My wife and I were real excited to go on this trip to the Caribbean for a big reason, we have not been on a vacation since August of 2011. We each have changed jobs over the past year and taking time off was just not possible as we each tried to get established in our new positions. Add to that length of no R&R was the fact that a lot of the utility and benefits of that last vacation were wiped out by the plane ride home.
You see our last vacation we flew the kids up to Ocean City, NJ. We could do this as US Air owed us a trip after we cancelled our flights that we made 3 weeks before we found out Skylar was going to be born back in 2010.
Well on that last flight home, US Air neglected to send a plane to take us.
You see we were to fly out of Philly. It rained real hard that day. It turned out that it rained real hard up and down the east coast. The flight that was supposed to take us home that Sunday was never able to leave the ground in New York, due to all the rain. This was Sunday afternoon around 12:00 noon. I HAD to be at work Monday by 5:00am and now no way to cover those 600 miles to get home.
It was very stressful. Daddy had to stand in line and then bargain to get a flight the same day. Staying overnight was not an option. Mom had the tougher job of pacifying an 18 month and 3.5 year old little girls that desperately needed a nap in an airport. At 3:00pm we were at our end.
We ended up finding a flight that landed at the closest airport some 6 hours later. We found a friend to go pick us up there and we got home around 11:00pm. We did. Or luggage didn’t. No one told our luggage that our flight was cancelled and it showed up in Charleston the next day. All in all not very amusing.
But that trip was far in the past. Just a memory of what could go wrong, not that it ever would again. Right?
Last week he had to hop on a ‘puddle jumper’ to Miami from Charleston. The international trip began at 7:00am in Charleston. So get there with plenty of time. Right?
We all woke up around 4:30am. We got showered, dressed, breakfast(ed). As I am finishing up poor Dylan walks in my bathroom, her head held down. She says, “Daddy…this is a disaster.”
“Huh? What do you mean Dylan? Why is this a disaster?”
She said, “Getting up this early. This is a disaster.” ~preachin’ to the choir girl!
“Well maybe you both can sleep on the plane Dylan.” I hope, I hope, I hope.
The girls didn’t sleep but they did pretty good and we were proud of them. The last time Skylar was on a plane she was 18 months old with an ear infection. This trip had to be better than that? Right?
She and Dylan both did great. As much as they love to spot planes in the sky, they each were unimpressed as the plane’s wheels left the ground at takeoff. In fact, Dylan pulled the window down. The rising sun was too bright for her eyes.
We landed in Miami and hustled to our next terminal, got on the plane and prepared to be vacationed. No problem mon.
We taxied out to the runway and then we sat. And we sat. And we sat. Are we waiting for takeoff I wondered? Then, the pilots voice came over the loud speaker, “Attention passengers…we have a warning light on our dashboard so we are going to have to turn around and get it checked out.
And we sat. Can you imagine what runs through your mind when the pilot says we have to fix your plane? Especially through all the waiting and no communication?
Finally the plane began to taxi back to the American Airlines terminals.
And we sat.
The pilot’s voice came over the intercom again, “Well we have made it back to the bays but now we are waiting for one to open up. All the bays are full. As soon as we get word one is available we will head over. Please stay seated with your seat belts on.”
“Did you hear that Dylan? Skylar?” Yea, good luck with that!
And we sat. We had enough time on hands to wonder why this mysterious warning light on the dashboard didn’t come on before we pulled away from our terminal?
Actually we were still quite pleased with the behavior of our girls. They had not cried or whined. Mommy did a great job of prepping their carry-on bags with some great kid activities. No more disaster in Philly! Right?
Another twenty minutes went by and we started to roll again. We had to taxi over to the other side of the airport where a terminal became available. The pilot’s voice came on, “Well we found a bay to get repairs. When we come to a stop we will let you disboard so you can stretch your legs. The repairs should take about an hour so meet back at this terminal in 60 minutes.” Only an hour I thought?
And we sat.
It turns out nobody told the maintenance man where we were or he didn’t have a ride over. Eventually they did let us leave the plane. We grabbed our carry-ons and the kids and tried to find something to eat. We rode the skytrain at Miami International, hit the restrooms and found our way back to our new terminal, where we sat. Well Dylan and Skylar didn’t. They were either climbing the windows or laying on the carpet by the terminal doors now.
Eighty minutes went by from our unboarding when a voice finally came over our terminal.
“Well flight 1491 we have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that it is going to take longer to fix your plane then we originally thought. The good news is that we found another plane for you to take you to paradise. You can board that new plane now. It is at terminal 6. If you have not grabbed your carry-ons please pick them up from this plane before you head down to terminal 6 and your new plane. No worries, no cry”
Well he didn’t actually sing the Bob Marley song but he did say paradise, which sure wasn’t the interior of an American Airlines jet!
We were at terminal 46. OK, here we go. We were familiar with the airport by now. We opted to hoof it to the new terminal instead of climbing the stairs up to the sky train (this was good!)
The four of us had made it all the way down to terminal 30 when a voice came over the airport’s intercom, “Attention flight 1491, your plane is now ready. Head back to your plane and prepare for takeoff.
REALLY!? Is this a joke?
So we restepped our path back to the terminal, stood in line, and prepared to board.
We found our seats, strapped in and prepared for our overdue trip to Jamaica. We really should have been at our resort by now! Step up American Airlines!
It turns out those that rode the skytrain down to terminal 6 missed the call back to the plane. So we had to wait for everyone on the flight to make it back. We sat.
It turns out American Airlines never staffed terminal 6. The handful of people that made it down there waited and no was there to tell them they were at the wrong place. We sat in our airplane’s seats a total of another 40 minutes waiting for the very last passenger to make it back to the plane.
Well they eventually did. We DID taxi to the runway. We DID take off this time. As the plane’s wheels left the ground the passengers all erupted in a sarcastic round of applause. Dylan had nailed it, “Disaster”.
You may know the rest of the story and our License To Chill. We landed in Jamaica some five hours late, found our ground transportation waiting for us, rode to Runaway Bay and then were “Wow’ed” with our reservation’s upgrade, chocolate cake and champagne.
Upon departure, EACH of our flights on the way home were delayed from the incoming flight being a late arrival as well, making our wait and traveling day that much longer. Again. But it did give us some time to goof at the airports!
American Airlines, being the international airline that they are, really did step up. We all received emails saying they were giving us an additional 40,000 miles on our frequent flyer accounts. As if?
I think I am trying US Air next time. I never thought I would be saying that again.
So tell me,
What has been your worst travel story?
What has been your funniest?