Back in the States, it’s plane chaos

Written by admin on December 24, 2008 – 12:31 pm -

I hate to bitch and moan – but here goes. Yes, the weather has been terrible and there’s been a pyramid effect impacting planes taking off and arriving. The airports have been bedlam and filled with people trying to get to their chosen destinations for the holidays. The weather gods have not been kind.

But that doesn’t diminish my irritation with the lack of communication airline personnel give passengers or are supplied by their organizations. To compound the normal travel chaos and my ultimate sense of disappointment, I was receiving messages on my Blackberry advising me that “all was well” after I landed.

According to all of the electronic messages, I was informed electronically I was going to sleep in my bed, after a nearly-20-hour flight from Hong Kong. Here in the good old USA, my problems started.

My plane from Seoul, Korea arrived at Kennedy Airport only seven minutes late. I had nearly two hours to get through customs, collect my baggage and take the SkyTrain to the United terminal.

My heart was beating. I can’t tell you how delighted I was that I was in time for my connecting 9:30 flight to Washington/Dulles Airport. The United representative who issued my boarding pass assured me I was living under a lucky star.

All went well at JFK until I I arrived at the gate only to be told that my flight was going to be nearly two hours late and the plane that was about to depart was oversold. And forget it, there wasn’t a chance in hell there would be a single seat.

Feeling exhaustion consuming my body, I asked if I could postpone my departure until the following day. Sure, they told me, but I’d lose my ticket and would have to be rebooked. And who’s to say there would be an available ticket? That option seemed out of the question.

OK — all was not lost. I’m a member of the Red Carpet Club. I paid for this privilege in the event I encounter such situations. Off I went only to find it closed at 8:30 p.m. Perhaps I’m rigid but why do I think the club should remain open until the last flight has departed?

Luckily, I ran into a friend who was London bound. He took pity on me and invited me to be his guest in the British Air lounge. Until the airline’s last flight departed, I could have a drink, something to eat and fire off emails on one of their computers.

The BA lounge reminds me of those in Europe and Asia and it doesn’t leave clients with the feeling they’re lucky if they can grab a cup of coffee or glass or something non-alcoholic. If you want a drink, expect to pay $6 for a tiny pour.

The United Express flight was further delayed to the point that the pilot apologized more than once, explaining that the flight was late leaving Roanoke, Va., before proceeding to D.C. and continuing to Kennedy to make a fast turn-around to DC.

As we departed at 1 a.m., my adrenalin was in high gear. Thank goodness the flight was fast or I might have suffered cardiac arrest.

Once on the ground, the next step was collecting the luggage (thank goodness it was there) and racing to the taxi line. Naturally, taxis aren’t forming long lines at 2:30 a.m.

When one appeared I wanted to kiss the driver and, naturally, I was delighted when he arrived at my holiday abode.

After thinking about it before falling into bed, I realized it has taken seven hours to travel between Kennedy and my final destination. The trip between Hong Kong and Seoul was substantially shorter and included a gourmet meal.

If I’m not making 100% sense, it’s because I’m suffering extreme jet lag. But tomorrow is Christmas Eve, so I have to get my act together. It’s when our family celebrates all together.

I wouldn’t miss seeing the smiles on my grandchildren’s faces for love nor money. They’ll have to forgive me if their presents aren’t perfectly wrapped.

Karen Fawcett is president of BonjourParis. She wishes everyone a happy holiday season.


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