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Delayed Departure

Eva Binda | Tuesday, February 20, 2007

It’s a Sunday night (technically early Monday morning) as I sit here writing. I’m sitting at a desk in my room at the Detroit Airport Days Inn. My luxurious surroundings include walls with peeling paint and a leaky toilet. I can hear sounds from HBO’s “Rome” in the background. I didn’t realize the Romans cursed so much.

Anyway … why am I here? Well, I guess the story begins a couple of days ago.

I had a bad feeling. My flight was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon. I was going home. I thought I should be more excited, but instead all I could think about was a Monday afternoon Theology exam (and 20 percent of my grade) looming in the distance.

Needless to say, I did not leave South Bend at 1:30 p.m. Instead my fate consisted of delayed flights, a rebooking with another airline and a canceled flight before I finally arrived in Baltimore at 10 p.m. From there it was a short drive to my home city of Washington, D.C.

I could barely enjoy the weekend before it was Sunday evening and time to head back to the airport.

Once I arrived, I got through security easily enough. Despite the fact the monitor proudly displayed On Time at my gate, we were delayed in D.C. for an hour. There goes my one hour layover in Detroit…

I was off the plane in Detroit at 10:40 p.m. My flight to South Bend left the gate at 10:30 p.m. I was alone and spending the night in Detroit.

Just as I was about to sit down and have a good cry, I spotted a girl at the gate counter talking about South Bend. I immediately went up to her and introduced myself. Her name was Laura.

Just knowing someone else was in my situation and I suddenly wasn’t alone in the world calmed me down. We walked together through the airport and swapped weekend horror stories.

We arrived at ticket counter to get rebooked. I went first to an agent who said she would put me on a flight to South Bend via Cincinnati in the morning. Soon another agent showed up who helped Laura.

“Try to get her on the same flight,” said my ticket agent.

As it ended up, Laura’s agent must have been faster because she was booked on the flight and I wasn’t.

My ticket agent attempted to whisper to the other agent, “I don’t have any more availability.”

I was too numb to be upset. Instead I witnessed one of the nicest things a stranger has ever tried to do for me. Laura pleaded with the agent to cancel her booking so that I could have it. When she was told it wouldn’t work, she asked if my name could be put on the ticket instead.

I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t even know me. Despite the reality that we had arrived at the counter together and she had as much right to be first as me, she was genuinely sorry about getting the ticket.

Not only did she attempt to give me her seat, but she did this after being told all flights to South Bend were fully booked for the next day.

But it all ended up working out. Somehow the agent found a seat for me on a direct flight to South Bend at 12:05 p.m. the next day and Laura kept her reservation. Within an hour, we were on a shuttle to a hotel and the next day, we both returned to Notre Dame.