I started this morning at the tiny airport in New Haven, a place with only one national airline and without any liquid refreshments of any variety. The first flight of the day had been canceled but ours was good to go and we all dutifully trooped through security and waited. Until it dawned on us that we were quite a bit past the departure time and no one had said anything. There was no gate agent; we could see the tarmac out the door.
This caused instant bonding among the small band of travelers who had previously never seen each other before in our lives. We knew life stories, where we were going, what our connections were, blah blah blah. But nothing from the airline which shall remain nameless but has the initials USAirways. Oops, I said it.
Being me and not being shy, I went back to the security gate (which locked us in) and cupped my hands around my mouth to make a megaphone and called out, “Is anyone there? The passengers have some questions.” Suddenly a disembodied voice came from the ceiling – was it God or was it an airline person? – telling us that our flight was delayed because there was no pilot or first officer. They were flying up from Maryland, through Philly, and their plane had mechanical failure. The guess was that we wouldn’t leave before noon.
Well, clearly this would not do. We all had connections to make and already knew they wouldn’t work if we didn’t leave right that minute. We even practiced our best airline personnel announcements to show we could be our own pilots. It didn’t work. After yet another suggestion from yours truly, an actual person appeared to explain what was happening.
The upshot of it all was that our flight wasn’t canceled until everyone had been “reaccommodated” which sounds an awful lot like rescheduling. Apparently there is a difference in the airline world, probably tied with those false on time statistics. Most of us ended up taking cabs in groups of three up to Hartford airport, an hour and a $130 cab ride away, to take another flight to Philly. I made my flight there by about 10 minutes and we all had a nice reunion inside Hartford security since we are all best friends for life.
But then we got to Philly and little buses to go from the terminal way in the middle of nowhere (and the last gate in it) to a more populated one that was having major air conditioning problems. It was not pretty. My new flight to New Orleans ended up having several gate changes and more delays when the airport closed because of lightening.
And then, in a nice reprise of the morning problem of the missing pilots, we learned that our flight attendants couldn’t be found and we couldn’t leave without them even though the plane was ready. We were Not Amused and when the AWOL personnel finally arrived about 20 minutes later, they were flustered when we all started applauding and making snippy remarks to each other. The plane was full – are you surprised?
I finally got into NOLA at 9:15pm instead of my scheduled 1:30 time and to the hotel at 10pm, where I found a welcome tray with dried fruit, nuts, and a big bowl of M&Ms. What happened to fruit??? My feet are already swollen and I’m both tired and wired – and I ate too many of the free food things because I was hungry and they were here. I finally brushed my teeth and covered them up so I’m not tempted. Let’s hope either they take them away tomorrow or my roommate comes and eats them for me.
And note to self: don’t fly out of New Haven again and avoid USAirways if at all possible. Since I’ll be flying out of Hartford in the future (a decision collectively made by our bonded travelers this morning while waiting behind the locked gate without any live person around to talk to us), I will have a choice of airlines. USAirways will not be it.