Monday, July 21, 2014


Perhaps because I was never a super heavy business traveler, I escaped my full time career with relatively few travel horror stories.

Oh, there were the three hours spent broiling on the tarmac at Newark Airport waiting for the weather to clear at wherever we were headed. To conserve fuel, they turned the engines, and, hence, the AC. It was 95 and sunny. Excellent!

Sadly, I never got to Frankenmuth, Michigan. After hanging around Logan for about 3 or 4 hours, that game was called on account of snow. I had been looking forward to getting a glimpse of Frankenmuth, which is not only to home of Frankenmuth Insurance (our destination) but also some sort of Bavarian theme town. Jawohl? Neinwohl. By the time our call was rescheduled, I was no longer with the company.

Then there was the terrible, weather-delayed flight to Houston that got in at 4 a.m.

And getting stranded in Orlando on 9-11 wasn’t exactly fun.

Mostly, I had to deal with minor nuisance delays and the odd cancellation that was easy enough to work around.

On the pleasure side of the travel equation, I’ve been equally lucky.

The one big hassle trip was a seven hour delay at Shannon.

Once we got on the plane, the pilot charmingly told us that the delay occurred because the plane had been struck by lightning on the way over, and Aer Lingus “knew that we would want them to check it out.” Yes, indeed.

But my travel life has been pretty much sturm und drang free.

And then there was Frightmare: Return from Chicago.

Because of some traffic issues, my cousin Ellen – hostess par excellence for my recent visit to the Second City, formerly known as the Windy City, and before that, Hog Butcher of the World – decided to get me to O’Hare on the early side. This was great, as it gave me the opportunity to get on stand-by for an earlier flight.

Alas, I didn’t make it on.

But I was content to sit there with my Kindle.

Then came the news that the 4:57 to Boston was delayed until 7:04 p.m.

Oh, what’s two hours when you’ve got three more novels loaded, and you’re sitting near a plug?

Then the flight shifted to 8:15 p.m.

By this time, the cannier travelers – business people with tickets that were actually paid for – were booking on other airlines.

Since I was traveling on frequent flyer, my options were limited to getting wait-listed on other United flights. Which didn’t work out.

At some point, my flight was rescheduled for 9-something. With this reschedule came the admission that the plane we were going to be heading back to Boston on hadn’t left Newark yet. Given that the flight hadn’t left, and given that it takes about 2 hours to fly from Newark, that 9-something take-off began to look like the lie from the pit of hell.

While we were all sitting there doing the math, the gate person got on the PA and announced that our gate was being moved from C21 to B3.

Those of us who were more fleet of foot high-tailed it over to terminal B – quite a schlepp, I might add – only to find out that we had been misinformed.

There was, indeed, a flight to Boston leaving from B3, but it wasn’t ours, and it was full already.

Back at C21, I asked the gate person whether we had misunderstood the announcement.

No, we had heard right. What we hadn’t heard was the “never mind” that had followed the initial “get thee to B3” announcement.

By this point, the flight was scheduled for 11:30 p.m.

I figured by now that Flight 744 was just as likely to be cancelled as take off at 11:30, so I got in the customer service line. My thought was that I could keep an eye on my flight, but see what my options were for the following day.

After an hour-and-a-half wait, I got to the head of the line, where a remarkably pleasant and competent young woman told me that they had jiggered things around so that a plane coming from Houston, and a pilot coming from Detroit, would be taking us back to Boston, leaving somewhere around midnight.

Just to make sure, she booked me on the 6 a.m. flight the following morning.

Fortunately, our flight did take off at midnight, more or less, arriving in Boston at 3 a.m. Eastern.

I was delighted to learn that there are plenty of taxis to be had at Logan at 3 a.m.

So home I was by 3:30 a.m., and, after a quick shower, rolling into bed by 3:45 a.m.

I was exhausted, but none the worse for having spent 10 hours at O’Hare.

Between the Kindle – and the fellow traveler conversations I had with the Nigerian woman flying to Philadelphia, the fellow Maureen with a grandson named Oliver, the retired cop heading home from Alaska, the guy from Michigan whose daughter is looking at colleges – I was plenty entertained.

If this is the worst thing that ever happens to me while traveling, I’ll have a pretty darned good travel life.

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