Go With the Flow

Cancun FloodWhile we were dating, Bella lived in Michigan and Freddy lived in Florida. Rather than spending a weekend in the other person’s home, we decided to capitalize on a mileage reward flight on Spirit to San Pedro Sula, Honduras. (First attempt! More on that later). We each planned to meet in Ft. Lauderdale for our connecting 12 AM flight to SAP.

When Bella arrived at her originating airport she was advised to not even board the plane because she would miss her connecting flight. She quickly did the math in her head and took a chance, figuring at worst we would have a weekend in Ft. Lauderdale.

Meanwhile, I had arrived in FLL and was waiting at the SAP departure gate, which was adjacent to Bella’s arrival gate. When the departure time approached, I pleaded in vain with the gate agent to delay the flight.  “She’s minutes away!”  I could have gone on without her, but that didn’t seem like the gentlemanly thing to do, so I set my stopwatch and waited for her plane to unload.

Seven minutes after the gate closed and the plane pushed off, Bella was first off her plane. Spirit couldn’t be bothered to hold the plane for seven short minutes to ensure two frequent passengers could make the flight.

How do you deal with that?

Rather than being demanding and irate, we wandered down to the Spirit ticket desk and had a nice talk with the agent. It sure pays to be calm and gracious. The agent felt bad for us and began a search to see where she could send us. The best she could do was offer Cancun in ten hours. Sounded like a deal to us.

Keep in mind, this was a reward flight and not all booked on one confirmation number. Bella had a round trip, DTW to FLL to SAP. I had a TPA to FLL round trip and a FLL to SAP round trip. That’s three reservations and my “missed flight” to SAP was by choice. The agent could have said “too bad, we don’t owe you anything,” but she didn’t. She hooked us up because we treated her with dignity and respect.

Now we had time to kill and it was the middle of the night. Rather than waste time and money on a taxi and a brief hotel stay, we opted to sleep at the airport. The over air-conditioned Florida airport was too cold for comfort. Bella had a better idea:

FLL Park BenchWe spent the night on a bench between terminals. It was warm and comfortable.

We arrived at Cancun the next day and began a gustatory feast of carnitas, tacos, and Corona. Bella is on a perpetual quest for the perfect carnitas. We found an inexpensive hotel in downtown Cancun.

Caribe InternacionalThe thunderstorm that night overwhelmed the storm drains. No worries, we just took off our shoes, waded out to the cab who had water sloshing around on the floor, and headed off to Las Tarascas for our breakfast and beer specials (Pacifico) before returning to the airport to end our weekend getaway and return to our professional lives.

We had a blast turning what could have been a travel disaster into something memorable.

What made this possible? We didn’t have checked baggage. We didn’t have pre-paid lodging or rental car. We were able to go with the flow and we have another great story.



I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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