Monday, April 13, 2009
Dear Delta, I hate you.
This is the story. Of two strangers. Who took a 3-hour road trip together. Because their flight was canceled.
Hopefully someone actually caught that Real World reference. I don't even know why I made it. I haven’t watched Real World since “the slap heard round the world”. Good times.
Let's talk about how awful airlines are. First of all, I hate flying on any airline other than American Airlines or Jet Blue. I have like some legitimate reasons for why I feel this way, but mostly it's just because I’m crazy. I mean obviously Jet Blue is superior to all other airlines because it has personal TVs on every flight. I mean, what could beat that? Free alcohol? Touché. I will put all the airlines out of business when I launch my airline, Party On Air… Wasted Air? Sounds like an 90s band.
I'm a nervous flier, and for some reason I feel WAYYYYYYYYY safer on AA or JB as opposed to ohhh... I dont know... let's kick this off with my experience with Delta two weekends ago: I was flying on Delta to DC for the weekend (out of Laguardia, which I HATE with a passion and will never fly out of again) but I did it because the tickets were cheap on priceline.com... and I'm Jewish. So it was a match made in heaven... Until....
I arrive to the airport for my Friday evening flight. I like to think of myself as a seasoned traveler. I try to arrive at the last minute possible for my flights so that I don’t have to sit and wait in the airport, because I hate it there. And I have never missed a flight. True story. So I obviously printed out my boarding pass from work (because if you wait until you get to the airport to check in you should probably just stop reading this because I want nothing to do with you) and I notice there is no assigned seat on my boarding pass. I was like hm, priceline is pretty ghetto (although their William Shatner commercials are lol material), maybe they just save like the last seats for the poor people / idiots who decide to book their tickets through a third party vendor (Booking through third-party vendor is just stupid). So I let it slide. I get to the gate and to my dismay the flight isn’t boarding yet. So I take a seat and wait, get up at one point to get a $4.50 Fiji water from Starbucks, such a bargain.
So they announce boarding for my flight and I go to get on. The gate agent informs me to stand to the side with the other rejects who also don't have assigned seats. The gate agent looked like a bizarro/chonga version of Ellen Barkin but young and Latina and I couldn’t stop staring at her. I'm pretty sure she was wearing a wig. So I'm just standing infront of the gate staring into this freakshow's eyes, waiting for her to clear us for boarding. I think I asked her like 3 separate times if I could board. Maybe 4.
At one point this genius asks her co-gate agent "Yo, how do you check how many bags are on board again?" Um... isn't this something you should know!?!?!?! I mean I don’t know what I’m doing at work half the time either, but seriously, get your act together lady. Then finally, FINALLY, she looks at the 4 rejects and goes "Ok, OK, your seats have been assigned.” And as she’s printing out our seat assignments she says: “Hurry, hurry! The plane is leaving!" ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? I was the first person to attempt to board the plane, and now you're telling me to hurry? You have got to be out of your mind. In the world of human-to-human interaction this is just unacceptable. I was so angry at her I thought my heart was going to spontaneously combust in my chest. I’m still mad I didn’t at least say “Are you serious?” to her.
Not to mention that on the flight that left the gate before mine, this same fake/latina Ellen Barkin somehow let someone from the later flight to Wilmington board on the early flight to Wilmington. And there was all this hubbub and calling back and forth to tell this woman to get off the plane and to get her bags out of checked baggage, and then when she comes up the runway/gateway or WHATEVER it's called, Ellen Barkin looks at her and goes "You're back on the flight! Run! Run! Run!" Really? REALLY???? When I saw that happen I knew I was in for an adventure. Their infrastructure is less organized than a 5-year old’s lemonade stand business.
So the weekend goes by and Sunday rolls around. Everyone else that I’m with leaves to take the bus back to NYC and I head to the Metro to go to the airport. As I’m on the Metro I get a call from a 1-800 number. I pick it up and it’s DELTA with an automated message that my 2:10 pm flight has been delayed until 5:00pm. I get off the Metro and go to my friend’s house to hang. I would rather gauge my eyes out with a hot spoon (Slumdog-style) than sit in an airport for an extra 3 hours. So 3:20 rolls around and I’m starting to entertain the idea of taking the Metro back to the airport when Delta calls me again. I put the call on speaker-phone for my friends to listen to… and the automated voice announces the flight is departing at 4:20.
My heart drops because I had JUST been bragging about how I’ve never missed a flight and I thought it was way later than 3:20. So my friend drove me to the airport and when I get to the terminal my flight number is not on the TV screen of information… I started freaking out… until I realized I was looking at Arrivals instead of Departures. I start to calm down as I walk over to the Departures screen… where my flight is still not listed, at which point I pick my freak out right back up, aka my heart is pounding, I am sweating uncontrollably and my eyes are darting nervously around the terminal as I try to figure out my next move. I find some bootleg Delta ticket counter that says it’s for DC-Laguardia shuttle only (I’m flying into JFK) and wait in line and ask them what gate I’m at. Luckily the flight has not left yet and is at Gate 22. Phew.
