate) please approach whatever number gate corresponds with the flight to west yellowstone?"*


chalking up my newfound popularity to the fact that i was probably the only person on this flight who'd arrived in salt lake city on another airline, which naturally makes me look infinitely more suspiscious than the guy next to me, who's dressed like marilyn manson and is literally foaming at the mouth and growling at people**, because why would i book two flights on two seperate airlines on the same day- surely NOT BECAUSE US AIRWAYS DOESN'T FREAKING FLY TO WEST YELLOWSTONE, i gathered up my worldly possessions and began dragging them up to the desk. three steps from my chair, the announcer sized me up, and i guess she realized that kicking me off the plane really would't save much weight, because almost as soon as she saw me, she told me i could go sit down again.

however, that was not the last time my name would be announced over the terminal speakers.

after two involuntary volunteers were chosen (or maybe they were voluntary volunteers- i didn't hear any announcements, but i'd already gotten back into my book again), there was an announcement that zone one passengers could board the plane. looking at the zone three ticket i was using as a bookmark, i went back to my book and barely raised an eyebrow to see what the zone two folks looked like when they were called up a couple minutes later.

next thing i know, i'm being personally invited to board the plane. at least that's what i took the announcement saying i needed to approach the gate because i should've been on the plane by now to mean.

i should be on the plane by now? i'm the only one? either this meant that there were only two other zone three ticketholders, and they'd been the lucky "volunteers" who'd been kicked off the flight, or else i was the only zone three ticketholder polite enough to wait for the zone three anouncement (which, i might point out, never came- i wasn't that engrossed in my book).

so, book stashed in my laptop case, i gathered up my worldly possessions once again and made my way to the gate. i handed my ticket to the person at the ticket scanner thingy***, and instead of scanning it and letting me get on with my day, he announced my name to the podium chick*** quizzically, as if there was some question whether or not i was allowed to get on the plane.

by this point, a few thoughts are running through my mind:

~this is surely a sign that i'm not meant to board this plane, which will undoubtedly go down like buddy holly's.
~there had better be some serious frequent flyer miles up for grabs here.
~crap- somebody found the bodies.

as i'm pondering which bodies might have been found, i hear the podium chick tell the ticket scanner person that i'd been cleared to board as she opened the door to allow me to finally get on my plane.

roughly an hour and a half later, we landed at what is easily the smallest airport i've ever encountered. i thought the bangor airport, with its three gates, was small. i thought the bozeman, montana airport, with its two gates, was small. however, i was unprepared for the west yellowstone airport, which is the size of a postage stamp not only at 3,000 feet, but at 300, as well. the back door was the gate, and luggage was brought to the baggage claim via handcart.

the west yellowstone airport, as seen from the parking lot (note the two sets of doors)

the west yellowstone airport baggage claim

*yep- paraphrasing again

**not only do i paraphrase, but sometimes i exaggerate a little, too.

***why yes, that is a technical term


The Rover said...

They might have also sized you up as 300 pounds of badass in a 90 pound body and let you have your seat out of an intense fear.

This same sort of fear is often reserved for those who must take urine samples from polar bears. So these pitiful airport personnel could not cope with it, and merely tried to leave you off of their plane.

duff said...

taking urine smaples from polar bears? now there's a job i hope to never have.

actually, it goes beyond hope- given a choice between that and stripping for toothless geriatric rednecks on amateur night out in the boonies, i'd happily say, "pass the pasties".