This is not something that you want to see…..
Generally, I stick to the 30% rule of air travel. 30% of the time, something happens to send your carefully planned trip down the rat hole. My trip home from Rio did not disappoint me. The easiest way to get home is to fly to Miami and take a flight from there to Philadelphia. One stop to clear customs and then home. Simple, right? I was glad that the trip was an easy one because I was leaving for St. Croix on a dive trip with my friends the next morning. The only problem is that I arrive in Miami at 4 and the trip to PHL is at 10:30, so I have 6 hours i Miami with nothing to do.
Friday am, weather delays effectively shut down the Philadelphia airport. The 10:30am flight to PHL was cancelled, likely because the early flight from PHL to Miami didn’t leave. I didn’t find this out until I walked up to the Miami gate at 10, expecting to board – nobody was there. I was able to find a gate agent that explained to me that I had been re-booked on a flight that was scheduled to leave around 11pm. Huh? Arriving at PHL at sometime after one, getting home around two, and my buddies were scheduled to pick me up at 5. Oh, and I still had to pack. I walked away from the gate agent very disappointed.
I’m having problems uploading pictures again, so I’ll just type and add them later, if I can….
I went back to the counter and asked for a flight to JFK. There was one scheduled to leave at 12:30, and I asked if there was space. Of course, JFK was hit y the same storm, so they were canceling New York flights as well. Standby status was the best that I could hope for. So, I had to wait a few more hours for a flight that may or may not take me to New York, where I would have to take Amtrak home. I did that last month when Delta changed my flight.
To make a long story short (something I should probably do more often here), the plane departed 4 hours late, and they accepted only three standby passengers (out of 60 on the list). I was number 3 – because of my AAdvantage Platinum status. Arriving at JFK, I waited at the luggage carousel for my checked bag. Nope, it didn’t make it. I really wasn’t surprised, but I was a little irritated at the waste of an hour at the carousel. Air Train to the LIRR, LIRR to Penn Station, and then I find out that Amtrak was having problems as well, and many of the trains were not moving – of course, I didn’t see that until after I had purchased my ticket. Fortunately, most of the affected trains were the ones heading north. The train that I was on was only about 20 minutes late, so at about 8:00pm, I was rolling towards Wilmington (without my luggage, and really late). I arrived at the Wilmington train station and walked home carefully through the slushy remains of the storm, arriving at home a little after ten. Only 8 hours after I had planned to be there.
Big surprise! The dishes are done, the house doesn’t smell like smoke and I’m happy with my son for a change. I take a shower, make some coffee and get stuff together for the dive trip. I really want to go to sleep, but I’ve got things to do. Finally, I can think about sleep. When I turn back the covers, I see that SOMEONE HAS BEEN SLEEPING IN MY BED!!!! Now some folks might not be too upset by this, but I had changed the sheets just before I left, knowing that I would be in a hurry when I returned. Andrew had let a friend of his sleep in my bed while I was gone (or maybe he slept there himself, I don’t know). Clean sheets for the bed, the old ones in the washer and I call my son, letting him know that I was a little upset. Okay, I screamed at him and then hung up – I was tired and upset… Finally got to bed about one, setting the clock for 4:45.
Ugh, up and in the shower, hours before I should have. John knocks on the door a minute after I step into the shower, so I open the door all drippy and go back upstairs to finish. Mark is with him and we load up my stuff and head back to PHL for an uneventful on-time takeoff for our flight to San Juan.
Mr Murphy, who I am already well acquainted with, decides to pay us another visit. We arrived at San Juan, Puerto Rico just before noon, expecting to leave at 4pm for St. Croix. The board showed a half-hour delay for the flight. It stretched to an hour, but we were eventually boarded on the little turboprop plane for the 37 minute flight to St Croix (it’s 90 miles). The plane takes off after another half-hour delay – we were waiting for our turn to leave – one of the runways at San Juan is being improved, so the takeoffs and landings were sharing the same one.
Whew, we finally take off and the engines start supplying air-conditioning to the now very sweaty passengers. After about ten minutes, the plane circles and heads back to the airport. The captain announces that there’s a small problem with a DC generator that will take 5 minutes to reset. We get off the plane after being warned to take all of our luggage (a bad sign) and back to the terminal building. This flight is eventually canceled and we are scheduled on the last flight to St Croix, leaving just before 9pm. Many people didn’t make it, but once again my Platinum status gets us on the plane. This plane left late as well, but we eventually landed in St Croix about 10pm, only about six hours after we were scheduled to be there.
Budget was closed – we had a reservation there for a mini-van for the week ($500!!). Avis was still open, so we gave them our business, leaving with a brand new Corolla (70 miles on it) that I think we’ll keep for the week. We also saved almost $200 over the minivan. Sorry, Budget – you shouldn’t close before the last flight gets in…..
We arrived home sometime after eleven and went to bed. Three days of this, and I need a vacation. We dove the pier on Sunday and had a great time – more about that later.
Good things: AAdvantage status, Avis rent a car, helpful airline personnel that did the best that they could.
Bad things: Puerto Rico’s airport (just bad), snowstorms, Budget St Croix, my slept-in bed (grrrr). I really can’t fault American Airlines, they did the best that they could. Even the trains were late…
More about diving in Paradise later,