I suppose my first clue (other than the name Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport) was at a gift shop after I landed. I had some time to kill between landing at 3:45 and departing at 6:55.
Making my purchase, the man behind the counter rattled off a question in what I could only assume was a foreign tongue. (My first guess was French--I am not making that up.) I stared at him, trying to make sense of the situation. It could not possibly be French. That was out of the question. Or was it? I noticed a large popcorn machine behind him, then retroactively deciphered the word popcorn. OH! Is he offering me popcorn? Answer him...it has officially been too long! You look like a jackass! Say something! "No, thank you." (Though to be honest, my period sounded a lot more like a question mark, since it was a shot in the dark.) It seemed to work, as he then gave me a total (I assume) and held his hand out to take my money. To be safe, I gave him a larger bill than I knew it would be, rather than risk counting out exact change. (Just imagine the chaos...)
Eventually I stumbled my way through ordering some lunch and found my gate. A11. Oh, Gate A11. If only I had known how intimately I would come to know you...
My flight to Detroit was scheduled for 6:55, and there was also a 5:00 flight leaving for Detroit from the same gate. Seeing me there, the man at the desk told me that for a fee, I could switch over. "No, thanks," I replied. "I don't mind waiting a couple hours."
STUPID STUPID STUPID. I am like the guy in that joke who ignores all the signs from God and is then absolutely shocked when he dies. (Foreshadowing, kids.)
The plane boarded and I settled in with my book. (Wit, by Margaret Edson, read it.) Twenty or so minutes later, people came in through Gate A11. I assumed they were a new plane until I recognized them. Storms in Detroit were keeping them from taking off. Two hours later, the first Detroit group left. That left the guy at the desk to deal with our flight. We learned we were waiting on our plane, which was landing from Detroit. So naturally, it was delayed! First estimate was a 9:00pm departure. We hung out and got to know each other while people took turns in line transferring to other flights--most of our plane was only connecting in Detroit. Departure time was pushed back to 9:30. I was told that there were about 9 of us still on the flight. (We hardcore nine.) If the flight got in after a certain time, the flight crew was due their 8 hours of sleep, so we were racing the clock. Because of this, the guy was going to get the passengers off that plane and "throw the nine of you on as quickly as possible." He was going to skip all the formalities of first class, executive platinum blah blah blah, and all that.
Then...at 9:30, the airline employee (who had been helping Gate A11 get to Detroit since around 4:30) left and came back. With bags of popcorn, which he passed out to those of us still sitting around. Ohhhh, no. Treats? That cannot be good.
The announcement came only moments later. "We really regret to inform you that the 6:55 flight to Detroit has been cancelled."
I must say, the employees of Northwest Airlines were very helpful. When I pitifully asked how I was getting home, they told me exactly what to do and gave me all the information I needed. So I picked up my bag, called the hotel, and moments later found myself in the lobby of the Cincinnati Airport Holiday Inn. The man behind the desk asked if I wanted two double beds or a king sized bed. "Yeahhh, it's just me, waiting for my flight." "Alright, we'll go with the king sized. You can roll around and it might make you feel better about your flight."
Behold the restorative powers of six pillows.
It did help, a little. But not enough to soften the blow of a 5am wake-up call so you can get your ass back to the airport and Ohio. (I learned in my room that the hotel is actually IN Kentucky, so that's how close they are. Just FYI.)
In the end, everything was fine. My bag arrived in Detroit when I did, no turbulence, and we left right on time...from Gate A11.