There was one provision of water being handed to each of us. This singular can of water went down quicker than a shot of the pink lemonade vodka we had swigged last night. Little kids with sweaty cherry cheeks clung to their parents’ pant legs trying to catch a crumb of shade. Basically, we, and the rest of the thousands of people in the line, were at the mercy of this airline to get back home.
Ooooh you came from Vegas?! I heard horror stories about that airport today. It was supposed to be the worst one. ~An airline attendant helping my friend locate her bag at the Atlanta Airport after having arrived from Vegas.
After an incredible Bachelorette vacation for a good friend of mine in Vegas, the last thing I expected to encounter before “leaving Las Vegas” was an airline disaster. It was unfathomable. As soon as the taxi driver dropped us off, we knew something was significantly wrong. People were standing in a long line outside of the Southwest Airlines airport entrance. There were yellow barricades like mean stalky Minions denying us entry into the airport. A man that looked somewhat official shouted at us to get in the line because all check-ins were being completed manually. The Southwest Airlines computer system was down across the nation. Even the website was stalled.
It was hot, but at least (for the first ten minutes) we were in the shade. I estimated in my head that it would take no longer than getting through a long line at Disney world for Space Mountain. I underestimated. Above all the blurry and loud commotion, I heard, “The line goes all the way around the building!” We assumed it was an exaggeration from an obnoxious and dramatic joker…little did we know how wrong we were and how right he was. The line not only went around the building, it stretched out to the expressway.
There was no shade. Cars zoomed by us like smoking comets. Just above the asphalt danced the strange visual distortion that arises in the heat. We lugged our bags with us slowly, sweating our asses off–literally–in the middle of the desert.
Like I said, unfathomable. I felt dizzy, thirsty, too stunned to think logically. Halfway down the stretch one of the girls in our group opened her suitcase and changed from her black jeans to a cool dress in the middle of the line. “It’s like Woodstock,” I joked. No one looked at her shockingly; in this context, everyone looked at her admiringly. It was a smart move. My pleather pants stuck to my skin like steaming clingwrap . Another bridesmaid worried that she wouldn’t make it home to see her kids until the next day.
The frustration was insurmountable. No Southwest employees were around to offer updates or answer questions, nor were there any Airport attendants checking on the physical states of the people waiting. I worried for the elderly, the children and the people who perhaps had skipped breakfast to make it to the airport on time. Rumor told us that the only way to reschedule a flight with Southwest, to get refunded or given any vouchers (we didn’t know for certain) was to wait in the long line. Not only were people overheating, missing their flights and encountering long delays, the promise of a refund was contingent upon this torture in the desert. How was I going to survive this? I was hungover, parched and sleepy.
Inevitably, we did make it home, not without being sneaky, sprinting across the airport and hustling attendants (I won’t get into details, but I will say our bride-to-be is a genius). I made it to work today exhausted, not from a hangover which most would expect after a trip to Vegas, but exhausted from being herded around an airport submissively like cattle headed for their dooms.
I have no idea what happened to Southwest’s tech systems yesterday. No one clearly conveyed to flyers what had happened, what was going on or what would happen. Airline representatives have not said what caused the “technology issues,” which affected the airline’s mobile app, website and reservation centers, explains NBC news. Tell me something I don’t know.
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