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The Award for Idiot of 2009 goes to…

December 28, 2009

After a wonderful Christmas Vacation weekend in Denton with the family, this afternoon I headed back home to the Capital District of New York.  I was flying from DFW to O’Hare for a 40 minute lay-over, followed by a flight back to Albany, schedule to land a few minutes after Midnight.  Perfect timing to get me back home in time to squeeze in six hours of snoozing before heading to the office.

I was sad to leave the family, and as usual, got a bit teary as I was saying goodbye.


After taking some family photos and saying goodbye, Dad drove me to the airport.  I was happy to arrive two hours before my scheduled take-off, checked my (beautiful new!) suitcase in, and headed through security. 

After picking up a grande soy toffeenut awake tea latte, I headed toward my gate.  The large departure screens all read that my flight was at gate E4.  When I first arrived at the gate, the screens at the gate read that my flight was at gate E4.  So, clearly, I settled near E4. 

I spent a bit of time falling in blogger-love with Windows Live Writer.  Laura had told me weeks ago that when I get a computer to look into Live writer, and I have heard a few other bloggers speak highly of it as well- but I NEVER could have imagined the wonderfulness that is Windows Live Writer.  So user friendly and easy to execute- and completely perfect for the pure fact that I have dozens of blogs in draft form saved in word.


I moved at least 10 of my drafts into writer as I waited near the gate, and started some detailed writing on a few others.  All seemed well and good as the clock ticked on.

At about ten until six, I shut down my computer and headed to stand with the giant mass of people preparing to board. I was in seating group two, and as I handed my ticket over, the United ticket taker read my seat number aloud as she scanned it, as another counter worker confirmed my seat number and marked it off on her computer screen.

As I worked my way down the hallway, I noticed a few things.  First of all, the plane was TINY.  As in, when I stood outside of the door on the platform, I was LITERARLLY taller than the plane.  Secondly, Everyone that had a rolly-carry-on-suitcase was given a green tag to check their luggage at the door.  The overhead bins were tiny.  I was VERY concerned with getting my large (beautiful red leather) weekender tote into the overhead compartment by itself, let alone with any other flyers’ bags.  I was nervous, and I continued to doubt my bag fitting for several minutes. 

The seat on my ticket read “09-A”, so when I saw an empty overhead compartment near row 6, I stuffed my bag in.  It took a few minutes of shifty and shaking and pushing and tugging, but it finally fit to the point of closing the door.  I continued down the very tiny row of the very tiny plane, and made my way to row 9. 

Imagine my surprise when a very friendly, approachable woman was sitting in seat 09-A.  [by the way twitter friends- remember the tweet about my prayer for a single, attractive, 26+ gentleman in seat 09-B?  this would be her very friendly, approachable son.] We showed one another our tickets and seat assignments and agreed that something was very wrong.  So I made my way to the back of the plane to speak to the flight attendant. [there were still MANY people trying to board this tiny plane, and getting back to the front was simply NOT an option.]

Heather: Hi. There seems to be a little problem.
Flight Attendant: Oh?
Heather: There are two of us with seat 09-A on our ticket.
(GIVE FLIGHT ATTENDANT TICKET- she looks at it, and hands it back to me)
Flight Attendant: Oh, No! Okay- this happens sometimes, lets just wait a few minutes as people board and then we will see if there is an empty seat.

People are boarding the very small plane. I am wearing my big puffy winter coat and carrying a large messenger bag.  The row of the airplane is TINY.  I keep knocking my bag and my ba-donk-a-donk into people. Every empty seat I move into to get out of someone’s way, is the next person in lines seat.  This continues for a few minutes.  The flight attendant asks for my ticket again.  I supply her with the ticket. She looks it over and gives it back to me. 

Heather: Does this happen often?
Flight Attendant: Not really. sometimes, but not too often.
Heather: I was really surprised because two people at the ticket counter verified my seat.  And clearly they had already verified the same seat for someone else, because she was already very much settled when I arrived on the plane. 
Flight Attendant: That is quite odd. Well, let’s see what we can do.

More shuffling. More moving out of people’s way just to be in the way for several people. Poor woman to my right has been hit in the head with my bag at least half a dozen times. I keep apologizing. She [thankfully] doesn’t seem to mind much.

