To say I am disappointed would be an understatement. I am not sure whether to blame myself, circumstances, weather, or poor planning on my part. Regardless of who or what is to blame, sometimes travel doesn’t go as planned.
Early this morning, I headed to the airport on my way to Boulder, Colorado as part of the College Football Travel Tour. The morning started off well – all the way through boarding. As everyone was seated, the pilots announced there was a delay as the computers weren’t reading the weight and balances correctly so this would have to be done manually. A 6:25 am flight was delayed.
An hour later and everything was finally ready to go. Flight demonstrations were done, flight attendants seated, and the plane was ready to leave the gate. Right before we were ready to take off, the pilots made another announcement – high winds had grounded all air traffic in Denver. We would have to wait at least an hour before we would know if we could leave.
At 7:40 am, the doors of the airplane were opened and all the passengers were allowed to leave the plane and hang out by the gate. By 8 am, I was thinking whether or not I should leave the plane – and go home.
I spent time talking to the main flight attendant telling him about my plans to see Colorado play Arizona today. The time was now 9 am in Boulder and the game started at 12:30 pm. Here we were still seated on the plane, all the passengers were wandering around by the gate, and we were still an hour away from leaving the ground. I wasn’t even sure if I was going to go as I would miss half the game.
A flight leaving at 9 am (it would be 10 am in Denver) wouldn’t land until noon. Then we would still have to taxi to the gate which would take another 10 or 15 minutes. At 12:15, kickoff would be 15 minutes away. I would still have to take a shuttle to get my rental car and then make another 45 minute drive to Boulder before I could go to the game. That’s if we left at 9 am.
Do I stay or do I go?
Finally, we got the clearance to go at 8:45 am. As the flight attendants were taking a head count, I had to make a decision – do I go to Boulder or do I go home?
In my mind, I wrestled with all the scenarios. At minimum, I would miss the first quarter and may not get there until halftime. As part of a College Football Travel Tour, would it be worth going if I missed half the game? In talking to the flight attendants, wind would be an issue in Denver all day today making it a miserable experience.
I wouldn’t be able to feature any tailgating experiences today as well. Being as late as I was, I would miss it. And with the high winds, there wouldn’t be much tailgating anyways. Once the game ended, the sun would be setting and I wouldn’t have any more daylight to explore the town.
If I went, I would waste an entire day on half of a football game in high winds with little time to do anything else in Boulder. I would be left with a day and a half to explore the town, review hotels, find places to eat, explore the campus, and find activities in Boulder. All of this would need to be done before I left Monday afternoon. Aside from this delay, this trip was poor planning on my part.
Travel plans canceled
At 8:35 am, I was thinking about my family. Deep down inside, none of this seemed like a good idea and the entire trip didn’t feel right at all. So I gathered my bags and left the airplane.
At the gate, the captain was still trying to formalize his plans and get his final schedule approved. I told the gate attendants and pilot I was leaving because I was going to miss the game. The pilot told me that 80 mph wind gusts were forecast in Boulder today. And that confirmed my decision.
The staff, pilots, and flight attendants at Frontier Airlines were very helpful and understanding. They were sympathetic towards my situation and the gate attendant was nice enough to refund my airline ticket. Unfortunately, my hotel was non-refundable but I didn’t have to pay for anything else.
I grabbed my bags, headed downstairs, and took the shuttle back to my car. I looked at the time as I put my bags in my car and saw Frontier Airlines flight 224 to Denver plane take off right in front of me. The time was 8:58 am.
Regret and disappointment
When I got home, I went online and checked the status of my flight. The plane finally landed at noon in Denver. Wind gusts were being reported at over 80 mph. People were posting photos of things that were blown over. People in Boulder were calling it hurricane Boulder.
All morning, I tried to find ways to justify my decision. And every bit of news I read made me feel a little better. Today was no day to be outside in Boulder. And even with the football game being played, high winds were forecast the rest of the day. Even if I made the end of the first half, the rest of the day in Boulder wasn’t going to be much fun.
I had an awesome trip on campus and during the football game at the University of Washington. I was looking forward to the Colorado Buffaloes football game (even if they are having a bad season). As a little kid, I remembered watching games at Folsom Field against top teams like Nebraska during the days of Coach McCartney and looked forward to going. Yet nothing seemed to go well today. This trip just didn’t seem right.
However, I felt guilty all day. Instead of being at home, I felt like I was supposed to be somewhere else. I tortured myself in the afternoon. I turned on the Colorado – Arizona game and watched it until the end. The winds were bad but the sun was shining. The game was much better than I expected and Colorado got their first Pac 12 win ever beating Arizona 48-29. All I could think about was that I should have been there and how fun that game would have been.
What do you do when travel plans change?
Later today, I thought about the older couple sitting down in front of the ticket counter as I was getting my ticket refunded. They had left the same flight as me, booked on American Airlines, and then didn’t get on that flight either. Now, they were stuck in the airport, missing the start of their vacation in Costa Rica, and the wife was crying (Frontier Airlines got them booked on a 10 am flight on US Airways through Phoenix).
In their case, a delayed flight disrupted their travel plans. In my case, a delayed flight due to mechanical issues and FAA regulations was delayed even more by weather problems. Then I decided that getting to the game late and poor planning wouldn’t make this trip worth the effort and the amount of money I was spending.
Sometimes, travel plans are changed because of things outside of our control. And sometimes our travel plans are changed because of choices we make.
Did I make the right decision to cancel my flight and head home? I’ve been trying to convince myself that I did. Yet the disappointment and regret has been hanging over my head all day.
I’m already planning my next trip for the College Football Travel Tour. However, I can’t wait to go to Colorado – next year.
Did I make the right decision to cancel my travel plans? How do you handle travel plans when they are changed?