I refreshed the page on my phone incessantly, monitoring where Lisa’s flight was. I mean, I knew it was late, but now every minute counted, and I wanted to know every change and how late it would be.
In fact, her flight wasn’t just late – it was extremely late – about 3 hours behind schedule leaving Salt Lake City because of a mechanical issue. So the generous layover that had been booked in Atlanta had all been taken away. Instead of arriving at 4:44, she was due to arrive at 7:34.
I looked at our departure time for the flight to Rome. It hadn’t moved since late in the morning, when it was delayed until 8:15 from the original 8 PM. But it wasn’t really 8:15, because passengers have to be on board 15 minutes before departure. Still I appreciated those extra few minutes.
Of course her incoming gate was in the A terminal, whereas we were leaving from F2. The gates could have scarcely been further apart. The Delta app has a mapping feature and told me the trip from A24 to F2 takes 21 minutes. That amount of time sounded fine until the arrival time crept upward to 7:43, which would leave 17 minutes for Lisa to get off of her plane and navigate a strange airport.
I became pessimistic, but still tried to maintain some hope, as the flight tracker took the plane far to the east.
As soon as she landed I called and gave her directions, the first words of which were “You’re going to have to book it!”
And then I noticed something important. Even though we were due to start boarding at 7:20, it was already almost 7:40 (her gate time was 7:36), and we hadn’t yet begun. They had announced boarding, but nobody was on the plane. There is no reasonable way Delta can board all of the passengers onto a full A330 in 20 minutes and close the door. We were running even later than they were admitting to.
And that meant Lisa had time.
I think she arrived at the gate at 7:53. And she hugged me.
It wasn’t just a quick little hug – it was one of those big giant hugs that makes other people in the airport stare – and smile. And it wasn’t a single big giant hug – there were several of them.
I was smiling too. Lisa had made the connection! All of this left me with one other question: had she been automatically rebooked? If you remember, this happened when I went to Australia, and Delta assumed I wouldn’t make the connection, so automatically rebooked me.
I tried not to worry as we sat and talked for the 5 minutes until boarding started. When time came, there was some sort of hold up with her ticket that delayed boarding, but it was the briefest of pauses, and then we were on the plane.
What do you do when you haven’t seen a friend in 22 years?
Apparently you go to Italy.