Dean's Blog

Travel Karma

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I sat down to write a new column for the New Year and was already to go when circumstances shifted my focus. I still plan to write about my original topic, at least before the month is out and it is no longer a brand new year, but that will have to wait. It has been some time since I wrote about my travels, mostly because I was fortunate not to suffer an unusual number of delays or cancellations this past year. However, there was a time in the not-too-distant past when staff were reluctant to travel with me because of the bad “travel karma” that surrounded my trips. I suspect that bad travel karma has returned if the past few months and several trips are any indication.

As I write I am sitting in Reagan National Airport deciding what might be the most expeditious return route to Vermont. Planes, trains and automobiles are all within the realm of possible at this point. It seems that some mysterious weather condition is causing delays that have cascaded into the flight schedule, causing numerous delays and cancellations. I know I am not alone because I have run into many other travelers flying the same unnamed airline trying to sort out their next flight. Quite interestingly, the weather is sunny and sky blue in this part of the country, although I understand that the planes we need are potentially coming from other locations experiencing bad weather. I’m not sure how the plane that was the first leg of my flight out of Florida may have been caught in snow, but I suppose that is one of the mysteries of life and logistics. I am increasingly convinced the weather at question is a dark cloud around me!

The present trip to Washington was actually my third attempt to attend this specific conference over the past year, the first two resulting in cancellations caused by weather and my granddaughter’s birth. I thought I was home free on this trip but should have grown suspicious when my very early morning flight to Washington was inexplicably cancelled and I was rerouted, arriving just as the conference began. What could possibly go wrong on a day with clear blue skies? The first e-mail alert that my flight was delayed seemed routine. Then the second and third notifications arrived, followed of course by the cancellation. I was already aware of the cancellation through my Flight Tracker app, which has proven indispensible in light of my travel karma. Still clear blue skies, but I could feel the travel karma cloud building.

I suppose I could go on about why things like this happen and can’t help but think that the changing nature of the airline industry and continued march to consolidation are only compounded by natural events. Over the holiday break I watched with some empathy the scores of travelers stuck in Vermont for days until open seats became available following a holiday storm. It is never pleasant to be on that end of the travel karma equation! Perhaps we can swap stories about the worst travel experience at Residency this summer, preferably in Partridge’s Pub. And may your travel karma be positive for the trip to campus!

OK, time to get back to work.