After a mostly sleepless night, I woke up at 3:30 this morning and left for DIA with fellow LetsGoDU writer Tim Thompson at 4:15. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to get through security. Though I was slowed down by one tired, incompetent traveler as I was trying to send my luggage through the scanner, I got through security without a hiccup.
I met Tim at our gate fifteen minutes before our scheduled boarding time and had a cup of coffee and a crepe (have you seen the renovations on Concourse C???). I ate the “Denver crepe,” a play on the Denver omelet, I drank my coffee, and I talked some hockey and lacrosse with Tim. Things were going swimmingly.
We boarded our plane at 5:55 (‘C’ group…ugh) and quickly found seats. I opened up my tablet, started listening to some music and read a textbook for one of my classes all the while thinking we were about to embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I wasn’t wrong.
At 6:20, ten minutes after we were supposed to begin taxiing toward the runway and take off for Nashville, our layover location, we were informed by a flight attendant that there was a problem with the engine and that they would have to keep the plane grounded for a few hours. Luckily, because we were flying Southwest, we weren’t left high and dry. They quickly found us a new plane at another gate. All passengers disembarked and quickly shuffled toward the new gate.
We arrived only to learn that we wouldn’t depart until 7:20, a full hour and ten minutes after we were originally scheduled to take off. What was most concerning to Tim and me was the fact that had we left on time, we would have had less than an hour to find our next gate in Nashville. All of that time and then some was eaten up by our delay in Denver.
After much confusion and a few attempts to get another flight booked, we decided to take the risk and hope that our pilot would push the aircraft’s limit and find a way to get us to Nashville in time to catch our connecting flight.
When we landed and looked at the video monitor, our hopes were immediately dashed. Our flight had left without us and the next flight wouldn’t land in Tampa until 6:30. All hopes of making it to Amalie Arena to watch DU’s practice and press conference seemed dead in the water.
As we were about to head toward a bar to drink our disappointment away, one of the gate agents spoke up and said that there was a flight to Orlando that was leaving within fifteen minutes. If we wanted to make it to Tampa in time, we could get on that flight and make the hour and 20-minute drive from Orlando in time for DU’s press conference.
We elected that option and it’s a good thing we did. We made one stop for a late lunch on the way, but we made it to Amalie Arena by 3:45, fifteen minutes before DU’s press conference was scheduled to begin. I was able to catch the press conference and do the job I came here to do.
Despite my exhaustion from having been up for almost 13 hours already today, I couldn’t be more excited or happy to be in Tampa for the Frozen Four.
As I’m sitting here in the media work area deep inside Amalie Arena, I can’t help but think of the quick thinking from the gate agent in Nashville to get us on that flight to Orlando. If it weren’t for her effective skills and willingness to help, I would likely still be sitting on a plane lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t have been able to report from Tampa today.
The trip wasn’t exactly how Tim and I foresaw it going, but we ended up where we were supposed to in time for the important part of the day. In the end, that’s really all we could ask for.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to go collapse and sleep until Boston College-Quinnipiac.