Mechanicals Make Me Bail On My Last Nonrev Flight

My nonrev flight from Atlanta to Madrid had mechanical problems as we were flying over the Atlantic.  We returned to Atlanta for repairs.  After waiting in the gate area for an hour, and watching the new departure time pushed back twice, I decided to just go home.

tagged aborted route

The Trip Plan

In my last post, I discussed how my flight benefits were going to be ending soon.  I planned to use my soon-to-be-expiring flight benefits to fly Delta to Madrid to visit my son for the weekend.  I would have to fly on a short commuter flight from Columbus, GA (CSG) to Atlanta (ATL), where I would have a two-hour layover before my transatlantic flight to Madrid (MAD.)  I would arrive in Madrid about 8:30 am the next day, and would then take a bus into central Madrid and meet my son.  I would take the day of arrival as a rest day, then have two full days in Madrid before I nonrev’d it back to the states the following day.

The Connecting Flight and ATL Layover

I left my house at about 1:30 pm for my 2:50 flight from CSG to ATL.  Did you catch those times?  No, I don’t live next to the CSG airport–in fact it takes us 30-45 minutes to get there from our house.  But it is a small airport, and often I arrive 30 minutes before a flight.  I got there at 2:20, breezed through “security,” and waited another 30 minutes for the flight.  I had no trouble getting a seat on this flight, as usual.

We sat on the runway at CSG waiting for air traffic control in Atlanta to clear us to take off.  We got to Atlanta shortly before four pm, and I went directly to the Delta SkyClub on the international concourse for a nice snack and beverage.  What a joy it is to be able to connect in Atlanta without going through security there!  I left the SkyClub about 5:00 for the Madrid flight which had a scheduled departure for 5:40.

The ATL-MAD (Non) Flight

I got my seat assignment almost as soon as I arrived at the gate.  There were about eight TSA agents there that were checking everyone’s passports before boarding.  This check was in addition to the one that the gate agent usually does when you board an international flight.  The EgyptAir crash had just happened the day before, and this TSA “show of force” was probably due to that sad incident.

We sat on the plane for another half hour before take off.  I was thrilled that I had a row to myself for an eight-hour flight.  Not as comfortable as first class, but not bad for the price ($0).  I settled into the flight, ordered a white wine, and began watching Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant.  About half way through the movie, the pilot came on with an announcement.  “Folks, you may have noticed we have changed direction.  We have an AC pack that is nonfunctional.  We will have to return to Atlanta and have the mechanics look at it.  This type of situation doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.  Sorry……etc.” The image above shows our flight path, and the red X marks the approximate spot that we turned around.

We arrived back at ATL about 9:00, and they set the new departure time for 10:00 pm.  Kudos to Delta for providing a snack box since we had not been served dinner on the aircraft!  At about 9:20 the new departure time was pushed to 10:30.  I was starting to get tired–I’d already been “on the road” nine hours.  I decided that if there was another delay I would just go home.  I also was suspicious that the crew would time out with additional delays.   I was not looking forward to an all-night flight that arrived in Madrid at noon, and then having to negotiate my way into the city while being super jet-lagged.

I’m Pushed Over the Edge By an Additional Delay

At about 9:30 the departure was again pushed back to 10:45 pm, and at that point I decided to just go home. It just wasn’t worth the stress for only two full days in Madrid.  I took a ground shuttle home, and when I got there I checked the Delta app that showed the plane finally took off just as I was walking in my door. It was 11:30 pm.

Perhaps I should have just waited it out like all the other people on the flight that paid for their tickets.  I do feel bad that I didn’t make the trip; however, I have gotten past the notion that I must travel at all costs.  At a certain point, travel becomes drudgery that must be endured, and I wasn’t up for it that night.

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