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2008 HITS Ocala Day 1 – Travel

What a day..we left our house at 7:30 am to the sounds of sleet hitting the house. We had about 3 inches of snow on the ground. As we drove north to Hartford’s Bradley Airport, the roads were fine, but we heard on the radio the airport was closed until 9:30 am to clean the runaway. No problem we thought – our flight is suppose to leave at 10:30 am and Southwest brings their flights in 10 minutes before, so we should be fine.

DOT Truck

We arrived at the airport to controlled chaos, as no flights had left all morning. Our departure time kept changing and around noon they announced an Orlando flight would be leaving out of our gate. So all the Orlando passengers got into Southwest’s crazy line up and after about 30 minutes the perky Southwest Gate Attendant announced “oops – did I say Orlando, I meant Tampa!” That was our flight. So all the Orlando folk sat back down and it was it our turn to line up.

To be fair to the Southwest personal they did a fantastic job maintaining order and calm with virtually no information. I watched one Southwest employee work the gate counter for 4 hours without a break – people yelling and screaming at him and he calmly solved their problems. So kudos to Southwest’s Gate 4 Team!

The last time I flew Southwest it was simple A, B, C – now they have added numbers – we were number A24 and A25. I soon discovered having numbers less than A30 was ideal, as they board A1-30 first, then board all the families with kids under 4. Why they do this I have no idea – but with everything at Southwest – you just smile and eat your peanuts.

Number A24

Number A25 – happy to be boarding!

We finally got on the plane and then sat for an hour as they tried to load all the bags. Finally we took off around 2:30 pm and landed in Tampa at 5:30pm. As we landed we looked out the window and it was raining! We can’t win….

I won’t bore you with the details of getting to Ocala, but we made it around 8:30 pm, over 12 hours after we started and are now settled in at the new Marriott Residence Inn. (Which is really nice!).

Tomorrow we ride, bath and get ready to show on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I’m hoping one of those days we’ll see the sun!

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