When I wrote part 1 of this story, I did not know that part 2 existed. I thought my $200 travel voucher to stay four extra hours in Billings was a fair price for airline overbooking. So when the next flight developed the same overbooking problem and the price went up to $400 in travel vouchers, I thought I should call home and see if the "team" wanted me to volunteer.
You see, while our hotel fees and meals are covered for the ATF tour, our airfare is not. Our book sales help with the costs, but we are nowhere near breaking even on the deal. So after our $1200 bumping escapade of last weekend and our $200 this morning, I began to see a potential pattern emerging. Maybe God has creative ways to fund mission trips??
Nathan answered my call while I was inquiring at the gate. I told him I would be getting in at midnight on the new flight arrangements if I took their deal. He said, "Take it, Mom! A couple of us will come up and help you drive home." Since he handles the expense report, I turned to the agent and said, "I volunteer my seat."
She was very grateful as her passengers had been getting a little testy. (After a day at her gate, I decided I would not ever want this poor girl's job. Informing bumped passengers is messy!) But then I heard her groan over her computer. The later flight she was going to book me on was now closed. And that was the last flight of the day.
"Thanks for volunteering, ma’am, but we better just get you home." She said.
Since no one was mentioning any hotel accommodations in the deal, I figured I better just agree with her and give up the idea. So I picked up my carry-on and headed quickly down the hallway to the plane.
Just as I was fastening my seat belt, I heard a new commotion at the front. Attendants were in a huddle and soon over the loud-speaker the passengers were advised.
"We have just received word that due to weather conditions we must remove some weight from this plane. Four of you will need to deplane. I am looking for volunteers before we just have to randomly select passengers who will be redirected. Rest assured the plane will not depart until four passengers deplane. Our offer today is $200...(and then another conference occurred)....make that $400. Do we have volunteers? "
Two men immediately hopped to their feet. My mind went in a whirl. If Doug were here, what would he do? If Nate were here, what would he want me to do?
And my hand shot up like a school girl in a class of high school students. "Ma’am, can I get a hotel voucher with that, too?"
"Why, yes! Thank you ma’am for volunteering!"
I was somewhat of a plane hero as the passengers thanked me as I walked back down the aisle.
This is crazy, I thought. Is God paying for my tickets by parking me in random hotels from coast to coast?
I was so deep in thought about my new decision that I did not pay a bit of attention to what the other deplaners were doing. I simply walked back up to the gate and watched them close their big door. Only to realize the step that I missed. All the other passengers retrieved their gate-checked carry-ons. All but me.
Looks like my laptop, my Bible, and my purse and I were going to have a nice hotel stay.
They put me back in the same Crowne Plaza Hotel I had just checked out of eight hours earlier. When the same driver who had shuttled me here at 6 a.m. arrived to take me back to the hotel, he did a double take. He didn't need a tip for my bags this time!
I decided an adventure to Target was in order to make my stay a bit more comfortable. I don't think my personality fits well with taxi cabs. Those folks operate on their own time zone. And waiting is not one of my best virtues.
Maybe that's another reason God arranged a layover for me in Billings. Character building. I enjoyed my meal overlooking the city at the hotel 20th floor restaurant. But I sure am lonely!
Will this story have a part 3? Only time...and Delta airlines, will tell!
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