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Published: August 25th 2017
"I'm not afraid of flying. I'm afraid of NOT flying". ~
For those of you that were sick of hearing about our tropical getaway & that we were enjoying the good life too much ;>, this blog's for you. (Sorry if you received this more than once.)
So we gave United Airlines another chance after the mishaps last month with our flights home to say my final good-bye to my Dad who fell ill. They did their best to help us, and upgraded us, so it was worth a chance. (Dear lord...)
Flying back to Cancun we got upgraded again & everything went fine except for the head stewardess aka 'Nurse Ratched'
(the infamous cold-hearted tyrant nurse from the movie, The One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) who was something else. When I say she was mean, I mean 'nasty'. It almost bordered on funny except it was obvious this woman was close to job burnout. Let me preface this by saying, she wasn't entirely wrong with some of her actions, since we all know some people have no common sense whatsoever. (Common sense is much like deodorant. Those that need it the most never use it.)
And those people always sit close to me. (Not talking about my wonderful hubby Al. He has both common sense and deodorant 😊
Nurse Ratched had no bedside (er aisle-side manner) whatsoever. She was yelling at everyone, slamming doors, rolling her eyes, telling travelers how dumb they were in an inadvertent way. For example I witnessed this: "If you take a bag out of the overhead bin, CLOSE IT or something will fall out and hurt somebody grumble grumble". "I absolutely do NOT allow you to go to the bathroom so sit down NOW". "What part of keeping your toddler on your lap do you not get ma'am"? "I've already told you once sir to move your chair in an upright position". (Then she popped his seat button and the guy flew forward.) Holy crap batman. I'm sure I saw her cuff some guy across the head too.
When it was time to serve food and drinks, she used the cart as a weapon. If your foot was stuck out in the aisle, you lost it. I was absolutely riveted by this woman. Did she just win the lottery and came back for one final shift to tell
off every passenger for one last time? The staff working with her looked absolutely miserable too.
But hey we were on our way to paradise, so nothing was going to rain on my parade. We just kept our heads down and didn't ask for anything for fear we'd be dragged off the plane by Nurse Ratched and make the 6 o'clock news.
LET THE HUNGER GAMES BEGIN...
Fast forward. After a wonderful vacation, it was time to pack our bags and head home on Tuesday. We were up at 6:30 am to leave for the airport at 8:30 am. After I ate cereal, I felt sick. I had been fine before this so it was strange. That particular color of green does not suit me. It was no fun having to drive for 45 minutes and then stand in line at Cancun. I thought I was going to be sick a few times so I was lingering in the bathroom. The custodian kept watching me. Really? What am I going to steal...your mop? Let me be sick in peace.
We were expected to arrive home at 11 PM that night which was going to be a
long enough day as it was. Well fate had something else entirely in mind for us. If I knew what was coming I would've won the "20/20 Hindsight Award" (for having the keen insight to not go on this flight and stay the heck where we were in Playa 😞 😞
We arrived in Newark at 5PM & our connecting flight to Ottawa was (note I said 'was') to leave at 9:30 PM. Near boarding time, United made a gate & time change. Hmmm... this is what happened last month when the flight was cancelled. Ten minutes before boarding they cancelled our flight due to lightning. WAH. Then they cancelled other flights which turned the terminal into absolute chaos. A human zoo. We were told to seek out a United Rep at gate 25. Turns out the announcer made a mistake about which line to stand in to get re-booked. And guess who was first in line at the wrong line? Yep me.
The lineups for the United desk were out the door where they had ONE overwhelmed woman working the desk. How did they get this SO wrong? It's enough you cancel the flights, but you have
nobody working to assist the fools who gave you their hard-earned money to fly with you? Are you trying to provoke people? People were yelling, crying, using their phones, texting, complaining, stomping their feet...It is the one common complaint about United (and most airlines) - no communication. They knew a storm was blowing through so arrange staff to help re-book YOUR passengers. Issue vouchers, give them a lifeline & don't drop them like a bad blind date. (Hire me United. We need to talk.)
We decided to skip the line and go get our bag that was supposed to be loaded off the flight. While Al waited for it for well over an hour, I took the girls to find a space to plunk ourselves down as it was a mad dash to claim a seat with a plug for electronics and a place to sleep overnight. It was survival of the fittest. People were resembling zombies at this hour of night...I really felt bad for the seniors. I managed to contact Marth back home who called United for us. Long phone delays because everybody and their cousin Fred was calling them too.
