Saturday, June 30, 2012

In an airport, everyone loses. A diary.

This is my play-by-play analysis of my latest experience in an airport, a simple flight to New York (JFK) to transfer there to Syracuse.  What a DOOZY.

10:00 pm: I arrive with my luggage, only to find a super long line to check your bags and no “online check-in” option available.  So I wait in the line, like all the other poor suckers there.  As if the airlines needed to start us on any worse of a note, as they only have 4 workers visible to the human eye. 

10:45 pm: Proceed from that line to a (thankfully) much shorter security line, where I go through the slick new machine.  As someone who has been frisked by airport workers at every single airport every single time I have tried to fly since the tender age of 11, I say to all naysayers to the new technology available in the security line: get over your privacy.  Some of us enjoy the quick 3 second scan, a much more pleasing alternative to the 10 minute patdown (“I’m going to use the back of my hand in this area…”)

11:00 pm: I arrive at my gate.  TROUBLE!  The flight has been delayed by 3 hours.  What on earth could possibly be the cause of an 11:35 departure time turning into a 2:10 am departure time?  Not a cloud in the sky.  It’s not Christmas either.  I’m too tired to find out.  I watch this cool documentary on the NBA that Shinster downloaded for me and fall asleep. 

2:00 am: Exciting news!  The plane is here.  Finally.  I also find out that the cause of our delay was that there was no available plane for us to use with a crew that hasn’t flown across the country a thousand times today (and hence cannot legally fly us to NY).   But they found a plane!  Hooray!  Finally we shall be on our way.  Flight attendant makes the preliminary “we will board the plane IN ORDER, even though everyone has a pre-assigned seat and will take an age to stuff their luggage into the overhead bins, thus eliminating any possibility of us actually changing the law of entropy on an airplane” speech, as well as a crack about waking people up so they don’t miss the flight.  I’m tired, and not very cranky (yet).

2:05 am: Very non-exciting news.  The plane is here.  The crew is new.  Except the crew is missing the pilot.  Yep.  You heard me right.  They realized the Captain is not fit to fly again (legally he cannot do anymore flying for the day), so he’s out.  Literally.  He’s probably home in bed by now, out like a light after a long day of flying.  As for the rest of us, we are left to sit and ponder 1) if we are actually going to depart by 3:00 am like they estimated, and 2) how in the DEVIL did they not figure this out sooner??? Did the plane land, and the crew got out and the new crew got there and looked around and said, “shoot, we forgot we’re a crew with no captain!”  I mean, in all seriousness… HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?  This is the equivalent of the Miami Heat showing up for the playoffs and realized they left Lebron sitting at a bus stop somewhere.  I’m actually not upset at this point – just bewildered.  The flight attendant is equally bewildered, as she stutters and stammers her way through the message that sounds something like this, “the flight, folks, is NOT cancelled, I promise maybe… there just isn’t anyone in the vicinity of Utah that can fly this plane, and the TSA is closed.  I’m sorry.”  The TSA closes at night!  How about that! 

2:10 am: It hits me at this point that my connecting flight will no longer be available (assuming we leave by 3 am) unless I literally jump out of the plane while still moving, knock the guys with the headphones off their train and speed like a Wildman across the runway, until I catch up to my connecting flight to Syracuse and hold on to the wheel Toy Story Style and head to Syracuse with my 50 pound suitcase.  So I head to the front of the gate to talk to the flight attendant.  Unfortunately, the next flight to Syracuse is 12:05 pm on Saturday, which works, but totally screws up my ride plans, but what other option did I have, Earl?  NONE!  While I’m waiting for this lady to switch my ticket (literally just like Meet the Parents – she types for about 2.5 hours before successfully switching my ticket over to a later flight, leading me to  imagine what she could possibly be typing while I waited.  Was she writing in her journal on a different screen while my ticket “buffered”?  Was she having an animated discussion on gchat with her boyfriend or husband about whose job sucks more?  Maybe she had to program my ticket in full javascript), I see a few angry people coming up to the line to let them have a piece of their mind, as if these two ladies had ANYTHING to do with the problem (answer: nothing).  Here are a few of the people I noticed as I stood up there:

Small Asian lady, continuing to cite when Jetblue did something differently to fix the current situation, despite the same apology from the flight attendant (“I’m sorry that’s just not possible, ma’am” about 8 times).

