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.  


  1. I have traveled ever since I was seven years old, when my family moved to Thailand. I've taken a million different airlines (United being the worst) but the best is definitely Singapore Air. Very nice and friendly! Of course, land is the best, I'm not a fan of having 1 square foot to yourself for 12 hours! haha :)

  2. I think the longest layover was when I was about 6. We spent 12-16 hours in one airport waiting to leave. At least, I think that's what I'm told. I don't remember much more than being bought a large thing of ice cream and told to play on the floor with my brother.

    I hate air travel. I hate travel. I love a good destination though. I tend to get airsick, name it, I will get sick traveling by it. Last time my family went to Hawaii I spent the entire flight home throwing up in between planes. Now I'm going to Israel - that's longer than 9 hours on one plane.
    Every time I think about it, my stomach lurches.

    But the destinations have always been worth it. I've never missed a plane, or been canceled on, though my boss has, and I plan all his travel.

  3. My latest travel story wasn't exactly a layover, though it took 11 hours. We were traveling with a LARGE group; 125 high school students and their parents. Plane number one left at 5. Plane number two left at 11pm. Guess what plane we were on? We got to the airport at noonish, everyone checked in and then we waited...and waited...and waited...then we got on a plane for 8 hours...BUT! Once we got to London, we couldn't crash. They said "DONT SLEEP UNTIL NIGHT or you will never acclimate!" So we walked around London, then waited...and waited...and waited...I was never so happy to see a bed in my life! Until we got back home and then I actually cried when I tucked my blistered feet and aching bones into my own glorious bed and slept for three weeks.
    Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Every moment was full of writing fodder. I tucked every sight sound and syllable into my longterm memory. Can't wait to go again. Greece anyone?

  4. Lydia - Right? And one gets very territorial over that one square foot of space, don't they?

  5. Note to self: Meet Kelsey at destinations. ;)

  6. LaDonna *raises hand*
    I'm interested!

  7. I've always enjoyed travelling. Almost always.

    The first time i flew was in 1964; looking back through the ages, perhaps one of the Wright brothers was pilot...? We went to Spain for a holiday. Loved it.

    In the late Seventies i commuted between the West Coast of Canada and Scotland while attending a boarding school in the latter. Flew back and forth three times a year. Loved it.

    In the current century i've flown the Atlantic several times for family reunions, funerals, weddings and immigration purposes. Loved it, each time.

    You may notice i skipped over two decades, there. Here's why: In 1989 we went from Southern Indiana to the UK to Rome and back. With our daughter. One year old. And she got ill in the UK. We spent time (probably seven hours, but it felt like fifteen years) in Gatwick Airport looking after a baby with, to put it delicately, flow from both ends. That was without question the worst time i have ever spent in an airport; we were worried, fretting, dirty, stinky, and running out of diapers quickly.

    Other than that, love flying, love it.

  8. Not a fan of air travel - especially post9-11. Too many rules and regulations. I am the queen of overpacking and I really need all these toiletries, oh and MY OWN blow dryer. Hotel hair dryers? I might as well dry my hair in a toaster oven!
    There have only been two times I was really scared to fly. First was when we were circling over Washington DC and the flight crew is announcing that they think they might be able to get the landing gear to work. What!??! Second was a month ago when hubby, in his infinite wisdom, decided it wasn't worth $200 more for the direct flight. So we have a layover (time management was fine though) in Washington. Our connecting flight is called and the plane is a 28-30 seat prop plane. THE flight attendant ( yes there was only one) barely spoke English, could only occasionally get the PA system to work and couldn't close the overhead compartments without a physical struggle. Then, in broken English on a semi-functioning announcing system, she told us we would have to change seats to evenly distribute the passenger weight for take-off! WE ARE GONNA DIE! Over $200! You cheap ...... By the way, it was United. Usually we have pretty good luck with them. Liked it better when it was Continental (before the merger) because there were more direct flights available.
    Next time drive to my house and I will drive you to Cleveland-Hopkins Airport. Way better than Philly!

  9. Dear Elsie - Pray tell how you feel about the Charles de Gaulle airport? I notice you left it out and have reason to believe you have blocked it.

  10. Dear Mel - Awesome, awesome, awesome, you have now given me another blog idea. Commuter airlines. It is necessary to take a prop plane in or out of Iceland*, so I am very familiar with them. As a matter of fact on my last commuter trip, I had the unique experience of carrying a toilet seat up the aisle. I <3 commuter planes. "We don't care what falls off as long as it is inside the plane" that's our motto!

  11. That wasn't the travel that was awful; that was the French doing the Americans' dirty work for them. INS are, simply put, among the most evil people in the world, and the Frogs they use at Charles de Gaulle are very close.

  12. Hilllarious! Thanks Stephanie! Love your writing!

  13. And the Epic Slinky Dog winner is Bonnie Lacy - Please contact me privately with your mailing info! Congratulations!

  14. And the Epic Slinky Dog winner is Bonnie Lacy - Please contact me privately with your mailing info! Congratulations!

  15. Linnette sent me,
    I am her Mom!


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