Saturday, December 22, 2007

Flight from Hell

I mean, I really did it to myself. I've never had much problem with flying the friendly skies, but get a load of the whale of a tale I experienced in the last few days.

Thursday (departure day)
9am - Wake up to another day of falling snow. Heavy falling snow. Snow is falling so hard that Brenda's car does a downhill half-spin as she takes me to work.
2pm - Snow is still falling heavily. I'm anxious about my flight; surely planes don't leave in this type of weather? Airline websites say there are slight delays, but nothing major.
6pm - Dad (the travel guru) gave the green light on heading to the airport--we agreed that I needed to get out of Boston and as far West as possible.
6:30pm - Arrive at the airport. It's a ghost town. Lines are short and I'm feeling like everything is going to work out. Flight is set to depart on time at 8:17pm.
8:00pm - Board flight a little late, but it's all good because I'm on one of the flights leaving the still snowing city. I'm riding first class (high in the sky) next to a nice woman headed to Sacramento.
8:05pm - Two early 30's women stumble on board. They met at the hotel bar and are liquored up. Any guesses where they'll be sitting?
9:30pm - The liquored ladies have been screeching and cackling for 90 minutes now. All the first class passengers were turning around to glare, or making funny faces/hand motions to each other about the LLs. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief when we finally pull back from the gate. We get de-iced and get in line for takeoff.
10:30pm - The snow is still falling hard. We're second in line for takeoff. LL1 (who models for J.Jill and has three kids, a poker-loving Nana with a face-card printed vest, and an iPhone she blasted Rihanna from) gets up from her chair, sprints to the front of the cabin and busts her way into the bathroom. Mind you, the flight crew has told us repeatedly not to get up. Chaos ensues.
11:30pm - We're number 1 in line for departure. Oh. But. Wait. We've fallen below the minimum gas supply to make it to Vegas. We must turn around, go back to the gate, gas up, de-ice, and get back into line. Chaos ensues.

12:00 midnight - Our plane has been gassed. We should be set to go, right? Think again. Our flight crews are technically passed their union-allowed working hours. Our flight attendants have already worked a 14-hour day; add in our near 6 hour flight.... They could have walked and been just fine. Lucky for everyone, they wanted out of Boston as badly as we did. The legal issue was with the pilots; the FAA allows 8-hours of flying only. We had to wait for several supervisors and FAA personnel to sign off on the hour overage.
12:30am - There is much rejoicing when our plane finally gets into the air. I've been in seat 2A for four hours at this point.
1:00am - The movie their showing is The Santa Clause 3. I think I'll pass.
2:00am - The LLs continue their quest toward emptying every liquor bottle on the plane. By this point I've heard many a story about LL2's drinking habits (got so wasted at the holiday party Tuesday night that she slept in her car, doesn't need an excuse to drink, frequently can't remember the night before)--and she proves it's true. The cackling hens continue their cackling.
3:00am - THe LLs are watching a movie on LL1's iPhone. Their volume of chatter increases when they try to talk over their headsets.

LAS VEGAS - 10 hours after arriving at the Boston airport
6:30am - We finally land in Vegas.
3:30am - Switch to Vegas time.
3:35am - The gate attendant hands me my new flight schedule. I'll leave from Vegas to Portland Saturday night at 7:30pm. 40 hours from the current time. I grovel with the desk and am booked on a flight to Phoenix where I'll be standby to Portland. Getting stranded in Phx isn't so terrible as I have family to stay with.
4:00am - Find an empty gate, pull my hood over my head, set my alarm for 6, and lie down on the floor to get some sleep.
5:30am - It's too cold and hard to sleep for longer than 7 minutes at a time. The stores are finally opening; buy a fountain drink at Burger King and sit, nursing it at a table. Pseudo-sleeping on the floor was not good to me--I look like I've had a hard night. A really hard night.
6:30am - Board the plane. Late. Everyone's on, we push back.
7:00am - And wait.
7:15am - And wait.
7:30am - We're told that there's weather in Phoenix. I'm sorry, what? There's never weather in Phoenix. Air traffic control will let us know in 22 minutes whether or not we can leave Vegas. They're advising we turn back now, but we can wait. If I don't make the connection from Phx to Portland, I'm done for the holiday. I'm on the phone with my Mom, seeing if she can buy a ticket on another airline to get home.
8:00am - We're given the go-ahead. Much internal rejoicing when we get off the ground.

