4:00 am wake-up. The wind is howling and there’s an inch of snow on the sidewalk, but that’s to be expected when traveling from Marquette in January. The commuter plane arrived last night and is scheduled “on time” according to the airline’s website.

I’m thankful for Todd’s willingness to rise early and drive me on this typical winter morning. It gives me time to change all my phone contacts in my iPhone from only numbers to names. How does a phone decide to make that change on it’s own the night before I’m leaving?

We arrive at the airport, and I notice the long line. It’s too long of a line for the size of the plane. Yes, they are looking for volunteers. Why is it I get these offers only when I don’t have flexibility in my travel plans? In the TSA line, I overhear others saying the same thing as me, “A voucher? What if the weather worsens? I need to get out today.”

No more announcements for volunteers. Someone (or two) had flexibility. Standing, not sitting, in the secured boarding area I hear another announcement, “Delay in boarding due to weather in Detroit.” Detroit? What about the cold temperature and blowing snow here in Marquette? No, of course that’s not a problem.

Thirty minutes later, it’s a go to board the plane. I’m thankful for the jet bridge but wonder why it can’t reach completely to the plane. Must there be a two-foot gap between the cover of the jet bridge and the actual plane? The blustering wind whips through the gap as I step into the plane and see the flight attendant holding the navy blue curtain as a shield around her while greeting us with a forced smile of friendliness on a frigid 5:50 am morning.

I’m in seat 11C. The woman next to me has a two and half hour layover. Me? Thirty-five minutes between this flight’s scheduled landing and boarding of my next flight. I can do it. I only had fifteen and then twenty minutes last time I flew this round-trip itinerary.

The captain explains the previous delay in Detroit and how once our plane is de-iced, we’ll be taking off. Let the de-icing commence!

And continue. And continue. A few pages of reading, a quick nap filled with head-bobs and another announcement. De-icing is taking longer than expected due to a build-up of ice, but we’ll be on our way soon. Scheduled departure was 6:00. Actual departure? 7:18.

We reach cruising altitude. It’s time for complimentary beverages and samplings, aka snacks. “…I apologize but the water tanks filled in Marquette are frozen so there will be no hot coffee or tea…” My feet are cold but the two-month-old in row 10 is quiet and will continue to sleep for the one-hour flight. I enjoy my string cheese, a little more time resting my eyes, and a smooth flight.

The bumps begin, but it’s time to prepare for landing. Seat 10A and B will need to rebook. “…our scheduling department is aware of our delay and will be rebooking many of you…self-help stations…any ticket agent…” Am I destined to a longer layover now too?   The sky is gray, filled with sogginess. I much prefer the white of snow.

I deplane and find a ticket agent. She inspects my boarding pass. “They’ve probably rebooked you,” as she scans my now invalid boarding pass. The new boarding pass shows my departure: 12:50 pm. So much for lunch in San Fran, but didn’t I know travel in January is always filled with potential?

Glancing at the departure board, I see my original flight still flashing, “Boarding.” Can I make it? A quick pace down the escalator, through the psychedelic tunnel, up the escalator, (why is it built this way?) and a right turn to Gate 34. Yes! People still standing by the gate.

No. The door is closed. “Status: Closed.” The tip of plane’s tail and wing is visible through the window, but another look reveals the door is still closed. I slowly lift the new boarding ticket in my hand and begin the walk to Gate A68 for a 12:50 departure. Maybe the sun will come out and shine through the windows during my layover and writing time.

Post Script: The natural sun never appeared but two blog posts were written (including this one) and my rebooking included a seat in first-class. There is sunshine in the grayness of winter if we are willing to wait to see it.