My heart continues to pound and I continue to drip sweat as I wait in line behind 3 people, for an inordinately long amount of time, to go through security. I speed walk to the mysterious Gate 22, which is, of course, the last gate in the terminal, and when I get there the screen has no information about my flight. The gate agent informs me that my flight will now be leaving at 4:50. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
At that point my body was actually exhausted from the amount of panicking I had just done and from the amount of water I had lost from sweating. So I decided taking a Xanax was my best option. It was. I calmed down, boarded my flight (they gave me a seat this time and I was literally the first person on the plane, it was a great feeling… but don’t worry, it didn’t last too long.) and settled in for a nap.
The one thing I enjoyed about this flight was how informed the pilot kept us. I like to have as much information as possible so I can decide for myself if the plane is about to plummet out of the sky and we’re all going to die. But the pilot would say “we’ll be off the ground in 3 minutes” and then get back on a minute later and say, “New York has just advised us to stay on the ground for another 30 minutes”. It was really bizarre. But I hate when pilots lie, and they lie a lot. Why are you lying? Just hit me with the truth. I can’t yell at you or physically assault you or anything, the cockpit (haha, cockpit) door is locked for your safety.
We take off around 5:30, fly for 20 minutes, and then the pilot announces we’ve entered a holding pattern that is supposed to last for 30 minutes because New York now has zero visibility. And he goes “But I doubt it will last the whole 30 minutes”. An hour later he tells us we need to fly up to Albany to refuel. We land in Albany and he comes out of the cockpit to address a plane of about 42 empty seats and 8 passengers. He apologizes for everything that’s happened (it was so nice of him, I wanted to hug him) and says we should take our stuff off of the plane and stretch our legs.
As soon as we get into the terminal he announces that air traffic control has cancelled our flight into New York. Awesome. It’s 7:30 on Sunday night and I am now in Albany. This is when I hear one of my co-passengers say that he has to be at work tomorrow morning and he’s going to rent a car. I don’t know what got into me, because this is sooooooo not me, but I went up to him and asked, “Would you mind if I came along?” I just didn’t have the energy or the patience to deal with arranging a hotel and waking up at 5am for a 6am flight and feeling like shit all day. And I’m a night person, so I figured might as well get the traveling out of the way ASAP. We stop for a bite to eat at Mo’s (Welcome to Mo’s!!!!!) and I got a Margarita. I thought maybe getting some tequila flowing through my veins would calm me down. It kind of did, until we start driving through a torrential downpour and the windshield wipers on the passenger’s side barely worked. So instead of being able to watch where we’re going and attempt to monitor the driving abilities of this stranger, I stared out a blurry window that I could see nothing out of.
At first we didn’t talk that much. Then as the rain eased up we had some conversations. He’s married with 4 kids, all in their 20s and he lives on Long Island and is a Radiologist. Definitely a Jew. And his nephew wrote the book that Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist was based on. I had just seen that movie the week before so I was really excited about that little tid-bit of information. For the final 45 minutes we were mostly silent because we were both dying to get out of the car. Don’t worry, there’s a final twist in this story that makes my journey ever more unbearable. From the beginning my “driver” informed me he wasn’t driving into the city, he was driving to JFK because that’s where his car is parked. That’s fine, I’ll just take a cab. But as we approach the airport he says “I still have to drive another hour home, so I’m just going to drive straight to the Hertz lot”. So you’re going to leave a girl in her 20s at the Hertz rental car lot at midnight on a Sunday? How exactly would you feel, sir, if someone did that to your daughter? I imagine not too good.
So I got on the AirTrain, which is seriously my favorite mode of transportation, and take it on over to Terminal 1. Well it’s almost 12:30 and Terminal 1 is almost empty, so there are no cabs there. Instead of going back to the AirTrain I decide to just walk to Terminals 2/3. There isn’t exactly a sidewalk to do that on. So I was walking through the street and at one point had to run so I wasn’t hit by an available cab, which wouldn’t let me get in because I had to go wait in the taxi line. And so we reach the end of my weekend, a $55 cab ride that got me home at 1pm. From DC. To New York.
Wait for it…
I had to fly out of Laguardia on US Air to Richmond a mere 4 days later. Thank God I was at least with friends this time. Our flight got cancelled. I decide our only viable option is to rent a car. We drive to Richmond on Thursday night from Laguardia and arrived at 4:30am Friday. THE END!