Day 1 – travel from Denver to Seattle to Anchorage
Once I booked my Alaska tour and the trip had enough people registered to be locked in, it was time to think about airfare. I knew it was a long trip and would be expensive, but I didn’t know just HOW expensive! I finally settled on a flight with a layover each way to make it more affordable for me. As I was heading for the Denver airport, a text came in that my flight was now leaving 30 minutes later than scheduled. My layover was only 60 minutes in Seattle. Gulp. I started to question my choices in saving money on the flight. As we sat on the runway in Denver, an announcement from the pilot: there was too much traffic coming into Seattle and we were going to delay our takeoff another 20 minutes. Oh boy, 10 minute layover now! Yikes!
I tried to put all of this out of my mind and just relax for the flight. Nothing I can do anyway, right? I can’t fly that plane and the pilots were doing the best they could to get us to Seattle safely. As we started to prepare for landing in Seattle, the woman across the aisle from me asked the flight attendant about connecting flights. It turns out she was on the same flight I was scheduled on into Anchorage. What annoyed and amused me about their conversation was the passenger asking if the connecting flight would be held since we had left late and then been delayed again. The flight attendant looked at her and said of course not, it’s not OUR fault. Now wait just a moment here! I could only shake my head at that.
Upon leaving the plane, we found there was no airline representative waiting for us in Seattle. The lady across the aisle looked at me and said is that good or bad? I had to assume it was a good sign that we were not all rebooked. Regardless, my suggestion was we make a run for the next flight and cross our fingers. Within minutes there were 10 of us from the Denver flight sprinting to the next gate. I was surprised to find the flight there and the door still open when we arrived despite it being only about 1 minute to the scheduled take off. As more and more passengers came on the plane, I learned there were at least 25 people on the flight from Denver that were on the same flight to Anchorage as me. Ahhh, now that is enough people to make an airline hold a flight!
I was so grateful to be on the ground safely in Anchorage, but it was nearly 3 AM in my time zone. I had been awake for 21 hours and I was feeling every minute of that. I guess the chaos of the day had finally caught up with me because I found it nearly impossible to sleep on either flight. Luckily my suitcase came quickly and I called the hotel shuttle for a pick up. A few minutes later, there was the shuttle and I was on my way. Oh, but you knew it couldn’t be that easy, right?
The shuttle brought us to the hotel and I remember thinking hmmm, this isn’t quite what I was expecting for the big pile of money I paid. Then I chided myself for being so judgmental and decided to just get some sleep. Except the front desk had no record of a reservation for me! A few more questions and we realized that I was at the wrong hotel!! Aggghhhhh! The “correct” hotel has a similar name and was just a short drive away. The very patient shuttle driver assured me this happens all the time and she insisted on driving me to my actual hotel. In my sleepy brain I was eternally grateful for her kindness because I’m not sure I could have navigated those streets on my own at that point.
Once I had my room key at the correct hotel I vaguely remember dragging my suitcase in the door, texting the group that I had arrived and that was it, I was asleep at last. The real adventure would begin the very next morning!