I recently had the opportunity to take a trip to Washington D.C. with nine of my co-workers and three of our bosses for the fall College Media Advisor’s National Convention. The following is an account of the expedition from campus in Norman to the Hilton in Washington D.C.
The convention began Thursday morning, Oct. 24, so most of us flew out Wednesday afternoon. Brian Ringer, the director of Student Media, left before all of us so he could spend time with his brother and sister- in- law. Eight of us, Mike Mitra, Kelsey Witten, Breia Brissey, Ashley Carter, Lauren Parajon, Nanette Light, Natalie Avis, and me, left Norman Wednesday at 1:00 p.m., and the yearbook advisor, Lori Brooks, and newspaper advisor, Judy Robinson, left later that evening. The last to leave was Ashiq Zaman, the newspaper editor, who left Thursday morning.
For the eight of us that were scheduled to fly out of Will Rogers World Airport at 3:40 p.m., it would be an 11-hour travel day. The flight out of OKC took off on time, and we arrived into in Kansas City for our three-hour layover on time. However, little did we know that our three- hour layover would turn into the layover from hell despite the two- hour lunch that kept us all in stitches.
After eating the most expensive chicken tenders I’ve ever had and buying a couple magazines, we headed through security. Let me explain how difficult it is to go through security with eight journalists. Each of us brought our laptops, which required us to spend 10 minutes taking off our coats, shoes, and belts, pulling our laptops out of our bags and putting them in the bins. I also need to mention that our photographer, Mike, had an expensive digital camera along with two laptops that he had to put in the bins.
Once we made it through security for the second time that day, we were unable to find any available seats. We finally found a patch of carpet, but as soon as we got settled in to wait the next hour, the fire alarm for the entire airport went off.
No one moved. I personally was hoping it was a false alarm. Unfortunately, it was not. Every traveler had to evacuate the airport. We spent the next half hour standing outside in the cold next to people who have no concept of second hand smoke.
Once we were allowed to re-enter the building, you can imagine how long the security line was. I say line, because that’s what it was. It eventually split into two after a guard checked everyone’s ticket individually. However, worse than the second hand smokers that were invading my space outside the airport was a teenage girl and her younger brother behind me in the line. First, the girl was on the phone and practically screaming at her friend. I heard every word of her conversation. Second, she threatened to leave her younger brother, who was probably twelve, about six times. Two distinct occasions I can remember were when he refused to get up off the floor and when he refused to get off his skateboard. Yes, he was on his skateboard in line in a busy airport.
Once we finally got up to the security guards, Lauren couldn’t find her license. It took a good 10 minutes for her to find it. Not only was the guard agitated, but so were the hundred or so people in line behind us. Fortunately, we were able to board the plane immediately, but it still took off a half hour late.
I have never been so ready to get off an airplane. Not counting the number the chicken tenders did to my stomach at 10,000 feet, it was the worst flight I’ve ever been on. The lightning and rain made the flight extremely rough, and the seats were as hard as President Lincoln’s Georgian marble throne. If I ever considered flying Southwest again, no matter how cheap the flight, please remind me of this experience.
So you would think that the adventure would be over once we landed, but it’s it wasn’tnot. To save money we decided to fly into the Baltimore airport instead of Reagan in Washington D.C. The plan was to ride the Super Shuttle to the airport. We had to wait 20 minutes for our driver to arrive, and then we had to cram eight people into a van designed for six. At this point we really didn’t care. It was 11:30 p.m. and we just wanted a bed.
Byo is apparently an extremely cautious driver. It took us an hour to get from the airport to the Hilton. It should normally only takes between 30 and 45 minutes. Once at the hotel, we relaxed a little. Breia and Mike went to the front desk to check us into our rooms, while the rest of us waited in the lobby.
In the process I managed to bust my ass. I was sitting on my suitcase, the handle of which is broken. I’d been pulling it by a strap since the Baltimore airport. All of a sudden, my suitcase decided it wanted to roll out from under me. I let out a yelp and hit the floor where I proceeded to lay for the next five minutes out of embarrassment and hysteria. I blamed it on lack of sleep.
Fortunately, that was the last crazy event of the day. One of our rooms was upgraded to a parlor room because they only had one double room left. It was an incredible upgrade. The room was amazing, but of course it wasn’t mine. Breia, Kelsey, Natalie, and I got the shaft. We had the regular old double room, but I’ve never been so glad to see a bed.