Our flight back from Atlanta made its first hop without incident: to Phoenix. But then when it came time for the next hop (to San Jose), the fates were not smiling. No, they were frowning. One might even say they were having a little temper tantrum. Okay, actually it wasn't that bad.
I'd been bragging to my parents that i had figured out how to avoid the Christmas airline crap: fly America West, which always transfers through Phoenix. Phoenix has no snow, no wind, no rain -- no weather to speak of. Therefore your connection can never be messed up! Well, obviously this direct challenge to my bad flying karma could not be ignored, so on our flight from Phoenix, the airplane's computer system blew up and could not be fixed.
I get very depressed when something like that happens, because i know what follows: many hours without food, sleep, comfort, or any resolution about how they're going to get you home. But, against all my expectations, America West did an absolutely incredible job about resolving things. We were herded downstairs to the ticket counters and given hotel vouchers (for hotels that actually had rooms available!) and some food vouchers and info on our new flight, leaving at 7.33 the next morning, in virtually identical seats to our original ones.
Feeling better, we took the shuttle to the hotel, got settled into what was actually a very nice room, and set about getting food. The desk clerk suggested that Papa John's would deliver to the hotel, but a quick call corrected that misinterpretation. "Nearest food?" we asked various people, including hotel staff (who, i thought, might have a personal interest in the answer), and we were consistently directed to the ampm across the street. (East coasters: it's like a 7- 11.)
Walking around a few blocks of Phoenix was just like I remembered it from my last visit a couple of years ago: the city seems to almost always be completely vacant. City blocks were about 1km to a side, filled with short flat unidentifiable buildings (offices? stores? hard to tell), poorly lit and spread out over unimaginable space. So we hiked "across the street" (actually a good city block for normal cities) to the ampm, got cold turkey pita sandwiches and doritos and went back to the hotel to watch Galaxy Quest on cable before passing out.
At what felt like about 10 minutes later, the alarm went off and we stumbled off to the airport to catch our early worm flight. Just to tease me, the pilot announced that they were having computer problems and we had to wait about an hour before the plane actually got fixed and took off. ("What, is this the same plane?" Greg asked.)
Anyway, we finally got back. Yay. My faith in America West is restored -- they still kick Delta's ass to Pluto and back.