Thursday, August 04, 2005

Thirty Hours

830 am (Dublin time): Taxi arrives. We go to the airport.

915: Arrive at airport. Realize that our flight is delayed by four hours, due to weather/crash in Toronto, where our layover is. This means missing our connection. Stand in line.

1000: After being politely brushed off by the re-booking people, we are checked in and given "light refreshment vouchers". Value: 7 euro. Actual cost of eating: way more than 7 euro.

1015: I am given the toll-free number for Air Canada. The nice man tells me that I will not be able to get a flight from Toronto to DC. It is not clear if he means tonight or ever again. We go upstairs and play gin rummy.

1200: We discover the airport's wireless internet. w00t. It costs 15 euro. We must have our fix.

145: We go through security and actually start waiting at the gate. Gate area smells of vomit. We change seats.

245: Boarding begins. There is no announcement, a woman just mutters something and starts taking tickets. As soon as I sit down on the plane I fall deeply asleep.

325: Take-off wakes me only briefly.

425: We land in Shannon to pick up more passengers. Everyone must get off the plane, taking all of their belongings with them. We do so.

500: "For security, all passengers waiting to reboard flight 894 to Toronto must exit the gate area and re-enter for reprocessing." Dammit.

525: Having had our passports thoroughly glanced at, we are all on the plane. Take-off for Toronto. I cannot fall back asleep, and the movie is Fever Pitch. Double dammit.

This is when I changed my watch to EST, so times will now confuse those viewers playing along at home. In reality, it was not like this. It was actually much more confusing.

Sometime mid-flight: "If there is a medical doctor aboard, will you please identify yourself to a flight attendant at this time." Repeated.

745: Landing in Toronto. Now, when you go through Toronto to the US, you actually clear US customs in Toronto. So you have to claim your checked luggage, clear customs, and then re-check your luggage to your destination. We get through Canadian customs, get our bags and go to stand in a line.

810: It is clear that this is the least useful line ever. We will have to stand in it for several hours if we want to get anything done. Carolyn and I decide to try our luck at the lines upstairs, leaving the menfolk to guard the luggage.

835: Dad comes upstairs to inform us that, because Air Canada operates on the six-year-old model of behavior, it's not their fault that our flight was delayed and therefore they don't have to give us fuck all in terms of hotel rooms, food, etc. However, Dad and Carolyn find out that there is a flight leaving for LA in... ten minutes. They will have to clear US customs, get to the terminal and get on the plane in ten minutes. Off they rush. "Bye," I yell. "Good luck! Hope I don't see you soon!"

855: There will be no flight tonight for us. Not to National, not to Dulles, not even to Baltimore. Suck. I get us seats on flight 300, boarding time 655 am. Back to Fuz.

900: We call The Moms. Both numbers are busy. For a long time. "Perhaps," says Fuz, "they are on the phone with each other, commiserating over the possibility that their darling children have been in a plane crash." I dismiss this as unlikely.

915: Fuz gets through to the FuzMom. "Oh, I was just on the phone with Dante's mother. We bonded." My mom's line: still busy. Hint to Moms: when you leave desperate messages to your children to call you and confirm that they have not been in a plane crash, stay off the phone.

930: I get through to my mom. She is most pleased to hear that I have not been in a plane crash. Fuz and I start debating renting a car and driving to Ithaca to spend the night there, and then driving to DC in the morning.

935: Phone message from Dad. They made it on the plane. I am killingly jealous.

1000: After looking at cars, we decide we are, in fact, too tired to drive. Also, too cheap to rent a car. Instead we sneak into the Interfaith Prayer Room and go to sleep. Ethics of this = doubtful. Carpet = comfy. Lights you can turn off = bonus!

1015: A security guard pokes his head in the room. We apologize for sleeping in here, he says it's okay, as long as we take our shoes off. Done and done. He even closes the door for us.

1100: I awake disoriented in a dark room! Where am I? Oh noes! No, wait, still the Interfaith Prayer Room. For some reason I cannot figure out how I am oriented to the door. This is somewhat important, because there is a different, much meaner security guy standing at the door. He is telling us we must leave this room. I hate this man.

