I’ve just returned from Seattle after my second mileage run to that fair city this month. The trip last Saturday and Sunday went well, so I hoped for the same this weekend! Unfortunately, even though I was not going anywhere near Chicago, bad weather there would still cause me some problems.

As always, my routing was indirect as I try to build miles. I flew American Airlines from Austin to Dallas to Oakland to Seattle, arriving at 2:30 p.m. The OAK-SEA flight was on Alaska Airlines, but was a codeshare with AA so I would get my full mileage credit. My return flight, going through Los Angeles, was scheduled to depart at 9 p.m., so I would need to be back at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac) by 7:15 or so. That gave me less than five hours on the ground to enjoy Seattle!

I left the terminal and immediately realized one thing: it was COLD! The temperature was barely 40 degrees, 10-20 mile winds, and light rain was falling! After the 70 degree temps in central Texas, this was quite a shock to the system. The gloves and wool cap immediately came in handy.

I took the bus downtown as I had done last week and got off near the Pike Place Market. Starbucks had a booth set up near the bus stop offering small samples of mint coffee and hot cocoa as a holiday treat. The line was long, but the warm drink was well appreciated!

Since the weather was so bad I decided to stay inside the Market as much as I could. I wandered the shops, bought a few small items, actually enjoyed the crowds as they did their holiday shopping, and then went looking for dinner. I found the Ipanema Brazilian Grill on 1st Avenue, less than a block from the Market. What fun this was!

The restaurant serves Rodizio, a Brazilian all-you-can-eat dinner. You start by serving yourself from their very nice salad bar, and then it gets exciting. Their servers, called passadores, bring you food on a long skewer that looks like a sword. One server will bring a skewer with beef, several minutes later another server brings a skewer with chicken or lamb or pork. As you eat, the servers continue to come by your table offering more food and will keep serving you unless you display a card they gave you that tells them to wait a while. If you like a lot of tasty grilled food, this is the place to go. They will continue to serve you until you tell them to stop!

After dinner I walked back to the bus stop and stood there shivering with many other people as I waited for the bus. A short ride later I was back at SeaTac for what I hoped would be an uneventful trip home. However, that was not to be.

My Alaska Airlines flight to Los Angeles was scheduled to depart at 8:55 p.m. I boarded at 8:30 or so along with 30 other people, this was not a crowded flight. The seating on the plane is three-across and I was sharing a row with another gentleman. I knew I would want to sleep on my way to Los Angeles, so I asked the flight attendant if I could move to another row where I could have all three seats to myself: he said yes, so I moved back 12 rows and settled in for what should be a quiet ride.

At 8:50, ten minutes before departure, I noticed something odd: no one was in the cockpit! No pilot! No co-pilot! This was not good! Five minutes later they arrived and apologized, they had been delayed getting in from Chicago where there was a bad winter storm.

Twenty minutes later we were still on the ground. The pilot announced that we had a slight mechanical problem but it would be fixed quickly. At 9:45 the flight attendant got on the public address system and asked if I was on the plane, and if so, to signal her.

I assumed I was about to get in mild trouble for changing seats, but it was worse than that. “Are you connecting in Los Angeles?” she asked. When I said I was, she said, “This flight will be late and you will miss your connection, so you need to get off the plane while we figure out how to get you home.”

It took a few minutes but they found a solution: American Airlines had a direct flight from Seattle to Dallas leaving at 10:40 p.m. I would lose some miles since I was no longer going through Los Angeles, but at least I would get home. They gave me a ticket for American, and I made the long walk to the other end of the terminal.

I got to the gate, saw several dozen people waiting for the flight and sat and relaxed. In less than an hour I would be on my way home!

Ten minutes later the gate attendant paged all those (just me) who had transferred from Alaska Airlines. I went to the counter and he gave me the bad news: because of bad weather in Chicago, the plane to Dallas would not even arrive in Seattle for another 4 hours! They expected it at 2 a.m. with a 2:30 departure!

I was stuck. There was no Admiral’s Club at SeaTac, and most of the restaurants had closed by that late time. So, along with others, I just sat. And sat. And sat. Finally, the plane arrived at 2:10 a.m. Sunday morning and, after the passengers had deplaned, we boarded. We took off at 2:40 a.m.

My original itinerary had me land at SeaTac at 2:29 and take off at 8:55, for a total time on the ground of 6 hrs 26 minutes. That evening I had arrived at SeaTac at 7:15 and did not take off until 2:40 the next morning: I spent more time sitting in SeaTac than I had originally planned to spend in Seattle itself! Oh well, at least we got out of there.

I dozed off shortly after we took off and slept all the way to DFW. Once we arrived I went straight to the Admiral’s Club and had a very restful shower. After a couple of cups of coffee I was ready-to-go for my 9:15 flight back to Austin.

The passengers and I boarded; I looked and was happy to see that, unlike my Alaska flight, we did have a pilot and co-pilot! A few minutes before we were set to depart the pilot announced that they needed to replace an oxygen canister in the cockpit. “Don’t worry, this is not a safety issue, but we cannot take off without the canister. It will only take 5-10 minutes to replace, so this should not delay us very much.”

He was right, it only took a few minutes to replace. What he neglected to say was that it would take 50 minutes before they could get the replacement cannister to the plane! So, we sat and waited. Eventually they installed the part and we took off 7 minutes after we were scheduled to land in Austin.

After a short flight home, the Mileage Run was complete. The delays getting out of Seattle were a negative, but a minor one. I got home safely and I earned my miles.

Mission accomplished!