The Sequester Has Got Me Sore!

I never thought I would be sore from a government issue.  Not sore as in I’m upset at them (well, I am too), but physically sore!

I had some meetings in DC followed by an evening event in Chicago.  I booked a flight with a tight time constraint, knowing this was risky.  There was a connection, which I couldn’t really avoid for costs reasons, but the time for the connection was reasonable, and the flight that left after mine would get me to the event either right at the time I was supposed to be there, or a few minutes after.  If I could have avoided this, I would have.

My gate for take-off was moved from 35a to 35 at Reagan, a move that made my flight more likely to be on-time (maybe I’ll write more on this later), and we boarded remarkably fast.  We pushed back and got in line for takeoff.  We were second to take off when the plane turned off and went off to the side to park.

The pilot announced, “We’ve been asked to not take off for no reason other than the sequestration.  I mean, there’s no actual reason why we can’t take off.  But they aren’t letting anyone take off, and well, we have to listen to them.â€

The sequestration has resulted in budget cuts that caused the FAA to furlough air traffic controllers.  But they spread the furlough evenly across airports even though they didn’t have to—so busy and slow airports had the same exact impact.  (For advice on booking a flight with this going on, check out Keri’s article).

It is believed they are applying these budget cuts in a way to intentionally disrupt things as much as possible.  According to the Wall Street journal, “Airlines and some lawmakers have said the FAA is taking a rigid approach to the cutbacks, applying them in a way that has led to flight delays across the country, especially at airports in the Northeast.â€

While I was sitting in a plane watching no other planes take off, it was hard for me not to believe these delays are intentional and avoidable.   And quotes like these don’t help:  “… airlines say the FAA is giving them little information about the delays, so they are struggling to adjust schedules in advance.  ‘We’re not working in partnership with the FAA,’ said Robert Isom, chief operating officer at US Airways Group Inc. ‘We liken it to Whac-A-Mole.’â€

I hate it when battles like these get taken out on the travelers to make a point.  We’re innocent parties here!  Just like when American Airlines was going to battle with its own pilots, your average traveler suffers more than the airline.

But back to me.

We sat and sat and sat.  By the time we took off, I estimated I might have about 25 minutes to doors closing to make my flight.  There was a chance my flight would be delayed out, but given my first flight was delayed on the tarmac, I doubted my next flight would be delayed at the actual gate.

I knew my flight option afterwards, but was really worried about the cascading effect of these delays.  The second flight could sit on the tarmac just as long, and not only would I miss the “check-in time†for work, but the event itself.  I had to make this flight more than I realized before.

I was wrong about the 25 minutes to doors closing.  I made it with 15 minutes until doors closed.

We landed in the F terminal in Philly, and I had to get to B.  There’s no way to get to B terminal without taking a shuttle (unless you feel like exiting security).  The shuttle takes five minutes on a good day.  We landed at the furthest point from the shuttle in the terminal, and my connecting flight was most of the way down B terminal.  I was going to miss my flight.

I was so sure, I even tweeted, “This is one I can’t make by running.â€Â  And everyone agreed.

But still, since it was for a work event, and I was so afraid of the next flight getting stuck on the tarmac for a while, I figured I’d make the greatest effort possible so I felt like I did something—so I could almost make it.  So I ran.

No, I sprinted.

I have been doing interval training lately at the suggestion of my trainer (Chris Nogales at the Washington Sports Club in Clarendon—highly recommend him, especially if you need to run for flights) and I think it is the only reason it worked out this way.

I sprinted from the end of the F terminal to the shuttle in less than 4 minutes.

The shuttle was a little slow and took about 8 minutes to get to the terminal.  Partly thanks to a baggage truck rear ending another vehicle and them getting into an argument in the travel lane.

I had three minutes.  There was absolutely no way I was making this.

Still, I broke into a full spring again.  I was one gate away when I felt my legs and breath giving out.  I waved my boarding pass over my head when I saw the door still open.

“3A?!†the woman yelled.   YES!

She turned the other people at the gate and said, “3A made it.â€Â  And got responses of, “NO!†and “You’re kidding!â€

Needless to say, this was the first time I actually got applauded at the gate.  I did it in fifteen minutes.

Once on the plane, I realized I hurt.  A lot.  When I want to make sure I get off the plane with plenty of time, I pack a LeSportsac duffel along with my purse.  Within that baggage, I had a laptop, iPad, heels, work materials, a book, and random cords.  While I was running, all of this was bouncing against me.  I just had too much adrenaline to notice the pain while I was running.

When I woke up the next morning, I was completely bruised.  Two days later, I had to slowly stroll through the airport and stood on the moving walkway every chance I got.  It hurt to hold my bags!

But, I made my work event!  That’s all that mattered to me at the time.  Tonight, I have the privilege and honor of having been invited to the Freddy’s, and I’m really excited.  Just please be understanding of my bruises and my stilted walking!


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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