The Hatfield and where’s the real McCoy?
Sunday August 03rd 2014, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

We knew returning the rental car would take extra time, but my brother-in-law added the warning that Sunday evening is when all the businessmen are heading out. So we gave ourselves leeway for that, too. (He added that he didn’t know about rental cars because of course he’d never had to use one in his home city.)

There were stop-and-go backups on the freeway around downtown. On a Sunday in the middle of the afternoon. Who knew. The ETA on the GPS kept getting longer rather than shorter.

Dear Atlanta: please note that when you have two separate highway exits for rental car return north terminal and south terminal your average tourist will have no idea and their tickets will say nothing about separate terminals and your signs do not say which airlines are served by which. In or out of the airport they will not know where they are supposed to go. Turned out there was only one rental car area (I think), but the train from there was a complete mystery.

I turned the cellphone back on and googled from what we hoped was the right train–on our second time around.

The train made verbal announcements that were utterly useless to the hearing impaired. There was nothing written anywhere, not in the station, not near the train, not on the train, not when you get off the train (unless you step off because everybody else does and go far enough forward to find, at long last, a sign), there were no personnel around to ask. Only Google was my friend. (Was this a Bible belt Sabbath-day thing? I actually prefer not to travel on Sunday myself and not to make people have to work on my behalf on that day but sometimes you just really don’t have a choice.)

Dear Atlanta: when you are the busiest airport in the country, having a TSA line serving a few (and it was only a few) businessmen and one. single. TSA. agent. trying to process the several hundred increasingly antsy people in line–and five agents are standing around, one looking busy but the others simply chatting and laughing and having a fine old time till a flier finally desperately nicely asks them (it was the guy behind me) “Could you possibly open another line?”

Don’t tell them no. Open the line, okay?

They told him flat-out no. And after that chokepoint there was only one scanning line as well.

We had checked in everything but Richard’s backpack and my purse and finally asked the people ahead of us, with it visually clear that we were not going to hold them up by messing with our luggage, Would they mind, could we go ahead? We were about to miss our flight.

Now, on our way into Atlanta on Wednesday, we found that there was another train that was running from our terminal to baggage claim–and nobody was running that train. It sat. Thousands of people gave up and walked, dodging latecomers running at us playing rollaboard derby. It was not a wide hallway. I have never seen anything quite like it.

We’d been walking quite some way when an airport employee stood at one point in the forever hallway to announce that it was a 12 minute walk to baggage claim from that point and that the train would be there in half a minute.

She repeated that over several minutes as no train came.

At last one did open its doors and loaded disbelieving people and did what it was supposed to do.

So we had visions of no train in the terminal again and a real good idea of how long a walk that was.

The entire TSA-impaired line graciously motioned us forward. We thanked each person as they nodded and said yes and we continued on past them towards the scanner area.

And then an agent hauled Richard aside and said she wanted to check his backpack–too many electronics in there.

Please??? Our plane’s already boarding, see, it says 4:15 on the pass….

She apologized and moved as fast as she humanly could. She had to have been tired. That line was horrendous and nobody was backing her up either.

I asked Richard to pack slip-on Birkenstocks for the next time he had to put his shoes back on at an airport as we ran.

The new train did what it was supposed to. (I narrowly managed to keep him from getting on one going the opposite direction again.)

Gate 20 noIreadthatwrongsorryit’s10keepgoing! as we ran.

The stewardess was talking to someone while somehow draping herself across three seats at the front of the plane, relaxed, and when she saw that really tall guy coming in, stepped aside and offered the seat to him and then motioned me over too. Given that his knees do not go behind airplane seats in front of him, they just don’t, this was huge: we got the bulkhead!

I’m typing while a load of laundry is washing away so that he can go to work with socks and underwear in the morning.

Atlanta (other than that) was beautiful, wonderful, our nephew found himself a bride that–well, she reminded me of the tease my son’s mother-in-law gave all of ourselves when she said, You know it’s a good match when both families feel like they’re getting the better end of the deal.

Yup. We all are. Holly’s a peach.

Richard and I stayed at my sister’s. She invited us to come a few days early and just hang out and visit and see the sights with her and her husband and play with her twin grandbabies and finally get to meet her daughter-in-law. I’m so glad we went.

And next time we’ll know how to get around Hatfield Airport.

7 Comments so far
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I hate airplane travel! It always takes a great trip and turns it into a miserable nightmare! If I can’t drive to my destination I just don’t go anymore.

Comment by Jody 08.04.14 @ 4:20 am

Sorry about the airport. Glad you had a great time otherwise.

What I find is that, when things work out so that I have a reasonable number of customers, I move right along. I do want to help.

On the other hand, when there are clearly way too many customers, it gets to feel like swimming in one of those endless pools. Happily it doesn’t feel as though I’m swimming in an endless pool often.

Comment by RobinM 08.04.14 @ 8:39 am

Did I tell you my brother’s family and my parents now live in Hotlanta? It’s been a change from rural Penna and calm Kansas, that’s for sure!

Comment by LynnM 08.04.14 @ 11:09 am

Next time you check in to an airport or get off a plane, specify you need a wheelchair (which considering your health you are entitled to do)I. Your Atlanta sister insists that I do this now, and it makes a difference in how you are treated. I didn’t use a chair when your mother and I arrived in Atlanta last month, and we were bewildered. Anne went with us when we left Atlanta, and she insisted I have one. The wheelchair attendant knew exactly what to do, and we didn’t have to be bewildered.
I think you should copy your email to the Atlanta airport top management. And maybe to the Feds. Problems like this will never be solved until there is public outcry.

Comment by Dad 08.04.14 @ 11:35 am

Just popping back to see further comments. Your Dad is a really smart guy! I hope you follow his suggestions.

Comment by LynnM 08.04.14 @ 1:34 pm

It’s so obvious, you probably intended it – your new niece-in-law is a Georgia peach, right?

And I’ve never been as frustrated at an airport as I’ve been in Atlanta. I’m so glad you made it through there in one piece.

Comment by twinsetellen 08.04.14 @ 7:59 pm

In answer to Dad, I didn’t need it this time, but as far as I could tell there was no wheelchair assistance available whatsoever from the car rental area to the terminal–and since the train connecting them went over the freeway, it was a very long way to go and not taking the train was not an option and if you needed that chair oh well. Getting off that train put you at baggage claim, where you didn’t need one either because your trip was all done by then, right?

Comment by AlisonH 08.04.14 @ 9:25 pm

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