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Barbara Lombardo of Saratoga Springs, NY, is a journalism adjunct at University at Albany and retired executive editor of The Saratogian, The Record and the Community News. Follow her on Twitter @Barb_Lombardo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Weekend in Santa Fe and Southwest's Sun Roof Surprise

My gal pals had a two-Margarita advantage on me by the time I shuffled into the Santa Fe Hotel bar Thursday evening, tugging a carry-on bursting at the seams. I missed happy hour, but at least I didn’t miss my connection. Storms added an hour to the Albany-to-Orlando flight and delayed the Orlando-to-Albuquerque leg of the journey by another three. On the bright side, the roofs of both 737s remained intact the entire trip. That’s better than an extra bag of peanuts. Though only a long weekend, this was a real getaway – no checking e-mails. So I didn’t know about Southwest's sunroof surprise until Saturday evening when I went to the hotel business office to print out the boarding passes for Sunday’s trip home. Right there only AOL home page was the news. Swell. Well, we figured, the planes on Sunday would be really, really, really safe. Duct tape fixes everything. For the first time, I paid close attention to the location of the emergency exits and the procedures for breathing through the oxygen mask, blowing into a life preserver, and kissing your butt goodbye. The Santa Fe weekend was the latest girls’ get-away for me and my former Saratogian friends Paulette and Ruth. We mean to do it every year, usually meeting in the east, though the last trip, 27 months ago, cleverly caught Chicago during the worst ice storm of the season. So this time we picked a warmer venue and a shorter trek for Ruth, who lives in California. Got an e-mail Monday morning from Paulette saying her connecting flight was delayed about six hours. She didn’t pull into her driveway in Pittsburgh until 3:15 a.m. – almost 24 hours (give or take, given the time change) after we’d hopped onto the shuttle from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. Next time, we agreed, we’ll meet somewhere we can all fly direct. Paulette might even drive. No more six-hour layovers. And no more missing happy hour. If Southwest keeps its planes in one piece, we’ll be all set.

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