The only direct flight from Jackson Hole Airport to Atlanta was at 8:00 a.m. Normally this would not be difficult at a small airport in a small town. However, the staff at Dollar Rent A Car said we needed to be at the car rental office before 5:30 am at the very latest to return our car and be on their shuttle to the airport at 5:45 am. They claimed that since it was a small airport, the TSA security lines were very long. This turned out not to be true, at least not at the time we arrived nor based on what we could observe later.
We got to the rental office a little after 5:00 am, as did a couple of other families, and we were all on the shuttle before 5:30 am. We had been told that the shuttle would be at 5:45 am, but we were already close to the airport by that time. We wound up at the airport around 5:45 am, checked our bags, went through the security lines, and were ordering breakfast at the airport restaurant by 6:00 am.
We were happy with both the vehicle and the service at Dollar Rent A Car, and would recommend them based on our experience. Their office was less than ten minutes drive from our hotel room at Snow King Resort, so the drive to return the car couldn’t have been easier. However, if we book an early morning flight on our next trip to Jackson, we will probably go with one of the car rental services that has an office at the airport. It would have been nice to sleep later and control what time we returned our car, especially since we were traveling with two young children. While the lines may have gotten longer later in the morning, I did not see enough people at the airport to believe it was necessary to get there that early. We spent a lot of time waiting at the airport with two bored sleepy children who could have slept later if we didn’t have to be on an airport shuttle so early.
When checking in our bags, we were asked whether we had any bear spray. When I told them we did, we were told that it was prohibited on the airplane. I pointed out that we brought bear spray with us in our checked luggage on our flight from Atlanta and no one had any problem with it. However, she claimed that employees at other airports are not familiar with bear spray like they are at the Jackson Hole airport, and that the bear spray could explode in the luggage. I was skeptical of her claim that employees at the Hartzfeld-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta would not know that they shouldn’t allow bear spray in the checked luggage if it was such a risk, and I’ve never heard of an incident of bear spray exploding during a flight. However, I was too tired for an argument that I would lose, so we handed over the bear spray and went on our way.
Since we were up so early and had so much time to wait, we went to Jedediah’s at the Airport for breakfast. I had read many online reviews saying that their food was really good, especially for airport food. While I agree that the food was better than most airport food, I didn’t find it to be as great as many other reviewers did. That is not to say that the food was bad, but merely that it wasn’t anything special.
The return flight was on Delta 907, departing Jackson Hole at 8:00 am. The plane was small, and there were repeated announcements that they were looking for passengers willing to travel on a later flight. This seemed odd when we got on board since there were a number of empty seats. I’m going to guess it was more of an issue of weight than it was of the number of seats, but I really don’t know. While we were waiting to depart, the flight attendent announced they were reopening the door to load four more passengers on the plane. I don’t know whether they were late arrivals or if they were just added back onto the flight after getting bumped off, but after the delays our flight encountered they may have wished they took a different flight.
Although our Delta flight to Jackson Hole had included a never-ending sales pitch for various sandwiches, snacks, and drinks for an extra exhorbitant fee, our return flight did not include any efforts to sell an upgrade other than letting us know alcoholic drinks were available for purchase.
Before we took off, the pilot announced that air traffic control was trying to reroute our flight through the gulf coast due to weather issues. However, it was a small plane and did not carry enough fuel to be redirected that far out of the way without making a stop in Little Rock to refuel. He said the issue was resolved so that we could have a direct flight back to Atlanta, though our takeoff was delayed for over a half hour while they tried to work out the flight plan. Unfortunately, this turned out to be just the beginning of our return flight problems.
Although things seemed to be going fine on the flight until we were nearing our destination, including periodic announcements by the pilot of how soon we would arrive, apparently two problems happened while we were in flight. According to the pilot, the weather in our path had gotten much worse and a runway in Atlanta collapsed due to some kind of sinkhole. As a result, we were being rerouted to Nashville to await further instructions. It was at this point that I wished I had purchased Internet access with my flight ticket.
As our flight was heading towards Nashville for landing, I debated whether it would be better to sit in Nashville waiting for a flight to Atlanta or to demand a rental car and just drive home on our own. While that would be a long drive, especially in bad weather, I suspected it would be no longer than sitting around an airport in Nashville waiting to be cleared to fly to Atlanta. Bad weather plus a sinkhole at the ATL did not make me particularly eager to fly back to the city. However, we really needed to get back to Atlanta in order to keep from disrupting the week any further, as all of our plans for the week were predicated upon returning to Atlanta on time.
Our approach and landing in Nashville was fine until it suddenly became very bumpy. It was rough enough that my son asked me whether we were crashing. If this landing was anything like what we could expect in Atlanta, the idea of renting a car and driving the rest of the way was starting to sound even more enticing. While I am not afraid of flying in general, I do not like being on small planes in bad weather and things were not looking good for the rest of this flight. After a rough descent and a hard landing, we were finally on the ground in Nashville.
As we rolled down the runway, the flight attendant announced that we should remain seated while they figured out what they were doing and whether we were getting off the plane. Once the plane stopped, I went online and tried to find information about the situation in Atlanta. However, whatever was going on was apparently not significant enough to have been reported by any news sites. I went on Facebook to see if any friends had any information, and a friend shared one of his friend’s posts that his flight to Atlanta had also been rerouted to Nashville. No one seemed to know anything beyond this.
Enentually the pilot announced that we would be flying home without getting off the plane. The pilot did not seem to know when we would get there, but the Delta app said we were going to be getting there a little after 4:00 pm.
After sitting around for a while and being treated to a complimentary cup of lukewarm water, we were told that we had been cleared to fly to Atlanta “soon.” We were told that even though no one had gotten on or off the plane, they were required to show us the safety video again because the door had been opened briefly. I ignored the video as attentively as I ignored it the first time.
Our eventual landing in Atlanta was reasonably smooth and uneventful, a much softer landing than the one we had in Nashville. We were on the ground at 4:24, which meant that by the time we reached our car at the Park ‘N Fly we were going to wind up getting into Atlanta traffic during the worst traffic time of the day. However, it was better to arrive late than to get stuck in Nashville or some other place for the night.