Turns out the correct flight time was 8:40, and they delayed it ten minutes to make up for our self-inflicted delay in Raleigh. Traveling, particularly by air, leaves me with this strange sensation in my stomach that may very well be mild nausea, but I always dismiss it as hunger. I picked up a Burger King Veggie Burger (but they're still better in England for some reason) from the Burger King that time forgot. Or at least the supply clerk. They were out of diet coke. When I asked for a diet coke, what I considered a reasonable request, the cashier looked at me and rather sternly corrected me, "we don't have diet coke. Had she explained that they were simply out of diet coke, I probably would have refrained from the "bizarro hick world" comment and would not have asked her why they have a fountain for diet coke if they don't have it. While someone two or three customers ahead of me is reading out their order, a guy in the kitchen yells "fries is out!", and the cashier tapes a laminated sign to the register that says "we apologize for the inconvenience, but we are temporarily out of fries blah blah we will give you onion rings blah." They had a LAMINATED SIGN behind the cash register that says they're out of fries. This happens enough for them to LAMINATE it.
Board the plane. Apparently 18-30 year olds are immune from search in Charlotte, but old women are not. Find my (center) seat and begin looking for a spot to put my bag in the compartment. I bend down to pick it up just as a guy also in the aisle jerks his elbow upward and he clocks me square in the eye. The pain of impact and the confusing stress of the situation and the day nearly bring me to tears. He says, "hey...I didn't do it on purpose." I said I understood that but it didn't stop it from hurting. I guess I was more pissed at the possibility of having a black eye because it stopped bothering me when a more immediate problem arose.
The airplane cabin, quite like the shuttle bus from friday, was not being filled with conditioned air. The pilot acknowledged this and said that as soon as we got moving, it would kick in. We prepare to back away from the gate, the TV screens drop and the safety movie begins playing. The plane stops, the TVs retract, and the air conditioning is still not on. The pilot comes on the loudspeaker again and says that he's having a "little trouble getting the engine started" and that we were going to use an auxiliary power source to start it while we were at the gate so that it would be going once we hit the runway.
Our fears of a crashing death were not assuaged by the clouds of foul-smelling smoke that began filling the cabin. An airplane mechanic came on board to check out the situation, and concluded, as the pilot informed us, that the smoke was coming from the outside power source that we were using to get the engines started and again, once we were moving, it would be okay. Just sit tight and we'll get this mechanical failure sorted out and on our way.
A few passengers trickled up to the front of the plane and asked to be taken off of it and booked on another flight. The captain promised that the repairs would only take a few more minutes (we by now had waited forty) and it would be in our best interest to just wait it out. More passengers asked to wait out the repairs off the plane as the smoke was making them sick. The captain comes on again and says "if you would like to wait out the repairs at the gate, you can deplane if you want to."
Nearly everyonestands up and begins removing their stuff. He comes on the intercom again and says that he really thinks we should just wait in the plane, but a few minutes later, he comes to the conclusion that we probably shouldn't take the smoke-filled plane that needs a jump, and we all get off. I head to the nearest bar, bum a cigarette off someone and order what turned out to be a $2.45 diet coke (Note: while National Airport has signs around that say the prices of their concessions are competitive to businesses outside the airport, Charlotte Airport does not). They decide that an entirely new plane will be needed, and once they can find a free one, we'll be informed as to which gate we'll have to move to. A new plane arrives, a new gate is found, and my 8:40 flight takes off at 11:20.