July 31st, 2004

A twelve hour delay...

I woke up before the alarm, and reset it for 5:40 instead of 5:30. I shaved, showered, and finished packing the last few things. Robert got up at about 6:10, and Steve arrived shortly after 6:30. We left for the airport as soon as transferring his bags to Robert's car.

Checking in was uneventful, but the line for Security was unbelievable. They, once again, had those winding lines (a la Disneyworld rides) downstairs, and then more winding lines once finally getting upstairs. There were a couple of "temper tantrums" from folks who were "leaving in 15 minutes."

We sat at the gate waiting to board our 8:20 flight. 8:05, nothing. 8:10, nothing. 8:15, nothing. Finally, shortly after that, they announce boarding. I hate when there is no announcement letting you know what's going on. And, of course, people were running up after taking so long to get through Security, and they had no idea if the flight had already left, if it was delayed, or what was going on. Obviously, we left behind schedule, but did make up some time in the air.

The man sitting across the aisle from us
had on two watches -- one analog with a gold, metal band, and the other digital with a black, plastic band. I joked to Steve,"Let's ask him, 'Sir, do you have the times?' or 'Sir, what times is it, please?'" Steve then noticed that the digital one was marking lapsed time, and we had been in flight for 24 minutes.

We had some discussion around the word "periwinkle," which we'll look up once we have access to a dictionary, and about the word "periscope," as to how it is spelled. Steve thinks it's Para-based and not Peri-based. We'll check that out as well. It seems like there's one other word we mentioned looking up, but neither of us can remember it now.

We exited the plane in LaGuardia at about 10:10, and rushed to gate 05A, only to find our LGA-Montreal flight canceled. This was not welcomed news. The Delta agent told us to get in line to rebook. This line filled up quickly, but didn't move as the agent just kept saying to the line, "Anyone traveling to Montreal with no bags? We have 8 seats to fill on an Air Canada flight, but you can't have checked any bags on the RDU-LGA flight.

So, this line didn't move, and after about 15 minutes, she said, "Ladies and gentleman, if you're rebooking your flight to Montreal, and you have bags, you have to go downstairs, claim your bags, and then go up to ticketing to get rebooked on the next flight." Groan. Why did that other agent cause us to waste 15 minutes standing in this line?

I suggested that Steve got to ticketing, and get in line, and I'd go downstairs to get our bags. That way, if there's a line, we'll get a jumpstart in it, before the others needing to rebook arrive.

I went down to baggage claim, to the RDU-LGA baggage claim belt, and waited for our bags. Nothing. Nothing. Belt stopped. Everyone whose final destination was LGA had their bags. Left standing there, those of us who were scheduled for Montreal.

I went back up to tell Steve that "it's going to be a while," and he had moved forward about two parties worth. This line was moving incredibly slow. Everyone in the line was essentially "a problem," and it was taking forever. I went back downstairs, went to the baggage claim office, which turned out to be Northwest's, was directed to Delta's, and on the way to it ran into someone else from the flight who said, "Our luggage is way over there in the corner." I don't know how we were supposed to know that.

I retrieved our bags, took them upstairs, and joined Steve in the line. He had moved maybe one party forward. Incredible. We waited about an hour in this line. At first there were four agents helping people, but one of them kept being "fed" people from "the side," whose criteria for special treatment alluded us. Then it got busier, and one agent "left." Lunch hour? So, now, basically, there were two agents helping folks as the one was only addressing the "special line." At one point it got down to just one agent helping people, which was at about the time we were helped by "Chris."

Chris informed us that the next best flight was out of JFK at 4:20 (it was around noon now). "I'll put you on the American flight out of JFK, pay your cab fare over there, and give you lunch vouchers." The only other option was to fly back down to Atlanta, and then up to Montreal, which we declined. Chris ended up being very nice, and we were so patient that he threw in a $25 voucher each toward our next trip on Delta, and 6 free drink coupons for the flight back next Saturday.

We had to wait for the car service from LGA to JFK for about 35 minutes, but it eventually arrived, and we were taken to JFK. The cab driver was from Hawaii, and very talkative. He told us about putting two kids through "Ivy League Schools," at $60,000 a year. We both wondered why he was telling us this, and how he could afford that as a cab driver.

We got in the American line to turn in our Delta tickets for the seats reserved for us on American. The line wasn't too bad, and we were to an agent in 15 or 20 minutes. "Bad news, gentlemen. These seats weren't confirmed, and the 4:20 flight is now sold out. The best I can do is put you on the 8:40 flight." GRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

This was very bad news, but what choice did we have? We don't know if Chris didn't confirm our flights by accident, or wasn't able to. We ran into a guy who had the same thing happen to him, and he was scheduled for the 4:30 flight as well. "Maybe there was only seat left, and since you needed two, they were able to book him, but not you two." Yeah, right.

We got confirmed on the 8:20, and I asked if we could fly standby on the 4:20. After dickering around with the system a bit, Carol said, "Oh, crap. It's an international flight. That's why it won't let me put you on standby. It's an international flight, and you've checked luggage. You can't fly standby if you've checked luggage." We took our bags over to drop off at the X-ray machine, and saw that guy again, who confirmed that he did indeed get on the 4:20 flight.

We're on our third airport of the day, and we're tired and hungry. We went up to the TGIF's and had dinner, using our $20 total worth of vouchers. We had to put $15 of our dollars into paying the tab. Now all we have to do is wait 6 hours until our flight. We went through security after eating, and both got chosen to "please go over to the side" to have our bags searched, our bodies "wanded," and our patience tried.

They called the guy sitting next to me up to his bag at the table, opened a wallet looking container, and mouthed, "How much?" I believe he answered, "Six thousand dollars."

We went to the gate from which we were leaving, 40C, and sat a bit. The 4:20 flight was boarding at 40A, and they made an announcement, "Ladies and gentleman, we are asking for two volunteers to give up their seats on this flight; we're oversold. In return for your seat, you'll receive a $150 voucher to use on any future American flight, and a dinner voucher. We'll rebook you on our 8:20 flight."

Shortly after that, we left that gate area. It's a downstairs row of about four gates, and is the same place I waited for my JFK-RDU flight a month ago returing from my NYC weekend. It was hot and muggy down there.

We went in search for more comfortable place with better people-watching potential. We checked out a Starbucks, but I wanted a plug for my laptop, and there weren't any there. We took a seat by the window at Gates 46 & 47.

I caught up this journal; it's 5:10, and I'm tired. I took a nap on the floor, and when I woke up, there were two people sitting on the chairs under which I had my legs. The man on the end seat had draped his computer cord over me to reach the plug.

We boarded our 8:40 flight at about 8:15, and then sat at the gate until about 9:20. We were waiting for a couple of people making a late connection, and some piece of luggage had gotten on the plane that needed to be found and taken off. Grrrr!

We were scheduled to arrive in Montreal at 10:05, and in fact landed at about 10:20. I converted $60 to Canadian, and got $72. There was a $4.95 commission charge. We caught a cab to the hotel, and finally arrived there at 11:30. A shower for each of us was next on the agenda and highly welcomed.