Synod 2014 Ends with Travel Nightmare

After a relatively smooth week at Synod 2014, getting home was anything but smooth for many delegates. Despite synod ending early on Wednesday evening, some delegates did not get home until Friday night.

When thunderstorms swept through the midwest, air traffic control at Chicago’s O’Hare brought the airport to a “ground stop” a couple of times, halting all flights in or out. That caused a ripple effect in airports across the country, including Des Moines, Iowa, where many delegates were hoping to fly home.

Several delegates who caught the first shuttle busses from Pella to the Des Moines airport arrived to find out their flights were outright cancelled. Some of them managed to find seats on alternate flights. But as Banner reporter Roxanne Van Farowe found out when she reached the front of the line, airport personnel were “all out of miracles.” Several people in that group repaired to the nearest Holiday Inn, where they waited until Friday.

Others arrived in Des Moines to find their flights were delayed, but still scheduled. As they waited, flights continued to get delayed. Some were on planes that made it out to the tarmac, only to get sent back to the gate. Eventually the plane that held several people from Alberta and Ontario did manage to get to Chicago. The Edmonton-bound group managed to make their connection, only to be returned to the gate. They subsequently spent the night in the O’Hare airport. According to delegate Rev. Rich deLange, they were eventually flown to Newark, N.J., on Friday , where there was such a long wait, they went to visit the Ground Zero memorial in New York City. They finally made it to Edmonton at midnight on Friday.

The people who got home the soonest were those who decided to drive. After spending six hours in the airport waiting for their flight, the delegation from Classis Huron, and some from Classis Hamilton, rented a vehicle and drove back to Ontario. The 13-hour drive got them home well ahead of those who tried to fly.

As one of those travelers said, “Next time we’ll just drive and spare ourselves the drama.”

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

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