‘Cause if you make it, it doesn’t matter what you’re makin’
Whao boy. Delta! So I had to get a ticket on very short notice to fly from Austin to the New York area. It was for the IBM SMB Summit. My chosen airline, American was quite pricey (around $800) as were many other options. Delta however: cheap! (around $450) Since RedMonk was paying for the fare, I wanted to go for affordable.
First off, what I didn’t pay attention to was that I got tickets on, to be blunt, a crap plane. It’s either a CRJ40 or a CRJ50. I don’t know what that means technically, but from my seat (a very small one) it means crap. Definitely not Scottish.
So, that’s not too bad, really. jetBlue does OK with crap planes: they just deck them out with better seats and add their “hi, we’re jetBlue!” schtick to make you think you’re being special, select, and, you know, hip. (Of course, once you spend enough time in jetBlue’s JFK terminal, that feel sloughs off.)
Right, but Delta. On the way up, we fly thought Cincinnati. To be honest, I’d kind of forgotten about Cincinnati, so it was nice to get a refresher. As I sprinted through their airport, it did seem nice. Their walkways are bouncy. Double plus for that.
In Austin, we boarded the plane on what I now feel like I need to quote as a “normal” jet-way. You know, it connects to the plane, and you walk down it, check out the ancient joy-stick thing they use to line it up the plane, and, bam! you’re on the crap plane. That was fine.
Not so in C-C-Ci-Cincinnati. It was like being in the 50’s but without all the fedoras and smiling smokers. We walked outside to a stair case that lead up to the plane. My thought was, “huh, I never thought what crap technology the president has to put up using these things, up and down the stairs, wave, smile, shake hands.”
The flight was fine, no problem. I had a Coke, which is odd for me ’cause I don’t drink soda. I even got a refill!
Now, what was crazy about this flight were two things:
- We did the usual sit around in the plane routine for about 45 minutes.
- There was a pack of moms, kids, and grandmothers who didn’t seem to speak English to well in the back.
Kids of curse, don’t like the sit around in the plane routine as much as adults do. Sure, complain, but we stay in our seat dreaming up ways to get free miles and tickets. Maybe even finish a book on brands if we’re biz-dorks.
But kids, oh no. They get up and run all over the plane not remembering what the friendly flight attendant said last time, wide-eyed looking like her gourd would explode with niceness at any moment, “please stay in your seat :) It’s dangerous to be up :) The pilot could slam on the brakes at any time and you could hurt yourself :) :)” As we were waiting to de-plane, I over-heard the flight attendant say, “I think I’m going to get a hysterectomy. I’ve just gotta go find a cash machine.” (OK, I added that last part.)
Now, I’ve never been annoyed by kids on planes much. Truthfully, I wasn’t annoyed by those kids, but I have that problem where I feel embarrassed for other people, and man, did I feel embarrassed for those folks. More importantly, I felt bad for our soon to be hysterectomotized friend walking up and down the aisle.
Well, we land at JFK, and that’s all fine and dandy. Then we go through a weird series of tent walkways to the main terminal, up some stairs, and poof! We’re in the Delta domestic terminal of JFK. Once again, we were all missing fedoras. Oddly enough, there were no press at the bottom of the stairs to greet us. Just pink-tagged “carry on” luggage that we had to wait about 30 minutes in the plane for someone to unpack.
Thankfully, IBM paid for car service to Rye Brook (yuh!), and the driver, as they usually are, was quite nice. I tend to always get into conversations about Austin. Everyone’s heard of it, and this dude wanted to move down there.
I’m Pretty Sure I’m Going to Get Stuck in… Cincinnati
Oddly enough, the driver from Rye Brook to JFK used to be in enterprise sales. His stories were in-depth, varied, and spanned from the 80’s to around 2000. All good stuff: software sales people are chock full of nutty stories that I could listen to forever.
Interestingly, for this tale of travel woe, checking in and getting through the security gates at JFK was flawless. Usually — flying JetBlue or American out of JFK — the TSA people eye-ball me and everyone else sternly and seem to be having a rough time. This time, several of them actually smiled at me!
The secret was this: I slipped in just in front of two folks in wheel chairs. Now, I have nothing against those people; instead, I call that out because any exception to usual stream of passengers causes a log-jam in the security line, and I could see that happening behind me. I think someone even dropped one of their oxygen tanks.
This is where things go pear-shaped, and then expand out into a water-melon with a series of horrendous, seeping, malignant tumors.
I don’t know what’s going on in Delta’s JFK terminal, but each gate seemed to be servicing about 10 different flights. What does this mean? It means that there’s a constant stream of people trying to figure out if it’s their flight that’s boarding at the moment. And, over the loud-speaker, you hear this about every 5 minutes, “this gate is servicing several different flights. Right now it’s [Miami|Baltimore|etc.]. If you’re not on that flight, I need you out of [the|my] ticketing area.”
After which legions of people exit with the “what? me worry?” sort of look on their face.
Then there’s the guy who missed his flight, got a new ticket for a new flight, then came back up and said, “dude, I just lost my ticket. I put it on the phone turned around, and someone took it.”
So, what we have here is chaos due to over-capcity. The Delta staff were doing the best they could, and most people weren’t getting angry at them, but at Delta. The flow of information was nearly opaque. For example, while there were two Big Boards (several Russians were looking at each) each with completely different listings for Cincinnati. My best source of information were the OrbitzTLC calls I got every 15 minutes telling me my flight was now delayed 15 minutes.
Once the plane is called to board about an hour late, we all run into the tent-tunnels on the tarmac. What gets exciting here is that there’s no one there to really tell us which way to go in the tent-tunnels or which air-plane to select. So, the scout-passenger out in front goes up to the first plane, finds a pilot in there, and say, “hey, is this Cincinnati.” No, no…next window… At which point the dude wearing the Brooklyn sports jersey yells out, “ah! fuck!”
Finally, we get on the plane. Things are looking up. I even manage to get a two-seater: that is, no one sits in the seat next to me, so I’ve got a whole two seats to myself.
Then the fun starts all over again. Apparently, fitting well with it being election day here in the US, there was a miscount. The gate thought there were X number of passengers on the plane, while there were actually X+1 number of passengers.
As you can imagine, this is some sort of international crisis the likes of which even Henry Kissinger couldn’t détente himself out of. This turned into a quagmire-grade problem. We sat there for about an hour on this one. As the crew said, “we won’t be able to leave until we figure this out.”
The flight attendant counted everyone about 10 times, and they asked on the speaker, “is anyone here not going to Cincinnati?” One of the crew thought someone raised their hand, and said, “that dude,” and I think if the dude hadn’t immediately said no all of us on the plane would have cut that guy up into little pieces with plastic knives, cooked the him-victuals in the coffee pot, and then eaten him while dreaming of Cincinnati.
A little later, something happened, the doors closed up, and we were off…to a line! Apparently, while we were having out X+1 crisis, we lost out place in line to take off, so we had to get ourselves in the queue again. To be honest, the planes I’m on seem to get stuck in line as a matter of principal. It’s just normal.
But, in this case, it was another hour on the icing. So, the 4:30PM departure turned into a 7:48PM one. Lucky for me, the connecting flight is at 8:45PM. We’ll see what happens, dear readers. I think touch down is around 8:30PM. Yay!
We touched down around 9:48PM. Obviously, this means I missed the 8:45PM flight. Now I’m at the Hilton Cincinnati Airport. Yay. I’ll fly out tomorrow at 9AM. But, two free meal vouchers, and of course, hotel stay. Tragically, I can’t apply my HHoners number. No 500 AA miles for me…
..I’m off to eat.