Spring Break is theoretically supposed to be an enjoyable, fun, relaxing experience. While my visit home to the sunny South was pleasant, the ordeals I went through traveling were anything but a good time. It was just bad luck that my initial connecting flight to Pittsburgh the first Saturday of break was cancelled because of mechanical issues, and because everything was booked due to spring break, I had to stay overnight in Syracuse. Naturally, the next day I was also randomly searched when I finally did manage to get a flight out of New York. I laughed my delay off, because everyone occasionally is going to encounter annoying setbacks to their travel plans. However, flying especially can be unpredictable, and attempting to return to Colgate aptly demonstrated this notion.
Inclement weather triggered flight cancellations throughout the Northeast on Friday, March 16 and the rest of the weekend, leaving thousands of travelers scrambling to reorganize their travel plans. The massive backlog of passengers being resituated rapidly filled up already mostly full flights, as March is traditionally a busy travel month because of colleges going on spring break; airports stayed full of people waiting to reach their final destination, three and four days later than originally anticipated.
I wasn’t the only Colgate student who went through tremendous hassles trying to get back to school; students were stuck, stranded and on standby everywhere from Atlanta, Georgia to Los Angeles, California and from Charlotte, North Carolina to Madrid, Spain.
At first glance, having a few extra days off doesn’t seem like too bad a deal. However, when people have classes, midterms, work, meetings and various other obligations to which they must attend, standing in long lines inside hectic airports dealing with repeated flight cancellations, trying to rebook itineraries with over-worked attendants who may or may not know how to use the computer systems, malfunctioning ticketing and baggage check kiosks and generally disagreeable people frustrated because their travel plans are being disrupted, the appeal of a few extra hours sunbathing on the beach begins to wane.
Over the last ten days, I have witnessed both extreme inefficiency and wonderful competency while in and out of airports and airplanes. I think I value coherent airport organizational skills more now, having seen congested lines in chaos and disgruntled passengers screaming at attendants and swearing never to use their airline again.
Experiencing so many difficulties just traveling alone, I can’t imagine what families trying to fly together went through last weekend. Not to mention the workers trying to handle the overflow in an efficient manner while remaining calm, though the efforts and the efficiency definitely seemed to have mixed results.
After complicated journeys on both ends of my extremely relaxing, low-stress break, I got back to campus on Tuesday night, over four full days after I was supposed to arrive. Ironically, when I made it back to the Syracuse airport, I ran into fellow Colgate first-year Uzoma Idah, a friend of mine who I’d also seen on the day of our initial departure. We traded travel horror stories, having been stuck in Atlanta and L.A., respectively. By now, almost all of our friends have returned from being scattered around the country; we appeared to be in one of the final groups of students straggling back to campus. And even though now it’s back to the regular rigorous Colgate workload, given what I went through traveling over break, I can’t say I feel overwhelmed. I mean, after all, I did make it through being delayed a total of 120 hours, sections of which were spent in airport hell. I didn’t yell at anyone, I didn’t cry, and I don’t think I’ve gone through a mental breakdown yet. The one thing I did decide is that spring break next year needs to involve less time in the air.
Perhaps I will go on a cruise.