When Going to Rome…

I make no secret about the fact that I don’t like air travel and the reason for that is fairly simple: at 6’4″ I simply do not fit in most airplane seats. Overnight flights, therefore, are the worst of all, since I generally have trouble sleeping in large metal objects hurtling through the upper levels of the atmosphere at 600 miles per hour.

The problem is, of course, I love being in other places, I just don’t like getting there.

Usually, though, I am a bit of my own worst nightmare and Monday was no exception. Normally, I teach a Spin class on Monday mornings, but our flight to Dulles was scheduled to depart a few minutes before noon, and my overly cautious wife told me that there was no way in Hades that I would be able to teach my 8:30 hour-long class at the YMCA, which is about 15 minutes away from our house, get home, shower, and make it into her pre-arranged 10:00 Uber.

I’ll wait while you do the math.

Yeah, I could have still taught my class. Sure, it would have been close, but in the end, I played the part of “good husband” and heeded my wife.


I’ll also let you ponder why we needed to leave three hours early for a domestic flight (we were flying to Washington first and then changing planes for the direct flight to Rome)–the ride to the airport is at most 45 minutes. But, being the good husband that I was trying to be, I let it pass.

Instead, I planned on getting on her Peloton bike (a subject for another post) for thirty minutes when she took the dog to the dog sitter at 8:30. That would leave me plenty of time to get in a decent workout, cool down, shower, and dress.

No problem.


My wife ended up getting on the Peloton and did not take the dog until about 9:00. I had not yet packed and instead of doing so, started watching the Tour de France. I eventually got on the Peloton at 9:15 (yes, I know: I should have watched the Tour while on the bike, thanks for pointing that out). I did a 30-minute ride (and kinda crushed it, I have to add), but that got me off the bike at around 9:50.

Sweating like pig (I am not entirely sure how much pigs sweat, but all the other metaphors that popped into my head were rather offensive, so…).

I opted for the coldest shower I’ve taken since my college days in Maine. To no avail: As soon as I dried off, I was once again soaked with sweat.

Sorry for the image.

I had no choice as I dressed in a flash and ran downstairs to get in the Uber just on time. Sweating. Profusely.

Again, sorry for the visual.

We made it to the airport and to the gate in plenty of time and the flight to Dulles was more or less uneventful. (I was sitting next to Nathan, my older son, though, who literally can’t sit still. Every time I dozed off–which rarely happens for me on a plane–he would fidget and bump into me, waking me up. That was a lot of fun.)

Once we got to Dulles, though, the fun started.

We loaded on the plane, as scheduled. I got comfy in my seat with a glass of horrendous Prosecco, and waited for take-off.

I also had a nifty Spiderman sleeping mask.

And waited.

And waited.

After about an hour of waiting, they told us to clear off the plane as there was a mechanical issue–something about the pilot’s oxygen mask.

Oh boy.

We returned to the gate and waited.

Nothing like 300 discontented passengers waiting for hours for a flight.

And waited.

Another two hours go by without any sort of update from the folks at the “Friendly Skies” until around 8:30 (our flight was scheduled to leave at 5:30), they told us we would be taking a different plane to Rome, and they moved us to another gate.

Where we waited.

And waited.

With no information whatsoever from United.

At about 10:00, they told us that the problem on the original plane had been fixed and sent us back where “boarding” had started. That word is in quotes since we did present our boarding passes and passports and went onto the jetway, but there we waited.

And waited.

For at least 30 minutes, standing on a hot jetway with no information whatsoever from the people who stole Rhapsody in Blue.

Well, all of them crammed into the jetway is kinda special.

Finally, I went back up the jetway and asked what the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks was going on. No one at the counter had any idea.

A few moments later, they pull us off the jetway and have us return to the boarding area.

Where we waited.

And waited.

Finally, at just before midnight, six-plus hours after our scheduled departure, they told us they were “delaying” the flight (specifically saying it was not “canceled”) until 7:00 p.m. the following day.

The room erupted into a series of shouts, screams, and scrambles to get in line for rebooking and, perhaps more importantly, hotel vouchers. I got on the phone and discovered that seemingly all hotels within a 20-mile radius were completely booked for some reason.

We also were told that we could get our suitcases, but that would take another hour or two. the suitcases that had all of our clothes and toiletries).

Eventually, we found a hotel in Fairfax, about a 20-30 minute drive away.

To put a little icing on our cake of a day, at the end of our Uber ride, it started to rain, and then it started to pour, and then it got downright Biblical. Our Uber driver pulled under the “awning” and I got out to grab the backpacks and computers.

And got drenched. To the point of having to wring out my clothes once we got into our room. At 2:00 a.m. Since they needed to dry, as I would be wearing them again the following day for the next attempt at getting to Rome.






About the drunken cyclist

I have been an occasional cycling tour guide in Europe for the past 20 years, visiting most of the wine regions of France. Through this "job" I developed a love for wine and the stories that often accompany the pulling of a cork. I live in Houston with my lovely wife and two wonderful sons.
This entry was posted in Travel, Wine. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to When Going to Rome…

  1. gosh! what a start! 😦


  2. Ed says:



  3. okiewinegirl2015 says:

    I’m having deja vu! Except it is with the now out of business, Praise God cause I cursed them to go out of business, Northwest Airlines. Stranded in Nashville, 4 kids under the age of 8 and no word on if or when the flight would resume. God does answer prayer. Hope Rome made up for the travel.


  4. dwdirwin says:

    What Ed said.


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