Last day and the start of an incredible journey

Trip Start Sep 09, 2005
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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Saturday, October 8, 2005

Day three of the conference:

The last day. I had only one class first thing in the morning. A lot of people had already gone home. I would be going home soon too!

I got to the airport early for my 2:30 flight. I tried to catch an earlier one. They could get me out of Toronto to Cincinnati earlier, but there was no space out of Cincinnati. Little did I know even that would have been better than what was in store for me. Get ready, this is a long story.....

I kill some time in the main terminal, then head to my gate. I am on a little pretend plane so we have to be bussed to a remote terminal. I board the bus and arrive at my gate. Plenty of time, little do I know how much time I will have! I notice that a flight on American is scheduled to depart the same time as mine, but it has a notice of a delay, about hour. My Delta flight has no delay indicated. Something fishy is up. I asked the gate attendant, and the answer was that the flight was on time. Note to self: Never believe gate agents.

We board the plane and taxi out. The start of my adventure!

We sit on the plane for about 20 minutes then are told we will have a 2 hour delay. JFK has a ground stop. The pilot says he is going to take us back to the gate and we can get off the plane. This delay will cause me to miss my connection in JFK. I immediately get on the phone and get another flight taking me to Atlanta from Toronto. There are no seats from Atlanta to Orlando, but odds are usually pretty good getting on one of those flights. So, I am all set before we even get off the plane. Good plan, right? WRONG!

The captain can't get back to the gate because another plane is there. An hour later we are still sitting on the plane in a taxi way. Now the captain says JFK has opened up and we can leave. Well, this will get me there in time for my flight. OK, I can handle that. But wait, we don't have enough gas now. We have to return to the gate to get more fuel. We park. They open the door and I missed my chance to depart. The fuel truck is empty and has to go get fuel. A hour later the fuel truck pulls up - again. It doesn't look good to connect in JFK - again!

The plane was almost half full with passengers heading overseas. They were all going to have a lot of problems. I could find another flight a lot easier than they could. I call my special member services number so I can check for departure status information for all these people. I am still in Canada. My phone bill will be similar to the national debt. It doesn't look good for any of them either. Everyone starts getting restless. The captain calls for a gate agent to come out and give people an update. No one shows up. I guess I can't blame him; I wouldn't have wanted to face the growing discontent on our flight.

Finally the captain gets out of the plane and goes to the terminal and makes the fellow come to the plane. The pilot comes back to the plane with the agent in tow. I actually think he had a hold of his ear and was dragging him. Remember, this is the same gate agent that said there was no delay for this flight. He didn't look happy - well, neither one did, the pilot or gate agent. The agent tells us everything will be ok and he has taken care of it all. Well, I am sure no one believed him. We were now two hours late and hadn't taken off yet. I asked him about a flight I had found from JFK to DC and then a straight shot to Orlando. He said he would try to put me on it. I asked him how he would do that when he didn't know my name. He nearly ran out of the plane. His visit served no purpose whatsoever.

We finally take off. I am pretty sure I am missing my flight. We arrive at JFK 45 minutes before my original flight is to take off because it had been delayed also. Ok, I might just make it. We taxied to the little airplane area and got to enjoy watching any number of workers stand around and do nothing. We had to wait for a tug to pull us in further. We waited ten minutes. I still might make the flight. We waited 20 minutes - there still may be a glimmer of hope. We waited 45 minutes and I knew I was going to be on a different flight. One hour later we were pulled to the gate.

I had called and knew I was booked on a 6:00 flight to Raleigh. It was 5:45 and we were just getting off the plane. I ran to a ticket counter and got re-ticketed and found the gate for the next flight. People were in line to board. I MADE IT! Little did I know at this point my suitcase was winging it's little way in a completely different direction than me.

Editorial comment: JFK is the dirtiest airport I have been in. The people were rude and just plain nasty. I waited in line, patiently I might add, until I saw the last of the line heading through the door to my flight. I finally politely interrupted the agent who was busy filing her nails and talking about her late night plans and asked "CAN YOU PLEASE PLAN YOUR SOCIAL LIFE ON YOUR OWN TIME AND DO SOME WORK SO I MIGHT MAKE MY FLIGHT THAT IS ABOUT TO LEAVE???!!!!". She unceremoniously put her hand up in the air using the universal police sign to STOP and don't approach. Well, that didn't go over well. I said I had a nail file that might work quicker and I would trade her for a boarding pass for my flight. She finally hung up, I got my boarding pass and I kept my nail file. Good thing for her, it might have ended up stuck in one of her vital organs.

We boarded a bus to take us to our airplane. Because I was late I was last onto the bus and stood right at the front. Once on I found out the others on the bus had been waiting a hour at this point. I thought "wow, they were waiting for me?" "How amazing". Then we waited another hour. We saw a bus pull up on our left side. People got on, the bus left. We saw a bus pull up on our right side. People got on, the bus left. We were all on the bus and it didn't leave.

By now, I had enjoyed as much as I could stand. The longer we waited here the less likely I would make my connection in Raleigh. I tried to insight a riot, but everybody had already been beaten into submission. Finally, I got off the bus and yelled at a group of people standing around. All of them were wearing a bus driver uniform. I asked them, well yelled at them, and not so politely I might add "what the hell are you all doing standing around? We need to get to a plane". "Doesn't anybody work around here? If you don't want to do your job, give me the keys and I'll drive". I stepped back up into the bus and everyone applauded. Surprise, surprise! One of those people just standing around got on the bus and we headed to our plane! What frustration!

This idiot bus driver didn't have a clue. He had to stop at each plane and ask where it was headed. Others on the ground by the planes were waving him on frantically. I was trying to help him all I could. You know, in a way that probably was of no help at all. We finally reached our plane. We all ran off the bus and onto the plane. I was first on the plane (I wonder how that happened). The attendant asked what the problem was because they had been waiting for us for nearly an hour!

Once the door was closed we got to sit on the runway for another HOUR! Kiss my connecting flight to Orlando goodbye! I resolved myself to that fact and settled in. We had Gestapo lady as a flight attendant. Sit down, move your purse. No smiling, no laughing. Only breathe when I tell you to. Other than the military police on board the flight was fine. Once we touch down I get out my phone to call to see if by chance my next flight had also been delayed. The police lady yelled at me to put my phone away. I mentioned, ever so politely, that the plane was on the ground and heading to the terminal. She argued with me while the man next to me turned on his phone and made a phone call. I asked her if the rules were for women only, or just those she thought she could take in hand to hand combat. She didn't laugh.

Well, surprise, surprise - again. I missed my next flight. I asked the gate agent when I would get my voucher for a hotel. She said I was welcome to spend the night in the airport. I said that wasn't in my plans. She said I had to change my plans. I said she better change hers. I think she saw my tenuous hold on sanity and took me to another counter where I got my voucher for a hotel room. I wasn't going to use it, but I WON!! That was my goal.

I went to the luggage area because hope springs eternal. Did I really think my suitcase was going to show up? Silly me. Can you guess? It didn't. I put in a claim with a really nice agent. She really wasn't doing anything other than entering the data into the lost baggage system, but she did it with such empathy I almost felt better.

I called the Holiday Inn and they had room and sent a shuttle to pick me up. It was pouring down rain. My umbrella was in my suitcase. I made it to the hotel. No problem. I asked for every free thing they could give me. Among other things, I got a razor and shaving cream. I must have looked rough by now, but did I need a shave?

To be continued.....
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