Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 WDW Marathon Week - Getting There (sucked)

This is not a story you want to see the day you are flying out of mind-numbing cold Chicago to tolerable-cold Orlando:

Chicago's O'Hare International Airport recorded -15 degrees at 7 a.m. Monday, breaking existing Jan. 6 low set in 1894 and tied in 1988. By 8:30 a.m., the official Chicago temperature had dipped another degree, to -16.Source:

We were to leave Tuesday January 7th for Walt Disney World's Marathon Weekend. The first race was Thursday morning, but you need to be at the expo the day before your race to pick up your bib and to have the best chance of getting all your desired race merchandise.

At 10am our late-afternoon flight to Orlando was still scheduled to leave on-time. At 10:30 Holly called Dave to let him know the flight was canceled. He was at the ATM in his building at the time so he had to run up to his workspace so he could grab an empty cubbie-hole (his office has open seating with no desk phones) and call the airline. There was one more flight to Orlando from O'Hare that evening, but it was booked. So the next goal was to try any other Florida airport. Tampa (90 minute drive) had a connection through Miami. Fort Myers (2 hour drive) was available, but Dave had a hunch that flight would get chopped. Nothing else was available.... We opted to take the flight to Miami (without continuing to Tampa) so we could go hub-to-hub, thinking this was the flight least likely to get canceled. Then, we'd drive the 3.5 hours to Orlando. Looks like it's time to cancel that dinner reservation at Jiko.

Holly arrived at Dave's office to pick him up, but she had to come in so we could do some paperwork prepare for the worst-case travel scenario. Since Dave was busy working with airlines trying to scam the first class seats on the later Orlando flight he sent a coworker down to pick Holly up from the lobby. No luck on the first class.

Preparing for the chance we would not make the expo we decided to get some paperwork together so friends could pick up all of our required race packets. We printed bib waivers, signed pickup authorization forms, and copied our photo IDs. We scanned them to a PDF and emailed the whole pack to several friends.

We get to O'Hare and parked in the long-term lot where you normally take a bus to the train. Usually buses arrive every five minutes. Since we were traveling to Florida we ditched the winter coats and waited it out in one of the shelters. After about 7 minutes we realized that -45 is too cold to be in a shelter with a broken heater. Dave lead the charge to the next shelter, where the heater brought temperatures up to the low teens. Buses were delayed because the monorail wasn't working so all buses were running back and forth to the terminals.  We waited close to 25 minutes for that bus.

After lunch we sat at the gate forever and the plane was nowhere in sight. Since we were traveling to Disney to meet up with our Team AllEars friends we were tracking everyone's travel nightmares on Facebook. One friend taking off out of Chicago's other airport made it with no issues, while another friend a few hours away ended up driving. Stress level building some more, but hey the flight from Midway left.

Still no plane.  The staff wasn't offering up much information. About 5 minutes before take-off they tell us our plane is in the hanger being repaired and a decision will be made at 7:00 (90 minutes from that time). Panic time. We know this is not good. Dave got on the phone with the airline and found that seats became available on the Orlando flight, but we could not get on it since our bags were still on an active flight. Holly's stress level started to raise a bit. Dave decided to follow a Disney rule: You don't like the answer, ask another cast member. He took off to try to find a service desk. Ha Ha! They exist on the gate side of security. He then picked up a courtesy phone to speak with an agent. The agent was able to move our bags off the Miami flight and onto the Orlando flight. He printed out boarding passes (with no seat assignments) and presented Holly their new itinerary! Next stop: the bar! About 20 minutes passed since Dave changed flights when the gate announced the Miami flight was canceled and the next option for those passengers would be in the morning.

Our flight took off a few minutes late and we arrived in Orlando safely! Holly waited for the bags while Dave handled the rental car. While at the car desk Dave ran into runDisney race announcer, and friend of Team Tizzel, Rudy Novotny. We had a nice chat for a few minutes. Dave headed back to check on Holly and found her in the luggage lost and found office (of course she was first on line). Our bags were sent to Miami. We know this means they won't get to us until later the next day. We were smart enough to pack all of our race items into our carry-ons, but that's it. Nothing else extra. We claimed our car - one of 3 available in the entire Alamo lot. Just happy to have a car, we took off without noticing the car was keyed.... Great!

About 12:50 we arrive on Disney property and figure out there's a 24 hour Walgreen's nearby. Time to buy some essentials. We could recycle some of our clothing from the day from hell and use some extra running clothing to fill in the blanks.  We had one night booked at Animal Kingdom Lodge. Checked in at 1:30am and checked out at 8:15am. Since we paid cash for breakfast we were able to obtain a blank Disney checkout receipt. Those of you familiar with these sheets will understand the sense of pride.

Now for the next stressful event....The Race Expo!

No comments:

Post a Comment