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Day 4

September 11, 2000
Washington, DC - Federal Way (Seattle), WA
18 miles

After having been awakened at 2am by some kind of alarm/pa system ("you may now resume your normal activities", it said. Made us feel like we had missed the first announcement ...), we already suspected that it was going to be quite an adventurous day.

At 8am, we were downstairs in the hotel lobby waiting for the airport shuttle that was supposed to pick us up at that time. But there was no shuttle. Well, well... So much for that idea. We decided to wait a little longer and around half an hour later, a shuttle bus did appear and agreed to take us to Ronald Reagan Airport (never heard of it? It used to be simply called "National Airport"). As it turned out, that particular shuttle wasn't supposed to leave before 9am...

Having checked-in at the airport, we had some coffee and went to the gate to look out for the airplane that was going to take us to Chicago. Well, there was no airplane. They announced that it was at the hangar while some repairs were being made on it. Oookey ... Needless to say, there was going to be a short delay.

After a while, the airplane came and they let us board and take our seats. The delay wasn't too bad, we taxied back from our gate not too long after the scheduled departure time. Just in front of the runway, the plane stopped and we waited a bit. Then the captain came on and told us that we had to go back to the gate because the mechanics had forgotten to sign off on the repairs they had made. So we did that, taxied back to the gate, then to the runway again and finally took off.

The flight to Chicago was uneventful from then on, we landed maybe an hour late and were worried about our connecting flight. Normally it would have left already, but a lot of flights out of Chicago were delayed, so we hurried across the Terminal and did indeed catch the other plane. Everybody was waiting and as soon as all the passengers were on board (there were other people from our flight), the plane left the gate and taxied towards the runway, where a long line of other planes waiting to take off was already visible.

We took our place in the line and slowly went forward, minute after minute. Maybe twenty minutes later, the captain announced that due to the weather, the airport had been "reconfigured" and we had to use a different runway. So we taxied across half the airport (and O'Hare is a biiig airport) and formed up another line ... Again twenty minutes or so later, the pilot said that now all the runways had been closed and no airplanes were taking off, because of a big thunderstorm approaching the airport. We were to taxi to a holding area and wait there. That's what we did, for maybe two hours ...

Fortunately, we did not have to go back to the gate for more fuel, as other airplanes around us did. After the storm was over, we were actually the first plane to take off from the newly reopened runway and finally make our way towards Seattle, our destination.

The weather got better all the time and the approach to Seattle showed us the area around the city in all its beauty. After landing at the airport, we claimed our rental car and drove towards Tacoma, looking for a motel to spend the night. We finally stopped at a Comfort Inn in Federal Way.

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