As the last 6 or so people are making their way down the row:

Flight Attendant: ok. let me see that one more time.
Heather: here you are!
Flight Attendant: oh, sweetie………..are you trying to get to Chicago?
[giggling from people all around]
Heather: [beeeeep.] why, yes. Yes, I am.
Flight Attendant: we are going to Denver.
Heather: [blushing] Well, that explains it!  I am so sorry!
Flight Attendant: If you hurry, you may be able to catch them.
Heather: [beeeeep.]

As I try to scurry down the aisle toward the door before it closes, I am playing sardines in a can with the last few people making it onto the plane.  The last guy in the row and I actually EMBRACE in order for me to shimmy past, UNJAM my bag from the overhead compartment and race out of the plane, down the tarmac and back into the gate.

Let me tell you what happens when you come sprinting out of the tarmac just 90 seconds after the ticket counter checked in the last passenger. EVERYONE STARTS YELLING AT YOU. And as they are yelling, they don’t actually want to hear your reply to their questions or your pleas for help.  They just want to ask you repeatedly what you are doing off the plane and go on and on about a security breech.

Funny you mention that security breech, ladies who put me on the WRONG PLANE. Don’t get me wrong- I take all blame for getting on the wrong plane, but seriously? I know I was completely ignorant and foolish- but can we take a step back and just find a solution?

After said ladies explained that they made several announcements about the gate change [oops.] and after i pointed out that the screens at the gate had been showing a blue blank screen for over an hour [still not making excuses- am an idiot.] they pointed me in the right direction to board the Chicago flight- at E5.

So I hauled butt to the ticket counter of E5, where there were no United staff members in sight and that, ladies and gentlemen, is when the knot in my stomach really started to turn.  A minute or two later, the E5 ticket taker returned from the plane, informing me that the door had been shut and I was out of luck. [although, her words may have not been that friendly.]

Wow. And so I realized that I am a complete idiot and a bit of a fool. BUT- It has happened.  My boarding the wrong plane is the most embarrassing moment of 2009; it trumped the humiliation that is the broken engagement. [what a great way to end 2009, right?]

The next 90 minutes or so was spent at the ticket counter, on the phone with United, and checking in with my parents and my boss about when my new possible departure and arrival times.  And therefore explain several times that I was so concerned with my luggage, that I couldn’t bother to take note that I was boarding the wrong plane.

Finally, it was decided that I would be departing DFW at 12:53 PM on Monday, arriving in Albany at 8:11 PM- meaning I will be missing work tomorrow. Luckily, I have the best boss in the entire world, who totally understands my absent-mindedness and kept me calm when I called her apologizing behind teary eyes during my slight anxiety attack  filled situation.   

I have to admit, even though I feel REALLY badly about missing my flight, I am happy that if I was to spend the night anywhere, it is in Denton with my family. 

I still felt pretty stupid even after all the arrangements were made, so I decided to go on an Operation Beautiful posting spree. One of the best parts of Operation Beautiful is that each note posted not only benefits the readers, but also the writer.  Every time I post a note I leave feeling encouraged and ready to face whatever is thrown my way.  Those little post-its of truth and kindness are like insta-drug for the soul.

I knew I needed that insta-shot of goodness because I still felt like the biggest goof on the planet, so I got out my Operation Beautiful travel kit and made my way around the airport while I waited for my mom and sister to come and pick me up.

IMG00111 IMG00115

IMG00118 IMG00119 IMG00122 IMG00123

While I was posting the notes, Kelsey sent me a twitter message telling me to post on a note on her behalf, so I thought I would take a moment to spread the joy from her voice 😉


and while I was at it, I knew I may have needed a little reminder of my own, so I posted a note for myself on my computer-


Because the truth is, even though I was too oblivious to hear several announcements, walked on the wrong plane, hit a woman in the face with my bag several times, embraced a stranger, missed my flight, will be missing a day of work, and made both of my parents take unnecessary trips to the airport, I know that I am wonderful.  We are all wonderful. Even on days we really don’t feel like it.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Danielle permalink
    December 28, 2009 8:23 am

    Sorry that you missed your flight, although it’s a funny story (I can imagine one that was much less funny as it was happening). Another night with the fam will be lots of fun!