1110: Having been ejected from the Interfaith Prayer Room, we drag our belongings out to the check-in area and find some seats to sleep in. Fuz looks up at the Departures screen. A flight is cancelled. A flight to DC. But not our flight, right? Because our flight leaves at 655. This flight leaves at 730. No, no, this could not be our flight. Except that it is. It is flight 300. Air Canada has booked us on a flight and then cancelled it less than two hours later. At this point it seems to be the most offensive thing to have happened since time began. Fuz goes to sleep, I make another sojourn to the ticket counter.

1120: The man in line ahead of me informs me that he has been standing in this line for over an hour. It is not a long line, but it is moving at a glacial pace.

1140: I decide I'm pretty lucky, because the pace of the line has picked up and I am seen by the nice night manager man, Chuck. Chuck is kind. Chuck is patient. Chuck is not allowed to rebook people. Sorry. Chuck directs me to the phones around the corner, which will give me a direct line to Air Canada reservations. I go.

1145: The reservations lady informs me that I have been automatically rebooked on a 940 flight to National. I tell her that this will not do. I must arrive in DC no later than 10 so that I can drive to Philly for an appointment. Oh. I can take a 655 flight to BWI. Will they pay for my taxi home? "When the airline puts you through this much, they'll usually pay for stuff like that. Mail them the receipt." Fine. Now I just need to go back to Chuck and have him check me out of flight 302 and into flight 7928.

1155: I watch Chuck deal with a middle aged woman having a temper tantrum because the shuttle bus to the hotel the airline is providing her with is late. The airline gave her a hotel and she is having a tantrum. I want to hit this woman. I refrain, because if I hit her and security takes me away, I will never get home. Of course, the way things are going, I may never get home anyway.

1157: Chuck informs me that he is not allowed to check me out of flight 302 and into flight 7928. I must come back to this counter at 430 in the morning and do this. Fuck you, Chuck.

1200: I stumble back to the waiting area and go to sleep. Sort of. I'm using the word "sleep" pretty loosely here. You know those airport announcements? The ones about "Unattended vehicles will be towed."? The ones that play every 15 minutes or so? They don't turn those off at night. I miss the Interfaith Prayer Room.

430: My watch alarm goes off, summoning Fuz I and from the land of sleep to the much more unpleasant land of Ontario. There is already a line at the ticket counter. Complete with a crying child.

515: We get to a ticket counter. The woman behind the counter has a thick accent and speaks very quickly and very softly. She tell us that she has been at the airport sine 8 last night and is about to go home. For some reason this means that she must take our tickets away to another counter and... do something. It is possible that all of this would have made more sense if we weren't so tired.

530: Having gotten our boarding passes, cleared customs and re-checked our bags, we go to wait for a shuttle bus to take us to our gate. I get breakfast from an overpriced airport cafe. Water, cranberry muffin, chocolate croissant. On the way back I spot Kindereggs in the airport convenience store! Kindereggs! The official choking hazard of fun! I buy two, giggling madly.

600: Shuttle bus takes us to the gate. We idle away the time reading about the horrific plane crash which occurred in this very airport such a short time ago. Newspapers with this as their cover story are all over the airport.

630: On the plane.

700: Take off.

855: We finally arrive at BWI. We get our bags and a taxi.

940: Home at last. Taxi ride: $60. Kittens greet us with yowls of welcome.


At 8/07/2005 1:02 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Holy Crap.

I'm glad you made it home, and so sorry for your airport nightmare. Quick thinking on the Interfaith nap area. If you'd been not quite so groggy, you may've been able to convince mean security man that you were, in fact, praying and he has interrupted you and your god will be angry!
Of course he may've heard that one before.
To sum up:
glad you're home.
sorry about horrible air canada experience.
who was it that got married?

At 8/07/2005 2:15 PM, Blogger K said...

Chris and Cartlotta, friends of Dad. Chris owns the Govinda Gallery and Carlotta is an artist. They're really cool.
Some Ireland pics up on Flickr. Working on more. May have to buy a pro account.

At 8/08/2005 8:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Kara; if you'd slept on your stomach with your arms stretched out over your head, and possibly with a small goddess statue at your fingertips, I bet he would have let you stay. But then you would have missed all that other fun!

At 10/07/2005 3:55 AM, Blogger freestuff2 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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