Have you ever been delayed and stuck at the airport just dying to get home? Here are some tips and side notes I have now accumulated after experiencing the worst travel delay ever!!
(1) A glass of wine really does solve everything!
(2) It pays to be an American Express platinum member to take advantage of the sky club: comfortable chairs, nice restrooms, a place to pump, and a glass of wine to ease the frustration of delay, after delay, after delay, then finally cancellation!
(3) You should wear comfortable shoes (at least carry some socks in your bag), carry a sweater or scarf that can double as a blanket, and a manual breast pump if lactating!
(4) Pray to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost and stolen articles. This worked for me!
(5) In the words of a NYC taxi driver, “You can’t leave New York with out getting screwed over just a little bit!” But there ARE angels out there (95% are Southern)!
(6) Sometimes you just have to close your eyes and trust in those who don’t look trustworthy!
(7) Carry a toothbrush in your purse.
After a lovely weekend in NYC for my dear friend’s wedding, I was anxious to get home to see my babies and my husband! The weather was not cooperating, so my Mom and I stuck it out ALL night in two different New York airports! Now don’t get me wrong, if there is bad weather, I don’t want to fly! But, let’s be accommodating, PLEASE!
Let me start by saying, there is a huge difference between the North and South! I married a Rhode Islander and he concurs! Attitude! Attitude! Attitude! My Mom and I were stuck at JFK airport with birds flying around (the 3rd worst airport in the world). The people working there must hate their jobs! They don’t care about you one bit; they just see another problem and they try to pawn you off on someone else.
We were pawned off from one airport worker to another five different times, five different lines! There were children in the middle of the night scrunched up crying on uncomfortable chairs and no offers of blankets, food, water, nothing but, “WAIT IN LINE!” A couple who had just returned from Italy after having their baby baptized, had been up 24 hours and there was no concern about their little baby, no hotel room offered! Like pulling teeth I tell you!
All the work is done by the passenger when asked, “What’s another city you could fly into instead of Dallas.” They expected us to have ESP of what was on the computer! The best we could do was leave JFK in the middle of the night for LaGuardia (the other NY airport) to wait for a flight to Memphis the next morning then a connecting flight to Austin to arrive in the late afternoon! Ridiculous! But the best part, they suggested we rent a car and drive back to Dallas!! Is your mouth open yet?
Up longer than I can remember (and I’ve had jet lag before, I also have two babies, so I’ve gone without a lot of sleep). I’d much rather sleep on the plane, but when you need to sleep you sleep! I’m not a college kid anymore roughing it because I’m young and invincible!
What I saw at JFK were older people sleeping in wheelchairs, luggage carts, and on the floor. People of all ages were seen stretched out at the airport because of delays and lack of hotel availability. We would have gone back to the city to spend the night had we been canceled earlier, but it would have been silly to get a room for just three hours of sleep with an hour to and from the airport.
At 3:00 AM we walked down a ramp outside the airport to get a taxi in the pitch dark with nobody around. We got into the only taxi there only to realize after he started driving off, it was a little suspicious looking! There was no meter! The taxi driver offered us a cold beer from his cooler that was sitting on the console! My Mom was freaking out! But he was an angel in disguise!
He drove us to an all night drug store in the deep dark bowels of Queens, NY to buy a breast pump since mine was in my bag that had been checked and they wouldn’t give me. I was not ready and willing to dry up by choice! Well, the beer drinking Italian taxi driver pulled through for us! Grazie mille!
The bathroom at LaGuardia was blocked off at 3:30AM. I was kicked out when I tried to sneak in because I REALLY needed to pump! My Mom and I ended up sitting on a luggage cart because the janitors blocked off chairs for themselves while they were on break!
Let me give you a picture! I’m dressed up coming from my friend’s post wedding brunch wearing my favorite pair of Manolos, clutching a very nice handbag, and in a cute sundress! This is not an outfit for a delayed then cancelled flight or a beer drinking taxi tour of the city that never sleeps!
Finally, we made it to Memphis and there was a total attitude change for the better! The first person we saw, Pearl, who looked at us with genuine concern and said, “Let me see what I can do for you!” Pearl, the angel from Memphis, got us a flight home Dallas that afternoon. Until then we waited in the luxurious, comfortable Sky Club.
You know how you always meet interesting people in your travels. Well, we had a long time to get to know several! Another angel, we nicknamed St. Matthew, had just flown in from Lisbon. Matthew, like us, had his flight canceled. It was his birthday, he was tired, but anxious to share pictures and stories about his wonderful trip chaperoning a bunch of high school kids on a European vacation.
We also met a family from Montréal, who spoke French (bien sur) and very little English. The five year old little girl understood my French and asked me to button up her sweater while the Mom watched on approvingly. I also borrowed a cell phone charger from a nice young man from Atlanta at JFK and later again in Memphis from a Sky Club workers husband who she called to bring it to her at work just for me! God bless the South!
You usually hear these horror stories around the holidays, but airports can be a bitter enemy even in the summer with all the thunderstorms! I was starting to feel like a lion in a cage, sitting in chairs and luggage carts all day and night! Yes, that first glass of wine did solve everything, but after I finished it, I needed a bed!
My Mom and I finally arrived home 24 hours later than we were supposed to. Anxious to grab our bags and get going! Surprise!! There are no bags to collect! My bag was in Oklahoma City, my Mom’s came on a later flight from who knows where! We checked our baggage Sunday afternoon at JFK; the airlines delivered the bags to my house Wednesday night.
My grandmother told me to pray to Saint Anthony, Patron Saint of Lost and Stolen Articles. It worked and I’m happy to end this chapter.
What have I learned? Passengers should have the right to receive timely and accurate information about delayed, diverted and canceled flights. But, I think most importantly, airline workers should be sympathetic, make an effort to smile and say I’m sorry for your delay, and offer a blanket or a cell phone charger. Home is where we all want to be after the trip is over! Really, “there really is no place like home!”