Apparently, the domino effect of the weather problems we faced on our outbound trip really goofed things up for our return– we heard that there were hundreds of flights just like ours, canceled because of a lack of crew. So we got out of Iowa by the skin of our teeth, looking forward to a night in a cheap hotel near the airport (though the friendly ticket agent kindly informed us that we were welcome to sleep at O’Hare Airport itself, without any kind of prosecution or harassment whatsoever, what with it being Christmas and all). But once in O’Hare, an even more friendly agent hooked us up with some meal vouchers and a free hotel room, which was nice (I’ve decided that every hotel should have a living room/office area completely separate from the bedroom, so that dear children can be scuttled away to blissful slumber and parents can use indoor voices for conversation).
Then up in the 4′s to catch a crowded shuttle back to the airport and to trade our (second) canceled flight for a direct flight to DC. Which flight was delayed while a pilot was located, but which then boarded before being delayed again while we looked for another pilot who was still flying into the airport. So we sat at the gate to wait, finally landing shortly after noon, grateful to return before the weekend (at which point The Wife’s job would have probably been ‘canceled’). We were at a completely different airport than the one where we departed several days ago, but some kind friends picked us up and got us home in short order.
It was a long and complicated trip, and one which will no doubt put us off holiday air travel for a good while. But it was also a great time with family, and the kind of convoluted adventure that makes you very glad to be home.