I had a birthday on Sunday…
Having been unable to procure a London flight over my birthday so that I could visit with my hubby for the big day, he purchased a full-fare ticket to Zurich for the day. Just the day! To come see me. Isn’t that sweet?
I had been visiting with my dad just prior. (And my sister in Atlanta before that. My poor apartment must be quite lonely these days!) I flew home to DC for one night to pack my bags full of items Del requested I bring for him. And I knew there were storms coming, so I took a 10am flight the next day. No chances I was going to miss this trip due to a commuting failure!
I got to LGA at 11:30am, cabbed over to JFK and took a nap, etc. waiting around for my 4:25pm sign in. And watched as the quiet crew lounge filled with the bodies of colleagues on delayed and canceled flights. First there was a “decision” on my flight (which means a final decision will be made at that time as to whether it is canceled or not). We got the go ahead and showed at the gate, only to be told we’d gotten a new aircraft, which was then diverted into Philly. They were looking for another. Winds were at around 70mph, the rain was an avalanche of water…so we went back to the crew lounge and waited.
We waited while our flight took delay after delay after “decision” after “decision” after delay (I’ve never even seen sequential Decisions, as it is such a last-ditch effort to begin with). All around us, everyone canceled. Paris, London, Barcelona, Milan, another Paris, another London, Rome…we went from a mobbed crew lounge back down to a silent one – as we were the only flight left hanging in the balance. Why were they so damn determined to get THIS flight out? I have no idea. I can only imagine that we had diamonds in our cargo shipment or…I can’t think of anything else crazy enough. (*Skip below for airline intrigue.)
They held us until 10:30pm, sending us back to the gate for what was now the 4th time. We got on board and found water gushing into the back galley. With only 30 minutes until the pilots finally went illegal, it was not humanly possible to have Maintenance investigate, load the pax and shut the door. So, after all that, we canceled.
This – the day my hubby and I laid out $375 for a layover – was only the 2nd time in 11 years of international flying that I’ve had a flight cancel! (And Swissair was completely useless, charging us so much to salvage the ticket that we could just buy a new one for the price.) *sigh* Add to it that as we walked off the plane, some passengers found it appropriate to scream at us, calling us a$$holes and all sorts of things – as if I hadn’t been sitting around for 11 hours myself! Unpaid! With a violent storm raging all day before them. I guess we’re jerks for “not trying”?
But (for the record) I had a nice birthday anyhow, with friends. Hubby was disappointed (but I’ve popped off to the UK to surprise him for a super-quick visit. I’m exhausted, but it’s worth it!). What a way to start the year.
* Word has it that a particular flight regularly carries currency in its cargo – to Moscow. Thus, it has been called “the safest flight in the industry”. (If you were a terrorist, would you pick a plane full of money belonging to undisclosed Russians to mess with?! ) So it’s interesting to note that, on this day, when pretty much every flight canceled, this one Moscow flight loaded up passengers and circled the runway, waiting for the winds to drop enough for takeoff. The plane was rocking so hard from the winds that it gave up, returned to the gate and unloaded the passengers. While this happened to a number of flights that the airlines tried to get out that day, this flight did not actually cancel. The airline just took off the passengers, ordering the crew to fly the empty plane to Mocow anyhow.