I could not bear to
spend a night in that airport, so I took the air train to Terminal C (which is huge), and wandered around in search of a United Airline rep. No reps to be found - they'd either gone home or into the witness protection program. I finally made it to the lower floor and found a somewhat secluded United Baggage counter with two reps working. After explaining to them my situation in a calm yet humorous way to hopefully get them on my side, bingo. It worked. Janet & Lou were amazing.
They managed to get us re-booked on two separate flights the next day. Al on one, and me and the girls on a later flight. The two reps told me how bad Newark Airport is. They cancel flights on a whim they said. I will say the lighting outside was really bad, but then it passed rather quickly. We could've been delayed then flew. Apparently La Guardia had flights going...I digress.
I asked if we could get a hotel voucher for the night, and usually they don't provide them (act of God & all that) but yes, no problem. (I did my best not to jump up
and down with glee). Then they gave us $110 US dollars in food vouchers. Thank you guardian angels (Bill and Dad). Then when I asked if we should cab it to the hotel, they decided to move us to an even closer hotel. Then before we left at 1:30 AM they handed over another $30 in food vouchers. So off I went to run & find Al to give him the good news. (I won Wife of the Month award right then!) So we grabbed some food from a deli (highway robbery), and took the air train to the hotel shuttle. We helped one poor senior in and out of the shuttle with her luggage. God love her.
Our arms were almost pulled out of our sockets with hauling our carry-on bags all day. And our dogs (feet) were barking loudly. We fell into our hotel room at 2:30 am. The bags under our eyes had bags of their own. We were that tired. Al and I had no luggage, so we slept in our clothes, and used the emergency kit (toothpaste/toothbrush) United gave us. Despite the fact we had just been kicked in the butt with a frozen
boot by United earlier in the evening, at least they gave us toothbrushes. I had no make-up remover so the bit of makeup remaining stayed on. Al's too 😉 The girls passed out right away. I lay there, tossed and turned, and repeat. Finally I fell asleep at 4:30 am.
We were up at 7:30 am the next day as Al flew out at noon with us following at 3:50 pm. (Yes I was nice to let him go ahead and I stayed back to fly with the girls).
Let's just say nothing went right after he left. It had all been downhill so how much further downhill could it possibly go? Miles.
The girls and I hauled ourselves back to Newark on the shuttle for noon to make sure I could see if my checked bag would be on my flight as the airlines don't like to check you in without your luggage. Stupid checked bag. We all had carry-ons to reduce the amount of checked bags & frankly I don't think I'll ever check a bag again. They couldn't tell me where my bag was, but it SHOULD be on my flight. (Eye rolling on
my part.) I would then have to pick it up in Toronto, clear security, clear customs, and re-check it. I had to channel my inner Hulk Hogan for the next leg of this debacle.
Did our flight from Newark to Toronto leave on time? How silly of you to even ask. HAHAHAHA. NO.
We lined up when boarding call came. Then the announcer with a bad accent & difficult to understand told us there would be a delay of 5 minutes. So we stand there, and stand there, till mold started to grow on us. These reps must have to go to confession on a daily basis as it was clear this guy was lying. Twenty minutes later, he calls us back to board & then more standing. People were really complaining and the rep went and hid somewhere and didn't come back for some time. I think he was afraid he was going to be lynched.
Finally we board, but due to all the delays we missed our connecting flight from Toronto to Ottawa. Of course...I felt so bad for my kids, but they continued to be such troopers.
So back to square one. We
get off the plane, walk 40 miles to grab our bag, go through the longest line of security, and then customs pulls us aside to have our bags checked. OMG. Double OMG. Will we ever get home? Is this an episode of the Amazing Race? Or am I making a sequel to the Hunger Games?
Once thru the customs line they didn't even bother to check our bags. Simply asked me what we had from Mexico (tequila - which I could've used right about then) and we were on our way. Harumph. Then we get in a line to talk to an Air Canada rep about re-booking us on the 7:30 flight. Well I got the guy who was finishing his shift and wanted to have a nice chit chat with a co-worker. Meanwhile it's 6:45 and we still have to get boarding passes and check our bag. He's still diddling around, and I kindly remind him that our next flight is leaving soon. Well the wheels came off the bus big time right about then.
He was so rude, unhelpful, inept, obnoxious, arrogant (I could go on), and it was obvious it was his mission to ensure
we did not make the 7:30 flight. When I explained that we had been on the road since 8:30 am the day before and we were really tired, he said to me, "It shows
". Really? You SOB. It took all my composure not to punch him in the face. Jail time would have been a welcomed relief by this point. Security please I beg you, take me away & take that stupid suitcase with you. The girls were shocked at how rude he was to me.