White lady with reading glasses, swearing to everyone in line that she will never fly on JetBlue again.  Hard to blame her here.  I mean, don’t you want your planes to come with pilots?  She also lets the flight attendant know that they just lost her as a customer (as if she cares at ALL).

Old man (good-natured), wondering how he will get to Boston.  When she successfully books him to a later flight, he asks, “is that one going to be delayed too?”  I laugh out loud and offer him a blue potato chip. 

Angry man (looked a lot like someone in academics), suggesting to the flight attendant that compensation is REQUIRED of all passengers and that such a situation is “egregious”.  This definitely qualifies for the word of the day, and I’m also quite sure the flight attendants didn’t know what that word means.  I did, however, almost point out to him that we were compensated in snacks, including some cookies that look and smell like cookies, but crunch like chips.  And not a good crunch either. 

Small Asian lady again.

Small Asian lady for a 3rd time.  I’m not joking.  She came up 3 times.  Her English was very good too.

More people trying to go to Boston.

Finally, I have my ticket.  The typing has stopped.  At least we would get out of her soon, I think grimly, 
although I know from my experience being within earshot of the flight attendants for the last age that we still don’t have a pilot and TSA doesn’t open until 4 (although they predicted the 3 am departure probably because she doesn’t want all Hell to break loose here – oh wait, too late).

3:17 am: We still await word as to whether or not we have a pilot.  So far, the answer is no.  This place is like a graveyard.  There are at least 8 people sprawled out on the floor as if their lives had been drained out of them.  The airport seems to be able to do this to you – I mean, it’s not that bad of a place, you get free wi-fi and all sorts of snacks, but man alive, it probably ranks as one of the top 3 least favorite places for a human to be, right after the Dentist and Hell.  How did Tom Hanks do it?  Oh yeah.  His character didn’t exist.  Oh no!  Movies are starting to blend with reality.  I’m so tired.  That’s maybe why I’m not mad yet.  Oddly enough, we are all total strangers to each other, but everyone who wants to fly to NY with me has become somewhere between stranger and intimate family member.  I feel a kinship with them, created from the terrible delay.  I glance up to the counter, and I see the small Asian lady up there.  She has set up a tent and is smoking some s’mores by the flight attendant, which would explain why she’s up there for the 4th time.  I think she’s trying to rally a mob maybe to fly the plane over to NY out of sheer willpower, hoping to give her youtube fame (as this would inevitably be filmed), possibly even nicknamed “the Asian Sensation of Aviation” or something.

4:00 am: The pilot has arrived!  He struts in like a reluctant superhero – obviously he isn’t too happy about the situation either.  Doesn’t he realize we are in peril???  As we board the plane, he reports that he has been at the airport this whole time – less than 100 yards away.  TSA is the chosen scapegoat, but who knows who is to blame.  Incompetence seems like a sure-fire winner.  I get to sit next to the lady in the reading glasses and, despite the $100 vouchers we receive as compensation, says another 2 times, “I’m never flying on JetBlue again.”  I curl up in my chair with my insanely dorky looking neck pillow around me (it’s even purple!).

I hate airports.


  1. bhaha. of course this would happen to you! my favorite part was:
    "it probably ranks as one of the top 3 least favorite places for a human to be, right after the Dentist and Hell."

  2. That ain't nothin'! Once I was stranded at an airport for 3 weeks, went into labor twice (both while inside an elevator) and then had 6 wisdom teeth removed.