PHOENIX - 18 hours after arriving at the Boston airport
9:00am - We land in Phoenix.
10:00am - Switch to Phoenix time.
10:01am - I'm on standby, so I rush rush rush to my gate. Miracle of miracles, they have a seat for me. Much rejoicing throughout the land. In celebration, I decide to indulge on the best of all airport foods--the pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut.
10:15am - Pizza goodness is resting comfortably in my stomach. Outlook is better. I should get in line to board the plane but decide to reward my long days travel with some Starburst.
10:20am - Approach Hudson News counter to buy my Starburst. Wallet is missing.
10:21am - In full on freak out mode.
10:22am - Pizza Hut does not have my wallet. The customers in line certainly have crusty looks for me.
10:23am - Dashing through the terminal to where I sat, eating my pizza.
10:24am - Wallet is found, still under my seat.
10:25am - I march right over and board my freaking plane.
10:45am - Much internal rejoicing when we get off the ground.

PORTLAND - 24 hours after arriving at the Boston airport.
2:00pm - We land in Portland.
1:00pm - Switch to Portland time.
1:15pm - The girls are here to get me. They're circling the airport as my flight's bags are circling the luggage concourse.
1:30pm - Guess whose bag didn't come? Are you really even shocked?
2:00pm - Lost bag claim ticket filled out. The girls pick me up. They're probably shocked by my crazily unkempt appearance--staticky hair, baggy eyes, mismatched clothes... I can hardly think straight. I don't even really care my bag is lost, I'm just so happy to actually be in Portland.

4:00pm - Get a call. They have my bag. When can I come pick it up? Oh, 8pm? Great.

8:00pm - Go to airport to pick up my bag.
8:01pm - THEY DON'T HAVE IT.
8:10pm - It's not in the lockbox.
8:15pm - It's not in the back.
8:20pm - They see my claim ticket, but it's been closed out in the computer.
8:25pm - More is done to try to locate my bag. The airline people are confused.
8:30pm - A holy Christmas miracle when my bag is actually found in the lockbox.
8:35pm - I tell the luggage desk woman this has been the FLIGHT FROM HELL and wish her a Merry Christmas. I think she can tell how haggard my day has been.

SO there you have it. 24-hours to get from Boston to Portland. (I flew on a 6 hour direct flight in September.) 30-hours for my luggage to arrive.

The only good that came from this experience was a long blog. I hope you enjoyed it. However, much like I jinxed myself by reading about Flights from Hell, you've now jinxed yourself. Not a smart move. Trips from hell are like that video in The Ring; you've got to pass it on to expel it from your system.

Safe and happy travels.


Ju said...

Oh perfect. I'm at the airport right now, getting ready to board my flight which is already 30 mins late. Good thing I never saw "The Ring" or I'd be in real trouble.

maWeesa said...

freaker.. i thought my flight sucked... i was wrong.. sorry baby... i'm glad you made it home..

maWeesa said...

freaker.. i thought my flight sucked... i was wrong.. sorry baby... i'm glad you made it home..

Laura said...

Oh. My. Goodness. If I could shoot sympathy rays at you, I would. And they'd be coming from the near-Canada-and-rainy area. Hooray for making it to the PNW, even if it is late and haggard!

Gregg said...

What a flight from hell you had, Nat! I hope that reading stories on Flights From Hell didn't jinx your flight. Look at the bright side - at least you found your wallet, finally got your luggage back, and are safely back with your family in Oregon. And, as you mentioned, you got plenty of material to produce a great post!

