The Long Awaited Travel Anecdote, Part 2

Lunch in Denver

When I left you yesterday I was just arriving at security in the Salt Lake City International Airport on Christmas Eve, 2010.

I had heard a lot about the issues with the full body scanners, but after reading this post by Sarah Knicks, a friend and fellow blogger, I wasn’t afraid to step into the scanners if I saw the words “L3 ProVision” written on them.

I walked through the metal detector holding my pump in my hand. They always try to tell me I have to put it through the X-ray machine before I tell them it’s an insulin pump, so I usually just say, “insulin pump” as soon as the TSA agent looks at me.

This was a busy day at SLC International, being Christmas Even and all. The agent kind of freaked out and started calling a bunch of people on his radio. “Insulin pump, what do we do?” “Do you know what we do with insulin pumps?” I tried to explain that I could go through the scanner, because of the brand it was, but they did not want me to, for fear of getting sued I imagine. Finally, even though I had walked through the metal detector without setting it off, they decided the standard operating procedure was to go ahead with the pat down.

It actually wasn’t that bad. Uncomfortable, yes. Awkward, yes. A little invasive, absolutely. But the woman was positive and making holiday small talk with me, so it wasn’t that awkward. Plus, I was prepared and aware that this might happen.

This whole process took less than 20 minutes. I was on my way to my gate. I had to stop and pick up a diet coke, a magazine, and some gum, my standard flying necessities. After that, I actually had about 30 minutes to wait before we began boarding!

I went ahead and gate checked my bag because I’m just that cool. Plus, I got to board early for doing so, and since I had a window seat I thought that would be just fine.

While I was sitting and waiting to board, I heard over and over on the news channel that blares on all of the televisions in airports that an airplane had skidded off the runway in Jackson Hole, WY. I knew that the storm we had just experienced was headed for the midwest. This was not comforting.

Wacky Guy wearing antlers at the Frontier podium in Denver

I got to Denver without incident, except declining the Frontier Airlines cookie (formally the Midwest cookie) because of high blood sugar and nausea, I assume because of stress. When I got to the airport I had a delicious salad with fries and started my three hour wait for my next flight. Again, seeing on those hundreds of TVs that an airplane had skidded off the runway in Jackson Hole.

Finally, my flight for St. Louis took off. I sat next to a nice woman who never asked about why I had electronics on during the “Please turn off your electronics” phase (read: pump and CGMS were sitting on my lap). Once we got to the St. Louis area, we could not see any lights on the ground. We were told we were beginning or descent, and we still could not see any lights on the ground. We heard the landing gear release, and we still could not see any lights on the ground. Finally, no more than 1000 feet above the ground, we saw the lights and the runway. Covered. In. Snow.

It happened very quickly, the mental freak out and the grabbing of the armrests with all  my might and the nervousness and the fear that came after hearing about a silly plane that skidded off another runway all day while landing on a snow covered runway. My mind did not have time to work out the logical explanations in my hed: If this was dangerous, we wouldn’t have taken off in the first place, this plane is very heavy and will come to a stop, ect. All I could think about was that plane on the airport news channel. But almost before it had begun, we had slowed down and were taxiing to the gate.

I turned on my phone and texted my mom. It turned out they had just gotten to the airport, meaning their three hour drive had turned into a five hour drive due to snow. “Great.” I thought.

Remember how I had gate checked my bag? Well, Frontier doesn’t bring them back up to the jetway like other airlines do. They make you go to baggage claim at your destination. We waited forever for baggage claim. My plane had landed at 5:45 and we left the airport closer to 7. We actually did make it home by the 11:00 service. Waiting for my bag had given the snow just long enough to move out of the area, and since we were driving west and the storm was moving east, our drive was relatively uneventful.

So yes, I made it home for Christmas. But the story doesn’t end there. I still had to make it back to Utah! Tune in next week!

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