Thursday, February 19, 2009

Day 1: Blowin' in the Wind; or La Guardia is a Hole

Hey Folks-

Sorry for the lull in posts... I was in Disney World, and what can I say... I was too excited to blog.

I've got too much to discuss to fit it into one blog, so I've decided to break it down into a blog per day. It's fitting, actually, because more than almost every other vacation to Disney I've ever had, each of the days sort of fit into a different theme.

'Nuff of the prelims... Here we go.

I work for an airline. I don't want to mention which one, but it's a big one, and one of the great "benefits" is that I fly for free.

Sounds great right? Well... it certainly can be. It also can be a colossal, terrible, heart-wrenching disaster. "How's that?" you ask.... Because I fly for free... flying STAND BY. It's as bad as it sounds.

So on Thursday last (that's how we writerly-types say Last Thursday), I headed to the airport. I arrived around 6:00 for my 8 am flight, with the thoughts that if that flight looked close to being full, I could take the 7 am flight to La Guardia and connect to Orlando there at 10:14. Both of those flights looked pretty open, and while it would get me down to Florida a couple of hours later, I'd still make it pretty easily, which when flying stand-by is extremely important, because lemme tell ya...that shit is stressful.

I get to the ticket counter and ask the ticketing agent how the flights are looking (having already checked them from home, but things change pretty fast sometimes, and I wanted to check again). She gave me the official answer of "It's oversold by 8". Now...let me just say... This is total bullshit. This is the official answer. The answer they give regular customers. I don't understand AT ALL why these people can't just tell a fellow employee what the real numbers are. I knew that, while it was technically oversold by 8, there were 12 seats that were available for standby and mishandled passengers and whatnot. This is the number I was looking for, because even though it's oversold, I could easily get on if my priority got me in that top 12. Do they give me that information? no. I don't fucking get why.

Anyway, because she refuses to level with me as a colleague, I decide to not risk missing the direct flight and go to my less-convenient, but more likely to have trouble getting on La Guardia option... (I refused to even look if I would have made it on the direct when I had a chance. Would make me too angry).

So I'm on the flight. I make it with no problems. We're approaching the runway in New York and the winds are whipping around pretty bad. Bad enough that I notice the pilots are having a tough time keeping steady and it's making me a little nervous. I am not a nervous flyer at all. So we're about 30 feet off the runway and suddenly they pull up and we start climbing. This is around... 8:45 and I'm not yet alarmed. I still have an hour and a half before my flight. The captain gets on the PA, and says "Well folks, as you may have noticed we didn't land. The winds are pretty strong right now, so we're going to circle around and make another attempt. Won't be but a minute."

20 minutes later we miss our second attempt too. By this time, we've been circling for a while and the wind is bumping the plane up and down. This doesn't mix with 25 people with sensitive stomachs. It's about now that the first dude barfs into a little paper bag. Yep. I said "First". 10 minutes later the Flight Attendant has literally run out of barf bags and is starting to search the empty seats for extras. I'm one of the few people who don't puke, and it's basically a miracle. I was close a couple of times.

We finally land on the 3rd attempt, after the captain mentioned that if we didn't make this one we'd be diverting to JFK. That was a nightmare scenario for me at the time, as I still had almost an hour before my connection, so as long as we landed shortly, I'd be fine. Turns out diverting would have saved me 40 bucks, but I'll get to that shortly.

So we land and then we sit. And sit. And sit. And I start to get worried, because suddenly there's only 25 minutes before my flight. I'm starting to freak the fuck out at this point. The captain provided only a small explanation involving something regarding a broken down "lear jet" (whatever the fuck that means) and emergency vehicles blocking the taxi-way. Let me tell you... that was a hard pill to swallow. I could see the plane I needed to get on. I could see where our plane needed to be. If we'd have made one of the first 2 attempts, we wouldn't have been on the taxi-way when this "lear jet" broke down. GUH

We finally get to the gate (after a short little ridiculous shuttle bus ride from the tarmac) and I run up to the departure gate (10 minutes before departure) and she's TAKING ME OFF THE FLIGHT. I begged her. I pleaded. I told her all of the shit that happened to which she gave me that one emoticon face where it's like... eyes that just blink blankly.

"I called you and you weren't here."
"I know! I was out there!"

Well... it's now 10 and I have no clue what I'm going to do, because flights are being canceled left and right. I end up missing the next flight to Orlando. And the next one back to Cincinnati. And to Atlanta. Basically... I've got nothing. I'm starting to be afraid of the very real possibility that I don't even make it out of La Guardia at all. I stay at La Guardia (where there is no Wi Fi) until about 3:15, when I ask a gate agent if there are flights out of JFK... The answer? Orlando? No. Cincinnati? Yes. So I take a 40 dollar cab ride to JFK.

I was told, originally, that I'd never make the 4:25 flight back to CVG. Well.. I did make it.

My plan was basically to go home and try again in the morning. I didn't get in to Cincinnati again until 7:00. Now... there was a flight at 8:05 to Orlando, but i was listed 6th on the list and there were only 2 seats available. Not only that, but everyone but one person had checked in, so there was only even the HOPE of 3 people getting on.

By some miracle (or the fact that 4 of the people ahead of me were together) I made it on the Orlando flight. I sat in a middle seat, between a foreign guy and a pretty Indian girl. It was... a long flight. I finally get in to Orlando at 10:15 and grab a cab (another 60 dollars) to the hotel. So what was supposed to be a great, half-day at Disney turned out to be a 14 hour day of sitting in airports and planes and taking a 12 hour round-trip to Cincinnati for no reason... but there it is.

My first day.

Stay tuned for Day 2. (I promise it will be more interesting.)


Anonymous said...

Vomit. Definitely glad I missed this part.

briana said...

Ew, wow, that sucks big time. But you made it!!!

djphob said...

I don't even wanna hear it!

PS my word verification is "caning". shudder.