That's one of the benefits to having my particular websites - Flights From Hell and Dinners From Hell - no longer worrying about having bad flying or dining experiences since at least I'll have a story to write.

Blessings of the season to you and yours. And may your return flight be a much more pleasant one!


stephanielynn said...

Did the guy who runs Flights From Hell really just comment on your blog? Seriously?

Nat, I'm sorry you had such a terrible trip! Mine was nearly flawless, but now you've got me worried about my return trip...

Do you realize how your love for Starburst saved you? If you wouldn't have tried to buy them you might not have realized your wallet was missing and boarded the plane without it. Who says candy is bad for you?

Have a fantastic Christmas!

John K. said...

A girl in my ward had her airline lose her dog. Its been a couple days...yikes!

LaurenGayle said...

nat... so i remembered how you mentioned a crummy flight home and i was about to post a comment in hopes to "TOP" your experience, but after reading the whole post, mine really doesn't compare, but here goes:

2:30 drive to Logan
4:45 board for flight to go to Chicago. i was quite excited that i was seated in row 4.
5:20 about the time we are to take off air traffic control has delayed our flight due to a sudden snow storm and heavy winds in chicago. of course i am a bit concerned about my connecting flight home.
6:45 had a nice chat with customer service. he asked me where i was flying to and when i said Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, he replied: "of course you are", we both had a chucke. i replied: "well it is better than sao paulo, brazil (as i had previously overheard some other passengers griping about whether they would make it to sao paulo on time). we rescheduled my flight for the next day to go through Denver and arrive home at 2:30pm
7:15 spencer nam so graciously picks me up at the airport
8:30 check my voice mail and there is a recording from united airways telling me that my flight through denver has been also canceled. ok, i was trying to be chill about the first flight change. but the new flight they have me booked for is to arrive home on christmas eve at 11pm. that is just outrageous.
8:35 i called united to see if there were any other available flights knowing that the chances will most likely be quite slim.
8:50 receive confirmation for the new flight through san francisco to arrive at 8:20pm on the 24th. not the best, but better than 11pm. at least i can catch some of my mother's divine christmas feast.

and like your story, i have to include the pros of such an event:
1) i was able to claim harry potter #7 to take with me. i have since been listening via audio books, but during the brief period i sat on the plane tonight i regretted not bringing it, as a book is essential for any traveler and i was to be done my people magazine (the best/worst of 2007) at any moment.
2) i will also be able to pick up my photos i forgot to get on saturday so that i can compile a cute scrapbook for my sister for Christmas. i was going to save it for Valentine's, but now i might be able to get it in time.

let's just hope my cannolis and other various mike's delights and appearance (since my make-up and other grooming products are hopefully making their way home at some point) can survive the delay.

glad you made it home. let's hope another christmas miracle happens as i set out for my second attempt tomorrow morn. xo

Linda said...

wow. I love all your stories! I'm just pleased it wasn't me this time...oh wait, I'm not even GOING home.

I cannot wait for you to come back!

Kaos Baggins said...

24 hours of trip!!! it is a hell trip!!!

ok, US is very big and is a travel of many miles, but one complete day flying is excesive

at least you arrive well and finally they can give you your bag, and you are able to write it as an incredible adventure

I wish you happy christmas with your family

Rachel said...

Whew! I'm glad you finally made it. It sounds like that was complete chaos, but good thing you are one strong woman! If anyone could handle that, you could. Speaking of should be on your way to AZ to see me right now!...

Rachel said...

Whew! I'm glad you finally made it. It sounds like that was complete chaos, but good thing you are one strong woman! If anyone could handle that, you could. Speaking of should be on your way to AZ to see me right now!...

Rachel said...

phew...I'm glad I don't have to fly anywhere for a while, curses always land on me. Sorry for the rough flight babe, you can tell your grandkids about this someday.

Definitely, maybe, probaby related posts:

If NatA! posted a photo with this blog, here it is!