I am writing this, sitting on a cold faux marble floor in our bathroom at the Holiday Inn, just outside of Baltimore-Washington Airport. It is 5:00 AM and I can’t sleep. In order not to disturb Helaine and Stef, I have adopted this as my temporary office.
The free wireless access works much better here than in the actual room!
That we are here is some sort of minor miracle. If you fly on airplanes and are used to being treated like fecal material, please read this story, made even better by this email from meteorologist Bob, in Florida.
gon, wst (westerly ri) both went to snow last hour
dad went to snow 5 mins ago.
good thing you left when you did.
The GON he mentions is Groton/New London Airport, arguably Connecticut’s airport most likely to report rain when others are seeing snow! His dad is in North Branford, also less likely to see a quick change to snow.
Yesterday morning, when it looked like we’d be seeing significant snow, sleet and freezing rain, and knowing we had to get to California now or miss our cruise ship, I called Southwest Airlines. The best way to summarize the opening of the conversation is to quote Rick Springfield’s, “Don’t Talk To Strangers.”
“I’m begging you, please”
Though I explained my situation, the agent couldn’t help. Southwest Airlines had policies in place.
I pleaded my case for a few minutes before asking, nicely, if I could speak to a supervisor. I tried everything, including the option of moving us to Islip, a 2:30 hour drive. The supervisor listened to our plight (Linda from Albuquerque. “I’m not the bilingual Linda in Albuquerque.”) but wouldn’t budge.
Finally, she broke down. She understood the fragility of our cruise plans and that Southwest was booked solid, should our flight be canceled. They would move us out of Connecticut Monday night and we could pick up the rest of our itinerary on Tuesday.
Quickly, Helaine went to hotwire.com and found a hotel at Baltimore-Washington Airport. Last minute, Holiday Inn – under $70.
When I told my friend Peter, someone who had racked hundreds of thousands of miles over the years, mostly on United, he said he was amazed. Southwest had done the right thing for me and for Southwest, but he had never heard of it happening before.
Let me add, this is not because I’m “TV-boy” in Connecticut. These operators were in Albuquerque.
Now the real test began – we weren’t packed. Helaine, our ‘packing supervisor’ and all around ‘logistics specialist,’ would have to compress 24 hours of planning into six! And she did.
This was one of those times when Helaine’s incredible organizational acumen took over. She was worried we wouldn’t make it, but she faced the task and moved forward.
There were chores out of the house she needed to do, and things for me to do while she was gone. I made a list. I am not a list maker. I understood today had to be different.
I’m not going to take my usual cheap shot about how much baggage we finally brought. It’s a lot. At this point how could I mind?
We got to Bradley Airport in Hartford to check in. The change of plans left me with a legit ticket, but Helaine and Steffie (both flying non-revenue) with nothing on paper and some cobbled together exceptions that the computer couldn’t handle on its own.
Donna from Torrington was our customer service agent at the ticket counter at Bradley. When she read the notes on her computer she stopped. She said she hadn’t seen anything like this before… and neither had the computer. It refused to issue Helaine a boarding pass (though it had for Steffie, and had hours ago for me).
She called the help desk to get some assistance. The person on the other end also commented on how unusual the remarks with our reservation were.
Because of Helaine and Steffie’s late re-booking, their tickets were marked for extra screening by the TSA. No problem. At this point we were way ahead of the game. Screen on.
So, here we are at the Holiday Inn at BWI. We had a lovely ride on the courtesy van with a bunch of airline employees and four drunk folks from Cleveland, kicked off their flight to sober up!
Our flight from BWI to LAX doesn’t leave until this evening. Based on what I’ve seen of the Northeast’s weather, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were open seats and we made it out of Baltimore a whole lot earlier.
We are not in Los Angeles yet, but we are much closer than mileage alone would imply. And, a huge burden has been lifted from our shoulders.
If we were home right now, hoping to make our scheduled flight, we’d be out-of-luck. No one in bed in Connecticut now will make that Wednesday cruise.
I think I’m going to try to go back to sleep.