  2. December 28, 2009 9:20 am

    As a frequent travel I am always afraid that I would end up on the wrong flight in the wrong city and know I know what happens! So glad everything worked out.

  3. December 28, 2009 9:41 am

    Great post! Love the new blog! Could you please email me and tell me about purchasing your name domain and how you transferred your blog over? This is something I’d like to do in the New Year! Blessing to you in 2010!

  4. December 28, 2009 10:04 am

    Your new blog looks great! Nice work! I’m sure it’s easier with your new laptop and LiveWriter! I use LiveWriter when I use hubby’s and family’s PCs…it’s great! I wish they made it for Macs!

    Loved your Operation Beautiful postings on your trip…you go girl!

    🙂 Diana
    PS I’m having a new challenge – Eat in Month (for the month of January):—january-2010.html

  5. December 28, 2009 10:04 am

    Awesome notes! Do not be embarrassed about getting on the wrong flight – it is certainly something I would’ve done. 🙂

  6. abbynormally permalink
    December 28, 2009 10:10 am

    Happy to see this blog! It’s always a good thing to embrace those embarrassing situations and laugh at them. And I love that you took the entirely inconvenient situation and turned it into a way to bless others with the notes!!! You are beautiful!!

  7. December 28, 2009 10:49 am

    Something is very wrong with the security system if they let you on the plane! Don’t blame yourself so much — this just shows how messed up airport security is. Ugh!

  8. December 28, 2009 10:53 am

    Heck yes we are all wonderful! I love your operation beautiful post its.

    I can’t believe they let you on the WRONG flight. Sure, you should have listened for announcements, but didn’t a terrorist just try to light a bomb over detroit? Seems like the DFW flight attendants should be wayyyy more embarrassed than you.

  9. December 28, 2009 10:55 am

    You are wonderful!! I love your spirit, it’ll make a great story to tell your kids. 😉 But really, the fact thatt hey let you on the plane was their stinking fault. Knowing the gate changed, they should have been extra careful to make sure people got to where they were supposed to be. That’s just considerate service! 🙂 Don’t feel stupid, you are NOT stupid! You’re intelligent and beautiful. 🙂

  10. December 28, 2009 12:40 pm

    Yay! My note is awesome! Thank you for leaving it on my behalf! I’m so glad you didn’t get to Denver, and hope you come back to Denton soon!! Miss ya already!!

  11. Sis permalink
    December 28, 2009 1:39 pm

    Why did you cut dad out of the family photo?

  12. December 28, 2009 3:05 pm

    Dear, I love that you are the type of person who will post OB notes even when you’re having a bad day! Glad you got on the correct plane today 🙂

  13. December 29, 2009 8:21 pm

    In the end you made it home and you spread Operation Beautiful everywhere you went! I love the header you have up now.

  14. April 13, 2010 8:10 pm

    omg, what a day for you! I’m sorry I laughed in my response to you!! That seems like a lot of stress and anxiety…but maybe you can laugh at it now? I’ve done many stupid things in my time too 🙂

    Cute blog!

  15. November 22, 2010 1:17 pm

    Heather! This is quote possibly my favorite post from you! I am so glad that you included a link to it in your UnHealthy Living Summit Post. At first, I was so embarrassed for you. How horrible to have people on the Denver plane laugh at you and then to be treated rudely (I am sure. I HATE United!) by the UA personnel! Awful. But, in typical Heather fashion, you made something positive out of it! I LOVE the OB signs that you posted in the airport and I love that you used your unfortunate situation to make something positive for those people who would find your notes. You are fantastic. I do a lot of travelling for work and I will be travelling for Christmas. This reminds me that I need to be posting more notes because I have tons of opportunities. Thank yoU!


  1. I’ve Got a Feeling of Fairness « Then Heather Said
  2. Declaration of My Fabulous Independence « Then Heather Said
  3. Just Call Me Heather Kent « Then Heather Said
  4. It seems I lost 50 lbs Over Night « Then Heather Said
  5. When Travels are Extended « Then Heather Said
  6. Unhealthy Living Summit Part 1 « Then Heather Said

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