Monday, February 05, 2007

This country won't let go of me


Here is the story:

6:30am - cab to JFK
7am - check in, only to be told the plane is delayed 30 minutes for MANDATORY CREW REST. The boarding pass actually says it's delayed 45 minutes. We wander around, get magazines, and eat breakfast.
9:45am - start boarding the plane.
10:10am - pilot informs us that air traffic just called him to say that liquid is pouring out of one side of the plane. We have to stop taxiing to the runway and crawl back toward the gate. Only, we never get to the gate and stop short on the tarmac.
10:25am - "the mechanic should be here in 20 minutes."
10:50am - "uh, the mechanic is still not here. We don't actually have our own mechanics as of a few years ago, so we have to contract out for them. We called him and he is on his way. Don't worry, we're on top of it."
11:15am - "the mechanic is here!"
11:25am - "the mechanic says it's normal in such cold weather for fuel to pour out of the engine and then create a seal after a bunch of fluid has come out, so we should be okay to go, but we have to radio over to headquarters in Minnesota to decide."
11:30am - "we've turned on the engine and everything seems okay. We'll probably leave soon."
11:40am - "uh, the plane is not okay to go. We're going to go back to the gate and deplane."
11:50am - "uh, the gates are occupied by other planes, so we have to wait until a plane leaves. We have to wait for a tug to get pulled back anyhow."
12pm - "uh, we only have two gates at this airport and not enough staff, so we'll have to wait a while longer. Our mechanic was nice enough to ride off in his van to tell people that we need help. We don't have anyone to help us right now."
12:15pm - "they've just sent a bus to deplane you, but we need to wait for staff to help you on." The slowest bus in the world takes us from no man's land to the gate.
12:30pm - everyone converges at the gate to figure out where we're supposed to go, and make a run for the ticketing counter once we're told to go there. There is ONE agent at the counter, and about sixty people on line, who all need to go overseas. Another agent eventually shows up, but each of them spends at least 30 minutes with each customer. We're number five on line and wait about an hour to be helped, after the announcement that we should call Northwest on our cell phones and reserve tickets over the phone while we're waiting on line, b/c it's faster than doing it in person w/the agents.
1:45pm - We're told that there are no more flights at all going to Asia for the rest of the day, on any carrier. We're booked onto the same itinerary as today, only for TOMORROW. We ask for vouchers for cab fare back home and to JFK for tomorrow morning, but they only allow us a ride back.
2pm - We go downstairs to have a guy call a car for us. We wait an hour and a half for a car, keep asking the guy where it is, and get this answer: "it's really cold today, and everyone is taking cabs, so there aren't a lot of cars." We only finally got a car after that loser ended his shift and we asked a woman to help us. Sure enough, a car pulls up 2 minutes later. Oh, and the cab driver said he hadn't been busy at all today.

We got home at 4pm. My sister left her keys at home b/c she assumed we'd go to Japan and come back on Sunday, when her husband would be home. So we had to look for the super to get let back in. She had to email our friends in Japan to tell them not to come get us, and then collapsed in a heap to nap.

I've since run errands for a pencil, more snacks, food for dinner, and batteries. I also cleaned the kitchen here (in Astoria) b/c it grossed me out. I'm really tired and am sooooo not excited about doing this all over tomorrow. But at least we had a nice cab driver, who said that clearly, we were not supposed to fly today. I told him about my dream two nights ago, where a wing-less jet plane crashed in a parking lot where my sister and I had just parked a car. I was screaming at her to run away from it b/c it would explode soon, but I had to drag her away b/c she had hurt her knee. The cabbie said that we should just be happy that we're alive (we had a lot of time in JFK to contemplate why it's GOOD that we're losing a day of vacation and the airline is doing jack to compensate us). He says that since all this bad stuff got cleared away today, tomorrow will go without a hitch.

Needless to say, I will draft a grievance letter, put the cab receipt in it tomorrow once we get to JFK, and mail it. It was awful being trapped on that plane, b/c we knew we were missing a flight, and missing the next one after that to Narita (the connection was through Detroit). We SOOOO could have made a later flight if they only let us off the goddamn leaking plane!! A guy in the back actually saw smoke come out of it when we were still on it.

Anyhow. I'm still here. Clearly, I'm not meant to leave the country. I got in trouble at baggage claim b/c I climbed up over the moving part (it wasn't moving anymore) to get a better view b/c I was too tired to walk all the way around it to find Cindy's bag. An employee yelled at me as I was sliding off the top, as if I could give a shit. I wanted to say, "there aren't any signs!" and other nasty things, but I just walked away w/our bags. We helped two Korean women who didn't speak English that well, too. So those were our good deeds for this trip.

I tell you what: I can't wait until there is a time in my life when I'm not flying an average of once a month. OR MORE! I can't wait until I have a stable home. I can't wait until I'm finally in Japan. I am so glad that I didn't have to go through this ordeal alone.


polarchip said...

I'm SO GLAD you did not take off in that plane. Jeesh!

You should have demanded a hotel & dinner voucher!! You and your sis could have par-tayed it up in the Holidae Inn! You could have called all your peeps and had them come over!

Anyway, If your letter gets you a flight voucher, you should use it on a flight out here to NorCal!! Hello, Hello!!

Sometimes I think NY cab drivers are like little angels flittering about the city. They pick people up and wisk them away from bad situations. (Of course, there are some demons disguised as cab drivers too, and then there's also cops disguised as cab drivers.) You must have gotten one of the angel cab drivers yesterday. I'm glad about that.

Have a good flight tomorrow! I got your book in the mail today! Thank you so much! I started reading it in my dentist's waiting room! Intriguing so far...

Anonymous said...

People yearn for adventures, but they are over-rated, aren't they?! Breathe. You will look back on this and laugh.

Anonymous said...

oh aimee... i'm so sorry... sooo frusterating! i hope everything goes a ok today and you get there safe and sound and happy. :)

Jilly said...

Wow. It seems like everyone is having crazy travel misadventures! I'm so sorry you went through that Aimee. glad you're not Emily trying to get home from India

Daisy said...

aimee!! holy hell. what a crazy-ass story! im so glad you didnt have to fly on that plane--yikes. when are you off to japan? wow. sorry i've been MIA. back to reality now. love ya!!!