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31 August 2010 @ 11:42 pm
While I’m itching to tell you all about our Orlando mini-break, I can’t do that without starting at the beginning. In turn, I really ought not talk about the beginning without getting into how it all ended.

Sorry, kids: pictures of Hogsmeade will have to wait on tales of transportation.

It all began with kenneling the kitties: four kitties in four far-flung spots in the house, four crates, a long drive to the kennel and torrential rain. That’s all you really need to know (oh, except for that I’m the worst kitty owner ever since I had no problem abusing their trust and affection to get them crated up. also: Handsome Tom is cautious but Not Remotely Bright). Don was working at Faire, so once I’d singlehandedly shunted the kitties off onto the lovely staff at Applewood, I spent the rest of my rainy afternoon cleaning and doing laundry and being a bit of freak about having the house in proper order before we left. Not that I have our house in proper order when we’re NOT traveling; just a weird nesting thing. Judge me as you will.

Don came home a bit early; we went out for a bite to eat and came home to a message that our US Airways flight out of Stewart International Airport (Newburgh, NY) to Philadelphia (where we’d connect to an Orlando flight) had been cancelled. “Rain. Can’t get the plane there. Also - maybe - monkeys,” was the excuse we were given. Brilliant. Don was on the phone with customer service for the better part of an hour, even as I was researching flights out of Westchester should we have no other options. As it turned out, they were able to book us another flight out of Stewart on Delta. This one was going through Atlanta, and would get us there a bit earlier.


Except for an early morning mishap,* our Monday travels were quite painless.

*~~*insert vacation goodtimes here*~~*

Friday morning, we had an early breakfast and checked out of our hotel. We had a leisurely drive to the airport, complete with Excellent! stop at a local mall, and enjoyed an uneventful first leg of our flight into Philadelphia... where we found that our connecting flight was cancelled.

No reason given.

No more US Airways flights out that night. All flights on other airlines were also fully booked.

The woman behind the US Airways desk was not forthcoming with information (not sure if she was prevaricating or really didn’t know; Don suspects the former). She offered to set us up in a hotel that we might get a flight the next morning; not an option, since Don had to be at Faire early Saturday. As the afternoon went on, more people showed up looking to connect on the cancelled flight. Finally, around the time our flight was supposed to have departed, a group of ten abandoned travelers had amassed. It’s worth noting that Don and I were easily the youngest in the group. After a whole lot more haggling and non-answers, ground transportation was secured. It was another hour after that until we had a twenty-seater bus to take the ten of us, at long last, to Newburgh. All that remained was to secure any checked baggage (all there, save for that of the elderly woman who was FORCED to check her carry-on (which held all of her meds) in Phoenix which in turn NEVER made it onto the plane) and the pay the bus driver (the haggling... OH! the haggling!).

At around 6:30 p.m. (the time we would have been landing at Stewart), we left Philadelphia. The driver had a GPS, so we didn’t worry overmuch. Sure, he took the NJ Turnpike, but that gets you to 287. No worries. Only he didn’t take that exit. After a while, Don leaned over to me. “I think,” he murmured, “he’s taking us to Newark.” We waited to see if the drive would make a move to the exit. When he did not, we breathed a sigh of relief. For whatever reason, he was taking the long route, but we’d eventually get there.

As we travelled along, we a bit chatted with the other passengers. There was the elderly Sheriff who was scheduled to train State Trooper rookies. The older woman with her considerably older mum (who had a not entirely secure colostomy bag). The elegant woman in her sixties who, understandably, had nothing positive to say about anything at all, the somewhat befuddled seventies-ish woman. The two gents who were a bit rough and tumble but very sweet. The dumpling lady with the lost luggage, who was supposed to attend a high school reunion the next day. “I don’t even have a comb for my hair. It’s in my bag.” None of us had eaten in a long while. We were all rather put out by our circumstances. What I’m saying is, I don’t think it’s the least bit surprising that we all rather lost our shit when our driver went over the GWB into Manhattan.

“What are you doing?”

“Your airport is in New York.” 

”New York STATE!

There was a bit of back and forth between weary, hunger addled passengers to determine our best course of action. The PIP sprang to mind until the clear-minded among us recalled we couldn’t take our wee swanky bus that way. It was up to the Tappan Zee, then along the NYSThruway to 84 West and, at long freaking last, to Newburgh and Stewart International. It was well after 10 p.m. when we arrived. There was no love or compassion for our driver. It was all “Give me my bag. I will thank you by not punching you or delivering a verbal tirade at full volume.”

As Don and I shuffled wearily to the long-term parking lot (the one nice thing about Stewart? this lot is within spitting distance of the main terminal), I asked my love to check my car’s tires. “Please tell me none of them are flat.” They weren’t. We were free to go... until we saw befuddled woman wandering through the lot. “Do you need help finding your car?”

