Monday, February 4, 2013

Not Leavin' on a Jet Plane

Photo Credit:  Stephanie Karfelt

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standing here inside my door, I’m not leavin’ on a jet plane, I’m stuck here in ‘Iceland’ til Spring. Oh Babe, I hate to not gooooo.

Mostly though, I hate USAir.

Hate is a four letter word, and I don’t like to use it. But I’d be outright lying if I worded it any other way. I don’t ask for much in an airline; just get me there alive eventually. If my luggage makes it, I feel like I hit the lottery. My caveat being I expect to get there EVENTUALLY. Flights get cancelled due to weather, volcanoes, and bad mojo, I understand that. Once it took me three days to fly home from a place I can drive to in twelve hours. I didn’t hold it against the airline. By day three I’d pretty much given up hope of ever getting back, so it was kind of a nice surprise.

Photo Credit:  Stephanie Karfelt
As I’ve said in past blogs, getting trapped in an airport is kind of a writer’s dream. I’ve met some amazing people. I take notes. My problem is when my early morning flight is cancelled – and I’m told there isn’t another flight until tomorrow night. The weather is clear, no volcanoes, no mass cancellation, and I’m heading into a major west coast hub, not Bhutan. After some negotiation, USAir wanted to put me on a flight tomorrow with three layovers that could leave me stuck in Airport #2. Of course they don’t think I’d get stuck, on paper I should be able to make a 40 minute layover.

Thing is I’ve played Terminal F at the Philly Airport enough times to know what happens. It’s a crowded east coast airport, where even if everything is on time (on time has never happened yet, but let’s say it did) your plane won’t get to the gate and get passengers disembarked in under twenty minutes. Let’s say it does this once though, and you get off that plane without the aid of a light saber. You still couldn’t get from Terminal F to Terminal A (via Knight Bus) in the remaining minutes.

Photo Credit:  Stephanie Karfelt
Keep in mind too, that the connection leaves forty minutes after you get to that airport, which means it is boarding ten minutes after your plane hypothetically touches down. I say hypothetically because it is the only airport I’ve ever started to land in and had the plane yank back up into the air, fairly often. Apparently sometimes there are planes in the way. Of course I’m hugely in favor of erring on the side of caution in these circumstances. Yield away. I’m just explaining why this particular airport doesn’t work with short layovers.

Now I don’t mind getting stuck midway, but I’m not keen on planning for it. Because the way I approach air travel is to triple the amount of time and complications planned, and pack for that. By pack for that I mean carry it on your person, because your luggage is going to Bhutan. Books, hoodie, toothbrush, and some apples in your backpack, and ration your fluid intake for 24 hours before flying, because there is often no time for human needs.

Now I’d be willing to risk getting stuck at airport #3, which would have been Phoenix. I love Arizona. I’d happily make that my new destination, but I am actually supposed to be at a conference in San Francisco. That is where the non-refundable hotel is booked. By the way do you need a hotel room in San Francisco the next couple of days? 

Photo Credit:  Stephanie Karfelt

Of course the Phoenix layover was irrelevant, because my bones would be stuck back in Philly, like they so often are. Do you love when names are appropriate to places?  The only thing that could make Terminal F a better name is if it were in Bendover, Pennsylvania. I apologize for being crass, but this just happened. When you have to cancel due to circumstances beyond your control, in the business world that is still racked up as a failure to keep your appointments, which is a direct reflection on you or the company you’re doing business for. Besides that, now I’m stuck here in “Iceland”.

Sunny Day in "Iceland"

Epic Slinky Dogs awarded for your travel tales!  Do you have a Terminal F in your life?  How do you feel about USAir?  Please follow my blog and leave a comment to be eligible. These little guys can cheer up most travel woes, they're terrific listeners!  So am I.  Dish, like Slinky, we're all ears here in The Glitter Globe.  

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