So after an unpleasant exchange with him, I knew we weren't going to get anywhere with him, so I asked for our passports back (I think it surprised him), and we took off to the 3rd floor limping, carrying these friggin' carry-ons and now a 50 pound unchecked bag to find an Air Canada rep who could do what the heck they were paid to do, which is to help us.
So I marched up to a Priority/Privileges line with no one in it. I didn't care if I should be there or not at this point. If my pants had fallen down around my ankles right then I would have kicked
them off & marched on. I was getting on a bloody flight come hell or high water or insolent Air Canada reps. Hell has no fury like a woman with 2 kids who had just missed 3 flights.
Once I explained the mistreatment of the last Air Canada Rep, two wonderful Air Canada reps (Yan & Roz) went out of their way to help me. In no time flat (mere minute(s) they managed to get us booked in business class (nananana - take that horrible Air Canada Rep) for the 11 PM flight. 24 hours ago we should have been home. Lord give me strength.
Before we left the counter, the reps printed us boarding passes for the 9:10 PM flight to go stand by (with a wink and a nod we'd most likely be getting on that flight). Hurrah.
I still had some United vouchers so I thought what the heck maybe a restaurant/store will take them in Toronto even though they were issued in Newark. A kind lady working at a food shop agreed to take them but only at CAD value. So we bought one sandwich for $14 ($14 for a sandwich? I told
the girls I had to check first to see if we would be biting into gold). Plus a chocolate milk and an apple came to $20. We were booked on a flight, and we had food. Were things actually going our way for a change?
We got to the stand-by gate for 8:30 and waited till everyone had boarded. They called out four standby names & they showed up. It didn't look good so I told the girls we'd go get a hot chocolate. We were about to walk away when they called our names. We swiveled our carry-ons around so fast we felt dizzy. It is now 9 pm, and the plane leaves at 9:10 so there we are running down the ramp onto a very quiet plane. The three of us were looking deranged by this point. My clothes were rumpled, my hair was rumpled, my face was rumpled...And then we had to face the dirty looks of fellow travelers who assumed we were 'late' for our flight when in actuality we were on standby for years. Who cares. I think I even stuck my tongue out at someone.
They put me in preferred seating, and
the girls were a few rows behind so someone took pity on us. A sense of relief washed over me and without realizing it, tears were streaming down my face. I was feeling almost delirious by this point. The steward even gave me a free glass of wine. (I think I'll try looking deranged on every flight if it comes with free booze.)
Al was waiting for us at arrival. Hallelujah. Where were the balloons and popping of Champagne corks? Of course we waited for our bag that never *&^^%$$# came. I could have cared less. It was a series of comedy of errors without the humor. I kissed the floor once we got home.
I no longer have to wonder what hell would be like, because I was there and back thank you. So I'd best behave cause I know what's waiting for me...(And once I'm rested watch out horrid Air Canada employee. You will get yours...It's called 'karma' and it's pronounced HA-HA-HA-HA.
So was the trip worth it in the end? You bet. We had the most fabulous time with Ray and Pat. The girls loved every minute spent with their grandparents. We so valued
our time with them, and all the great meals, card games, and drinks on the balcony. We look forward to our next visit with you guys and thank you for all your generosity too.
And we had so much fun with our girls, lots of laughs, good conversations, and snuggle time. And it offered a little time to process my grief over Dad.
Glad to be home to see the rest of the family. Very glad to see Mom the next day, and get caught up. Thanks to my wonderful employer who consistently offers me me & my family such wonderful travel perks. You are THE best.
There's a few odds & ends of photos but most are in my previous blogs so hit previous entry to see if you missed any. 😊
Thanks y'all for reading along. *(Speaking of reading, I had taken a library book with me on the trip. When I heard our flight was cancelled out of Newark, I jumped up like a bat out 'a hell & handed my book to Al so I could get us re-booked asap. Well Al says I did not give him the book. So the
book was left on my chair in the airport. I have never lost a book in my life. My kids once or twice, but never a book (heh heh). So now I have to buy a copy of the book for the library. And it has to be a certain edition, with a certain ISBN code. Lord have mercy. The fun just doesn't stop..)
Wishing you all a wonderful summer or whatever is remaining of it. Hope to see some of you sooner than later 😊
Signing off, Sal and the cast of the Hunger Games
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