“I’m supposed to have a rental. I don’t know where to go.”

Don handed me his bag. “I’ll help you find it. Let’s go back toward the terminal.”

At that moment, another gentleman was wheeling his case across the bumpy pavement. Having overheard our exchange, he spoke up. “The lot’s right over here. I’ll take you.”

We thanked him profusely, stumbled into our car and made our way home. At about 11:30 p.m., we walked through the door. Don had a sandwich, a hefty scotch and a snack or three. I had two glasses of wine and, because I am a crazy person, started unloading our cases and doing laundry. In my defense, it was the one thing I was in control of the entire day. I think I can be forgiven my enthusiasm.

*Packing the car really wasn’t all that complicated: we each had one carry-on wheelie bag and a briefcase After we’d stowed both wheelie bags in my car’s hatch, I placed my briefcase there as well. “I’m going to keep mine up front,” my beloved told me. Hand on the raised hatch door, I began to pull it down with sufficient force to close it securely even as Don moved to put his briefcase in the hatch. Hatch door met Don’s head. Hard.

And here’s where I’m a bad person (AKA a person who has lived these many years with Don Kilcoyne - the man who is Always Right and Never Wrong)... I simply said, “Are you all right?”

I did not apologize. I did not assume fault. I simply checked surreptitiously for blood, waited for the stars to clear, and figured if it was all that bad he’d let me know.

He assured me he was well enough. Wonder of wonders, about twenty minutes later, he actually said, “It wasn’t your fault.”

I know.” That’s right. I didn’t take that opportunity to apologize unnecessarily, nor did I give in to the urge to ‘neener neener neener’. I count this a moment of considerable personal growth. “I still want to know you’re not concussed.”

So. The moral of the story is never fly US Airways, ever, unless you're keen on vast amounts of suck. Likewise eschew Stewart. Westchester isn't that much further away, and it has a LOT more flights while still being less horrible then the vast, hulking Newark and kin. Also, Westchester is where my dashing pilot Dad rescued a wee abandoned and abused kitty who became my psychotic feline BFF.

Heh. I may be a bit hazy on the 'moral of the story' thing.
aryianaaryiana on September 1st, 2010 04:09 am (UTC)
Glad you made it home finally in one piece! I have never had any (good) luck with US Air either....

If you should ever find yourself stuck in Philadelphia, please remember we are close enough to come and get you and of course we do know the way back to Warwick!!

It was also great seeing you this past Sunday.... miss your aura around the shire!!
pheylanpheylan on September 1st, 2010 12:13 pm (UTC)
We took US Air on our trip this August. While we didn't have any where NEAR the problems you had, we won't take it again.
harpiegirl4harpiegirl4 on September 1st, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC)
US Air is the worst. I actually had a problem, which granted, was my own fault, but when I went to the desk to ask for help they literally ignored me for an hour. The manager talked to the guy who was on his first day and had no more than a third grade education, and then disappeared into the back never to return. He didn't know squat, of course, and said he'd have to wait for the manager to return in order to help me. She never did. After an hour, I was so upset that I simply went to a different airline and bought a new ticket and cut my losses. I would rather WALK to my destination than give my money to those horrible people ever again.
Cattomincloset on September 1st, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Thank you all for the valuable info on the joys of US Air - I know which airline I will try my best to NOT be using to get to Wisconsin in October now.
Zoë Tzoethor on September 1st, 2010 04:38 pm (UTC)
I've chosen to lump all of the "Never fly X airline" advice into one convenient package: Always fly Southwest. I love them so much that I forgive them for using "luv" in their slogan/logo/thingy.
Kerry: Superior Dr Horriblescreamingdolai on September 1st, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
Kelly, you were part of a modern day Canterbury Tales with the rest of the pilgrims on the bus!

What a great souvenir from your trip...a precautionary tale against US Air & idiot bus drivers. Much akin to mine of Continental and "Never let Peter plan a trip anywhere ever again."

And fuck it, fly out of Newark. It's big, ugly, and mean, but it's a major hub and more likely not going to pull shit like this to you.
Kelladyjoust on September 2nd, 2010 03:04 am (UTC)
"Kelly, you were part of a modern day Canterbury Tales with the rest of the pilgrims on the bus!"

How did I miss that?

Newark has screwed me in it's own way; while it's not likely to pull this particular bit of crap, it will delay my initial flight so I have all of ten minutes to sprint to my connecting flight while my luggage sits on a cart and watches me sail away without it.

Hmph. I need a personal jet. Or the power of flight.
Annephloxyloxy on September 2nd, 2010 01:56 am (UTC)
Ugh, that sounds horrendous. I'm glad you two made it back in one piece!