AT  D-2: Thursday April 6, 2023
Houston to Atlanta

With so many flights out of Houston affected by the bad weather we had quite a bit of company inside the terminal.

It was past 2am when we finished rebooking our flight, and the terminal fell quite for a few hours. Being in these huge cavernous buildings, which usually hum with thousands of passengers rushing through, always feels eerie in these twilight hours. 

We found a flat spot to stretch out on the ground and despite our bodies aching with lack of sleep and fatigue, it was cold and sleep did not come easily.   As we couldn’t sleep we went for a walk through the terminal.  

Magnificent copper exhaust on this Texan BBQ diner in Terminal E – Houston Airport

It was almost 5am and  none of the shops were open but the United Airlines help desk was staffed and had a few people standing in line. As we couldn’t see our out-going flight to Dallas listed on the departures board we lined up at the help desk.  I had this dreadful feeling that if the 2.30pm flight to Dallas  was also cancelled, we could be stuck here for maybe even longer then 24 hours.  We also had a very optimistic glimmer of  hope that maybe we could get on a standby list for an earlier flight to Dallas. It was worth a try as we have given up any hope of getting a direct connection to Atlanta.

We were seen by a super friendly and efficient United Airlines  ground staff member. She checked our booking and seeing that our trip originated in Sydney she worked some miracles and presto she issued us new boarding passes for – a direct  flight to Atlanta leaving at 7.30 am this morning. She then went one better by putting a trace on our luggage in their internal luggage tracking system,  to make sure our luggage is located and placed on the same flight.  It was above what we had hoped for. Yes, there are angels in this  world and we got so, so lucky to have met one last night and then another this morning.

As inconvenient as travel delays are, the behind the scenes logistics of airlines recovering from this type of weather related disruption is mind-boggling.  I couldn’t believe that people were getting so angry last night, as if the airline staff are responsible for the weather.  The family standing in line in front us had just arrived by Uber (!) from Dallas (where they got stuck yesterday). You do what you can to make things work. We left the customer help counter with huge smiles on our faces. 

The pilots and cabin crew were ready, just waiting for a plane to arrive.

While waiting at the departure gate, we recognised some faces from last nights cancelled flight. For a little while we were holding our breath as there was a slight delay to the incoming flight. But by 8.30am we were boarding a plane and were on our way to our final destination, Atlanta.  As the plane taxied for take off, we let out a sigh of relief. Goodby to Houston (airport), it has been memorable.

We were hoping to spot our luggage while boarding
Yes its real, we made it

It was only a short two-hour flight to Atlanta and by lunchtime, we and our luggage, had arrived and we were checking into our hotel – finally. Only 18 hours later then we had planned. It was the most beautiful feeling: a shower, clean sheets and a comfortable bed.  And in no time,  we were out like a light. 

Super efficient and smooth ride on the light rail from Atlanta airport to town

On our way to Atlanta this morning we had decided to push back our start on the AT. This will give us a bit more time to recover from the marathon flight and also a chance to see a bit of Atlanta.

After a  few hours of surreal sleep  we went out for a walk. It was late afternoon, the sun was shining, it was warm and very humid.   I’ll save describing our first impression of Atlanta for tomorrow’s post as we’ll have more time to look around.

We are staying in the downtown hotel district,  very convenient as it is within walking distance of stores and the subway.  We did some grocery shopping for the first four days of the hike, found an AT&T store to get a local phone number and we are now set.