I am finally back home in Rochester, from Seattle. This took two days. The first leg of my flight was to Atlanta, where I supposedly had a 55-minute layover. The Air Tran plane was late by half an hour. It came in at the D Concourse. The gate agent confirmed that my next flight was leaving from C2. So I ran through the D Concourse, got on the underground train, got off at C, ran some more (and I am too old to be running through airports, dragging my rolling suitcase, like some weighted-down Joe Namath in the old TV ads), and reached C2 ten minutes before take-off. The gate agent there told me there had been a gate change an hour earlier -- to a D gate.
I missed the plane. I also threw a hissy fit at the Air Tran counter, which accomplished nothing whatsoever. Air Tran would not take responsibility: "We aren't responsible for air-traffic control problems, ma'am, which was why your flight was late." No manager could be produced that late at night, it seems, and this certainly wasn't the poor customer rep's fault. Since almost nobody goes to Rochester, the next flight I could get on was seventeen hours away. I went and found a "microtel," which sounds like something out of William Gibson, to spend the night. At my own expense.
The point is that this has happened to me the last three times I made a flight from the west coast to the east. My son, with the male penchant for providing information instead of sympathy, explained to me that the phenomenon is caused by a combination of deregulation, union pension problems, rising gas prices, and a fourth factor I can't remember. What I can remember was when flying was reliable. Sic transit gloria mundi.