Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

It’s Christmas morning and some of the family are still tucked in their beds (visions of sugarplums….). Debbie and Phil’s new house accommodates us all-but it’s a bit like Morocco-style sleeping-living room, etc. It’s working for us. (oops-everyone woke up and had to finish this on Friday).

And besides, it’s just great to be here. Didn’t know for a bit if/when it was gonna happen. Got caught in the 40-year record making snowstorm of the eastern seaboard and wouldn’t you know it, JFK shut down just as I arrived from Casablanca last Saturday. Was rescheduled for a flight the next morning. OK, we can make that work However, since the entire place is shut down, all hotels are booked, so I get a reservation and taxi to LaGuardia for a night in the Holiday Inn. Felt like I was in the lap of luxury-a hot shower with full water pressure, comfy bed, TV, room service. Just my luck-and I mean that in the most positive sense-there’s a 24/7 business center off the lobby where I can check the status of my flight. See, the storm was making it’s way up the East Coast and hadn’t hit when I landed, but was coming in that night-with a vengeance. Get up at 6am to check flight for 2pm. Cancelled. Rescheduled for Dec 23rd. Yikes. Hamdullah, I can check alternatives online and that’s what I do. (You don’t realize how paralyzed you are without a cell phone or internet access). I find another flight, now booking through American, going thru LAX to SFO. Buy the one-way ticket and head off to JFK. Manage to snag the only taxi from La Guardia to JFK, as LaGuardia is still shut down.

I arrive at 7am at JFK-it’s also a ghost town, traffic-wise, but tons of people trying to figure out their next move. Bummer, my flight has been delayed from 11am to 2pm, so I won’t make the connection in LAX to SFO. No problem, I’ll buy myself a 3rd ticket from LAX to SFO on another local carrier-just wanna get there. There are only 3 flights scheduled to leave out of JFK for the day-one to Norita Japan, one to Atlanta, and the LAX flight. Otherwise the departure board is nothing but red “cancelled” notices. Could I be so lucky?

Make my way to the gate to wait for the flight. I’m on the phone to Debbie to get a Southwest LAX-SFO flight booked when I hear the Atlanta flight cancelled. Yikes. Hold off on the Southwest ticket. Wait just a bit longer and sure enough, the LAX flight is also cancelled. Crap. Now what? Have to get in the incredibly long line to re-book. Look-there are 2 new LAX flights on the board! Yipee! Surely I’m on one of those? And my luggage will go and all will be safi, yak? After 1½ hours in line, and still a long way to go, I get the attention of a very helpful agent who checks and informs me I’m not on the new flights and have been re-booked for the 24th. Damn.

Now I’m really hustling-what options do I have besides 4 more days stuck in NYC? I’m on the phone w/Debbie-buying the cheapest junk I can in shops to get change to feed the payphone. Keep running out of quarters and getting disconnected. SOOOOOOOOO frustrating. Debbie’s doing a hero’s job in the early morning hours her time to try to get a flight for me, out of any airport in the surrounding area. But of course, she can’t call me back. We agree to work from our sides of the country and I’ll check in later. Now I gotta try and get my luggage. Really great guys down at the baggage center take about 45 minutes trying to track down my luggage to get it for me. It’s a lost cause-it’s gone ahead to LAX-but not due to any lack of effort on their part. More quarters and check in w/Debbie. She and I are quickly in tears when she tells me she’s managed to get me a flight for the next afternoon to SFO on American (those loyalty programs really pay off). After about 8 hours in JFK, I can get another hotel room and settle in for the evening with the knowledge that I’ll be w/family the next day.

Monday morning at JFK is business as usual. You’d never know it had been shut down for 2 days. Remarkable! My flight takes off w/o a hitch. But my luggage is still at LAX (confirmed by Delta). How to get it to SFO, maybe even before I get there? I decide to work on that during my layover in Dallas. Where the heck is a pay phone? Can’t find one. Ask desk agent. They can’t locate one, and ask me what I need. Geez-long, boring story and I’m gonna end up on hold for a long time. “No problem” says Michelle, “let’s see if I can help”. I explain what my luggage situation is-it only went to LAX via Delta and I’m now flying American to SFO. Michelle gets her own cell phone-tells me that the desk phone won’t allow her to call Delta luggage center in LAX. Making calls, staying on hold, for 45 minutes until she’s got an agreement that Delta will take my luggage over to American to get it on an SFO-bound flight. She doesn’t know if it will work, but has done all she can, and far more than any of us would ask. Bless her parents.

Well, just to conclude this travel saga, I get to SFO to be greeted by Debbie, Philip and Joanne-what a terrific welcoming committee-and a sight for sore eyes! So what if it took 2 more days and many more calls to get my luggage-I was with my family.

And just in time, since Debbie’s arranged for a “girl’s day” on Tuesday all day w/7 of us sitting around eating, drinking, talking and catching up. A very special day with a wonderful group of women.

So we’ve had a chance to do some window shopping, saw Phil in the Christmas Carol production he was in, spend lots of fun time with Sandy, Mike and Alex and a nice, relaxing Christmas day.

Now we’re off to do a bit more window shopping-mostly to get out of the house. (And that’s a whole new subject-can so understand why Debbie and Phil are in love with their new house-it couldn’t be more perfect!) I have another girl’s lunch to see Deb and Nancy, and we’ve got a family outing to SF tomorrow to see Beach Blanket Babylon.

Said goodbye to Philip as he’s off to the snow in Tahoe w/good friends for the weekend. Get more time w/nephew Alex who will be shipping out to Afghanistan Feb 4th.

Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Two Mamas said...

You have the best attitude!! You faced so many obstacles, but I'm glad you finally made it to SF.