Wednesday, April 1, 2009

We're Grounded -No Foolin!

Mt. Redoubt has decided to be a little fussy and ground hundreds of passengers. Since the eruptions began news reports estimate 10,000 passengers have been displaced -on Alaska Airlines alone! Alaska Airlines cancelled all flights to Alaska yesterday, ours included. The airline has done a pretty good job of trying to rebook flights they think they can schedule... It's a little difficult for the airlines to rebook entire planeloads of passengers on a few remaining seats of another flight, then only to have that flight canceled... There have been so many natural variables including plume size, ash content and wind and weather patterns, that make it very difficult to predict if a 3 plus hour flight in the proximity of the volcano will be safe in the air. 

For flights to Alaska big red "C's" flashed on the monitors yesterday at SEATAC. We waited and we watched, our middle son called us on my cell phone from Anchorage to deliver the news first as he heard a weather report that low lying ash was being blown towards Anchora
ge, then over the speaker the agent confirmed all flights were cancelled... It's difficult to describe hearing entire concourses of people sighing with disappointment -it sounded like being in a stadium and the game winning score is missed! For rebooking, passengers were directed back to Alaska Airline counters to corral style lines that were longer than a Disneyland ride. There were so many passengers needing rebooking, Alaska Air employees set up two separate areas that had agents spe
cifically designated to accommodate Alaska bound passengers. We cued up and waited over an hour for our turn -we weren't going anywhere soon, so how could we be in a hurry?! After we made it to the front of the line, then we were sent to another set of lines that hooked up eventually to agents working furiously attempting to rebook seats that would be tricky to guarantee flights out. The soonest we ha
ve been given seats out again is on Friday. 

While waiting my turn and getting friendly with other displaced travelers, I learned that the majority of people had been trying to get to Anchorage for 4 days! We were newbies, this was our first cancellation! BUT a really cool thing happened while standing in line, I noticed these guys next to me who looked vaguely familiar and had cool looking carry-ons, international tags with "Artist"(I wanted one of those), cool tattoos, good vibe etc.   HEY! ARE YOU GUYS THE BAND 36 CRAZYFISTS?!!! This is one of my middle son's favorite band! They were on their way back to Alaskaland after an amazing 6-8 week European tour. They are a homegrown group that is wildly popular -especially in Europe.  T
hey are so good, I read that they opened with Alice in Chains on this last tour. 

Here I am with Brock Lindow, the lead vocal (a bit of  "6 degrees of separation" -I found out we are both Dimond High grads -but he graduated just a "few" years after me!). After getting our new flights scheduled, 36 Crazyfists took us to dinner in their limo, gave our son a backstage pass to all future concerts THEN we all went out together and got into all the best bars and parties in Seattle!! Sorry, just kidding -they did let me take their picture though and were really, really, gracious considering they have been flying for over 18 hours, returning from their European tour and just had their flight home cancelled due to a volcano.  I'm not sure where the Band ended up but with umbrellas in hand, I think we're going to the Space Needle today.

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