My heart sank as my GPS showed the plane turning west just over Buda, TX. Unlike the wise man the city sounds like, I felt awfully dumb. We were going to circle for a while, I thought and miss the connection in Houston. We were already held at the tarmac at Dallas for over an hour. The pilot had worse news. We were going to have to refuel in Austin as the weather and congestion in Houston worsened. Chances of making the connection were even slimmer. I had checked the status of that in-bound coming in from Denver and we had a comfortable lead, but not anymore.
Now I was mad with myself - how could I put my son through the bumpy flights and now likely chaotic hotel and flight rebookings with the holiday rush? The flight from Austin to Houston after we refueled was one of the spookiest as we seemed to fly the 737 much of the way at 3,000 feet through strong surface winds.
On Friday afternoon, we were trying to get home through the tornadoes that shut down DFW airport (we were flying from Dallas Love Field) and caused President Bush to move to an armored vehicle at his ranch. I had more technology that the average passenger. I was tracking the sporadic in-bound flights on with WI-FI on my laptop on FlightAware and could see the storms they were flying around. I had the Doppler charts on Weather.com on my PDA. I even went and booked ourselves on stand-by on a flight which routed through New Orleans, which looked mostly blue skies at that hour.
With all that information I should have a) seen if we would clear the New Orleans flight and if not b) given up for the evening and checked into a hotel. Instead we stuck with the original reservation through Houston - which if I had looked closer on Weather.com had even more intense storm patches.
Amazingly, the connection in Houston was still waiting for us after all the delays and re-routing. We landed in Tampa at 3.30 am . The New Orleans connection had landed at 11.15 pm, a few hours earlier and would have been far smoother.
All that information in my hands and I made a poor decision. Thanks to the crew at Southwest for not making us not suffer too much more for the decision. And thanks to my son for not complaining much - he seemed to understand that with all my travel I have seen many such flights in my past. And lived to enjoy yet another New Years!