Friday, May 8, 2015

Running to Fly

My sister had a research project in South Dakota the last week in April.  Since my schedule was open...I was able to join her.  We had fun sister time and visited places I had never seen in the other times I had been in South Dakota. 

Our first adventure was at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.  Our connection to Rapid City was through Minneapolis. (Ray and I had had a connection there last year when we flew to Vancouver and I had no bad memories of it.)  Our first problem was at O'Hare.  They had to close one runway, so our plane had to share with landing planes.  Our pilot told us that we were taking turns.  That caused us to be about fifteen minutes late.  When we landed at Minneapolis I checked my iPhone to see where our connecting gate was.  We were coming in at F7 and we needed to be at B16.  We had 40 minutes....that should be okay....well, then I checked the airport map and realized that F7 is at one end of the airport...and B16 is at the other end.  This was going to be tight...I was sitting in the front of the plane but Linda was in the back.  It would take precious time for her to get out of the plane.
I marked our gates with a big purple X to show the distance between the gates.

 Once I was off the plane I asked an employee if we would be able to make our connections. He looked at my ticket, shook his head, pointed at one of those golf type carts and said that was the only way we would make it. I ran to the driver and asked him to wait for Linda. Minutes later Linda emerged through the crowd, caught my eye and bee-lined it to the cart.  Two other women were close behind, frantic looks on their faces, but my sister won the race.  Fortunately there was enough room on the cart for all of us.

Our driver assured us that he would get us there as he zigzagged around people, honking to warn others to get out of his way.  "The employees are the worst to move!" he shouted back at us as he sped past everyone.  "Hold on, we have some turns up ahead!"  Childhood  memories of riding the Wild Mouse at the Riverside Amusement Park in Indianapolis came to me as I gripped the hand rail.

Wild Mouse Ride picture taken by Abie Danter (found on line)

 I swear I heard him say the gate was about a mile away.  I have tried to research to see the distance between gates at this airport, but have not found any facts yet.  I did read one review that said, "If you are training for the marathon, this is the place to make connecting flights."  Many other reviews said that they had missed their flights.  Some suggested that a three hour layover would be the only way they would ever go through that airport.  I can't believe there is not a monorail like Detroit Metro has.  But we zigzagged so much, it may not be possible...or maybe there is something like that, but we missed it.

Our driver got us to the end of his line.  Relief!  At least, that is what I thought.  Instead, he screeched to a halt, pointed down a hallway and said, " Walk down to the first set of escalators (or was it the second set?)...go down the escalator, follow the B1-B16 signs.  They will take you down another hall, you can use the moving sidewalk.  Then, take the escalator up.  There will be another hallway to your gate.  B-16 is the last one.

I am glad that Linda and I are fast walkers....I don't know how anyone who can't walk fast would have made it.  We arrived at the gate right when the doors of the plane were ready to close.  Of course,  where were our seats?  We were in the very back of the plane.  I slumped into my seat wishing I had taken some pictures of the airport...but they would have only been a blur.

Here is a picture I found on line.  There were numerous bars/snack bars like this close to the gates, where one might have a leisurely drink before boarding.   I am sure many people have had positive experiences at this airport.  It seemed clean, modern and had lots of shopping options.  They just need some way to transport people from one end of the airport to the other.

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