MINNEAPOLIS – Cancelled. Cancelled again. And again. And again.
That was the message Minot-bound passengers received repeatedly while waiting at Gate C24 at the Minneapolis airport. The Delta Airlines flights from Minneapolis to Minot were cancelled repeatedly during the recent spell of icy, snowy, windy weather conditions that seemed would never go let up.
Some travelers heading for Minot that had been trying to board a flight for four days were told to wait another 48 hours. Tired of airport living, paying for hotels, repeatedly calling employers and relatives to inform them of their dilemma, several opted to buy a train ticket and board the westbound Amtrak out of historic Union Station in St. Paul.
New friendships were formed as stranded travelers banded together in small groups to navigate through the process of altering travel plans. The questions were many.
What about luggage and where was it? How do you get a train reservation and from what station? What was the train schedule? How do you get to the depot?
All were questions tackled by each group, sometimes sharing information to expedite the process. Some passengers opted to have their luggage pulled from a plane for pick-up at the baggage carousel at the opposite end of the of the airport and a few floors below too. That wait was over an hour for many while the amount of time to get to the train station on time grew less and less.
One group contained two people from Maryland, two from New Mexico, one from Velva, and another from Minot – all with the Magic City as a destination. They called a Uber driver and arrived at Union Station with about 45 minutes to spare. As it turned out, the Amtrak was running a few minutes late too. So, more standing in line and waiting.
Many in the line at the train station had come from the Minneapolis Airport. People from Williston, Minot, and places throughout the northwest part of North Dakota. All were weary, tired, and eager to bring their travels to an end.
Amtrak departed St. Paul a few minutes after midnight. It would be an all-night ride to Minot, eventually arriving about 9:30 a.m. The greeting for the travel weary was more than refreshing – snow, wind, and a temperature scarcely above zero.
On Amtrak people found comfortable seating, much larger than available on airlines. There was an observation car, dining car, and large windows. Some opted for sleeping quarters. All were glad when Amtrak pulled into Minot where rides were waiting, some secure in the knowledge they got to Minot a full two days earlier than waiting to travel by plane.