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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Are We Having Fun Yet??? Not Exactly!

I am writing this from a hotel room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We stayed here overnight so that we can get to the cruise port and be on the ship, ready to leave at 4:00 p.m. So far though, our trip has been quite eventful, but not in a good way. Chuck has described this experience so far as, "The Trip from you know where!" It all started in Hartford, CT as we were standing in line to board the Southwest plane that was to take us to Tampa. From there, we were going to stay on board and pick up more passengers before arriving at our destination airport of Fort Lauderdale. After approximately 10 passengers boarded the airplane, we got our first inkling of what was to come when a pilot came out of the passenger loading area and said something to the clerk that was taking people's tickets. At that point, we were told there was a problem and people started coming off the airplane they had just boarded. An announcement came over the loudspeaker that there was an issue with the plane, and that someone from contract maintenance would have to come look at the plane before passengers could board. There were sighs and groans all around me, including from Chuck! But then we heard that the plane had been stuck by lightning, and I was actually happy we would not be getting aboard that plane right away! They announced that there were free sodas at the podium, but that didn't do much to cheer people up. A woman repeatedly came on the loudspeaker to give us updates. She was quite unprofessional and should not, in my opinion, try a career as a public speaker. While Chuck was up at the podium trying to get the latest details, 2 people near me announced they had just gotten texts that our flight would leave in 6 10:20 p.m. instead of the original 4:05 p.m. More groans could be heard as these two people announced this news to those of us waiting in the surrounding seats. When Chuck came back shaking his head and saying that no one at the podium knew what was going on, I told him that the nice woman sitting next to his seat was going to give him the latest update!!! Better her than me, I figured! She laughed and said, ' No I am not!" but then did proceed to tell him about the 6 hour wait. No sooner was this announced though than the speaker announced that although that flight was leaving in 6 hours, they were going to try to reroute us all on other planes, and not to worry, all of our luggage would be sent on to Tampa. I do remember wondering how that was going to help us if our final destination was Fort Lauderdale, but figured they knew what they were doing. Ha ha...wrong. Anyway, they got us on a flight through Baltimore, and then changing planes in Baltimore going to Fort Lauderdale. We arrived in Fort Lauderdale at 10:20 p.m. and to our dismay, our luggage did not arrive with us. Chuck went to the airline office and after about 30 minutes, came out with a disgusted look on his face. Although the airline did give us each an overnight toiletry bag, they said they didn't know where our luggage was. Another passenger was going by and she said they told her that it might be in Baltimore. Since the next flight from Baltimore was due to arrive in 45 minutes, I suggested we wait there to see if it was on that flight. I knew Chuck would be happier once we actually had the luggage in hand and if we could get it in 45 minutes, it would be worth the wait. At this point, we hadn't eaten since we split a sandwich at 3:00 p.m. at the airport in Connecticut. So since we had time to kill, we searched the airport for an open restaurant. If you are following how things are going, you can probably guess that there were no open restaurants at the airport at this point at night. So we went to vending machines and had a dinner consisting of sour cream and onion chips, Ritz cheese crackers, fruit punch and I had an ice cream sandwich for dessert while Chuck had some cookies that he had brought from home. The plane did arrive finally at 12:15 a.m., and by now you might have guessed that our luggage was not on that flight. Checking back in at the Southwest baggage office, we were told that the luggage had been Tampa of course! It is supposed to arrive at the airport on a 12:50 p.m. flight on Saturday a.m. So, we decided that we would go to the hotel, and come back at 12:50 p.m. to pick up our luggage which we are hoping and praying will arrive from Tampa. Chuck called to ask about the shuttle from the airport, but they did not pick up the phone. After a few attempts, Chuck finally called a 1 - 800 number and was told to dial zero when attempting to reach hotel staff that late at night. He did do that and the staff there told him that the shuttle service stops at 10:30 p.m. and that the registration desk is closed so to go inside the front door and use the phone there when we get in to call a staff person. Ugh...more bad news. After standing in line for 20 minutes with about 100 other people to get a taxi, we finally arrived at the hotel, used the phone and were let into the hotel lobby. We reached our hotel room at 1:00 a.m and were finally in bed by 1:15 a.m., tired, but hopeful that things will be better when we woke up. So far, that's not going so well either! Today we woke up and went down to our "free breakfast" which consisted of regular coffee ( no decaf for Chuck) packets of instant oatmeal, oatmeal bars,1 pre-packaged muffin as the rest were still frozen according to the breakfast hostess, and not so fresh looking oranges and apples. We are fortunate that the airline gave us those overnight bags too because although there was soap at the hotel, there was no shampoo. We are staying at an Extended Stay hotel that is rather old, and is actually set up for people who travel for work and bring most of their items with them. We do have a full kitchen which is nice, but it does not make up for a terrible breakfast and blankets with holes in them!!! We won't be staying in an Extended Stay hotel again!!! At this point, Chuck is quite beside himself, and threatening to not go on the cruise if we can't get our luggage. He checked with the airlines just now, and the flight from Tampa which is due to arrive at 12:50 p.m. has now been delayed till 1:40, which means of course it will take a bit of time to unload and we can't get our luggage, which will hopefully be on the flight, till 2 or 2:15 p.m. I still want to go on the cruise, no matter what and am sure we can pick up some extra clothes. I think a bad day of travel is still better than a good day in Connecticut!!! Will the luggage be on the flight from Tampa? Will the flight make it on time, or be further delayed? Will Chuck take the next flight back to Connecticut? Will I be going on this Panama Canal cruise all by myself??? Stay tuned, as these are "The Days of Our Lives..."

1 comment:

  1. Karen, I did receive this before 2 PM, or if I've needed to calibrate it for Pacific Standard Time, 11 AM, so I am praying for you and Chuck to receive your baggage. What an utter nightmare, huh? Wow!

    On a lighter note, my wife is intent that she, our two adult "kids," and I go on a cruise to Mexico and parts later this year. So, see? The seed I planted months ago when you encouraged me to go on a cruise is a little shoot breaking through the soil. I know this news doesn't help your predicament right now, but let it at least be a warm spot in your heart.

    We will drive down to the point of origin somewhere in California...this way, we can avoid the airlines nightmare. God help us to avoid major problems that potentially accompany travel by land.

    God bless you both, and may your luggage arrive in time for you to board that cruise ship. I feel for women are more resilient whereas we men are territorial, even to the point of attachment to the clothing and other items we own. Actually, I feel for you, too, and am constantly amazed (although I shouldn't be by now) at how prolific a writer you are, even and especially in the midst of turmoil. This is the aspect of your makeup, Karen, that sets you apart as a writer on a higher plane. (Oops, sorry about that last word...I wasn't talking about the airlines from the Twilight Zone. LOL!)

    Hang in there! Vent and rant on my shoulders anytime, Karen! I mean it!