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Doing an extended stay at the airport - Curt Yeomans

Let me start this off by saying that the Westchester County Airport, in White Plains, NY, is the last place at which you ever want to get stuck.

I had the misfortune of learning this fact first-hand last week, while returning from vacation. It was the Fourth of July, and I was hoping to get back to Atlanta by 8:30 p.m.

Of course, Mother Nature and her endless desire to (these days at least) drop buckets and buckets of rain on Atlanta caused my plans to change. I spent two hours sitting in a very camped waiting area at the gate.

They really didn't have enough seats for all of the gates that they have at the airport. People were almost standing on each other. There was only one counter you could go to, to buy meals, deserts and drinks. There were wi-fi Internet modules all over the seating area, but very few places to actually plug in your laptop, so you could access the Internet (in case your computer battery was weak, as mine is).

It was horrible.

So, after two hours of THAT experience, we boarded the plane, and it pulled away from the gate. We started to taxi towards the runway, and then the captain came on the intercom, and announced that because of bad weather in Atlanta, we were not cleared for take-off. We had to wait on the plane to be cleared for take-off, which turned into another two-hour wait.

I did see Fourth of July fireworks -- through the window of the person sitting across the aisle from me on the plane.

Mind you, I was NOT flying on Delta, as I usually do. I won't name which airline I was on this particular time (hint: It was one of those budget airlines), but let us just say it was not up to the standards I was used to. The floor was dirty. The earphone jack in the seat arm was messed up, so the slightest move could cause you to lose much of the volume (probably at least 90 percent of the volume would suddenly be lost).

The only good thing about the second wait was that I was sitting in business class, so the alcohol was flowing (and boy, did it flow). It was flowing so much before we left the ground, in fact, the flight attendants ran out of wine to serve us halfway through the flight.

I found out as we were waiting to take off, from a passenger sitting in the economy class section, that in the two hours we were on the ground that the economy folks only got one half-cup of water during the entire time we were on the ground. Then, the flight attendants didn't have any water (hot, or cold) during the flight to make coffee or tea during the flight.

Really? How do you not have enough water? All you used during the delay were big bottles of Dasani bottled water (and that's just cold water). Did you just not prepare for the possibility of delays?

Now, back to the alcohol, specifically the wine. As I said earlier, they ran out of wine by halfway through the flight. As the flight attendant put it to me when I asked for a white wine, all they had left at that point was beer and hard liquor.

I went for the hard liquor. It was already 11:30 p.m., and it was still a long way to home.

Curt Yeomans covers government for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.