Drama At The Airport

The first week in January I had the pleasure of going to Hawaii! But, the trip didn’t get off to the magical start I had hoped……in fact, the first few hours could be described as “nightmarish” or at least “very stressful”!

I had an early morning flight from Buffalo to a connecting flight in JFK and then a non-stop flight to Honolulu where I was to spend the night before starting my cruise the next day. Of course, I didn’t sleep a wink the night before – I never sleep the night before I travel – I lay there wide awake thinking of all the things I’m probably forgetting and all the wonderful things I’ll be doing on the trip! My mind overflows with thoughts that just won’t allow me to sleep. So, when the alarm went off, I got up, got in the shower, got dressed, and went downstairs to get ready to leave for the airport.

Here’s where the drama begins:

  1. I’m the person who always gets to the airport WAY early…….I end up sitting there reading and people watching while the flight before me boards! So, when I glanced at the clock when I got on the thruway and I saw I was only going to be getting there one hour early, I was in shock…..how did I misjudge my time so much??? But – that’s still not too bad, so I didn’t panic, yet!
  2. I usually park in the economy lot and take the shuttle to the gate…..so, I got to the lot and parked. I got out and got my luggage out of the trunk and waited at the shuttle stand…….no shuttles to be seen……15 minutes later, I was on the shuttle……OK, starting to get a little nervous, but told myself it would be OK!
  3. I had a little bit of a ticket glitch…….when I tried to check in on line the night before it would only let me check in for the JFK – Honolulu portion and the Buffalo – JFK portion wouldn’t come up as an option! I figured I’d just check in at the terminal – I went to the self check-in station and, again, the Buffalo – JFK portion wouldn’t show up! So, I went to the ticket counter and was # 3 in line……..I finally got up to the agent and she found my ticket, just fine – no problem – and checked me in!
  4. BUT…….it was too late to check my bags!!! WHAT??? I never had that happen — I just looked at her with a shocked look on my face and she must have noticed the color draining from my body, so she reassured me it was all OK – I could take my bag with me and they’ll check it at the gate – no problem……I have plenty of time……and even if I miss the flight, there is another one they can put me on that will still make my connection in JFK!
  5. I got to the security line……the L-O-N-G security line (even though I was able to use the Pre-Check line) and made my way to the scanners……I put my bag and my carry-ons on the belt and proceeded through the scanner……and I was randomly selected for a quick pat-down!
  6. I got through that and looked for my bags and one of the TSA guys said, “is this your bag?” and I said “yes” and he told me it had to be searched…….UGH —- since it was meant to be a checked bag, it had fluids in it that are OK for checked bags, but not for carry-on, which is what they check for in the security lanes…….the guy was very nice and acknowledged he realized it is a checked bag, but still had to search it…..he removed my mouthwash and closed my bag……then he asked what time my flight was and that he assumed I was running late cause I had my checked bag with me……I told him and he said to hurry cause the door was probably already closed, but there is a chance that they are still boarding!
  7. So, I walked as fast as I could and got to the gate TWO MINUTES after the doors closed!!!! GREAT!!!

So……I missed my flight!!! It was still there, but once they close the doors, they can’t open them back up! But……they were able to check my bags on the flight – so my luggage was going, but I was not! Sounds funny, now…….LOL! But, but agent said it was not a problem — they could book me on the next flight and I would still make my connection – no problem! So, I got all booked and went to sit down and do the reading and people watching I SHOULD have done a couple hours ago!!! If any ONE thing that went wrong didn’t happen, I would have made it…….All my fault – of course – I misjudged my time and that resulted in an avalanche of problems on top of problems…..so, I had no one to blame but myself!

I pulled up my new flight information on line and started to panic, again……..according to the information about the flight and my two boarding passes, it looked like I was going to be arriving just SEVEN MINUTES before the doors closed on my connecting flight!!! NO NO NO NO NO!!! So, I went up to the agent and asked about the gates and how far they were from each other (I’ve been to JFK – I know you could come in several miles from where you’re going out – yeah, slight exaggeration, but not by much)! She said they are in the same terminal – come in at gate 6 and leave on gate 30……she, said it won’t be a problem……but, skeptical me said “I’ll have seven minutes to get to the next gate before the doors close and I have a bad knee, so I don’t run and what if the first flight is delayed even a couple of minutes or the process of getting off the plane is slow with a lot of people ahead of me…..” she could see I was about to pass out, so she put her hand on my hand and tried to reassure me it was not going to be a problem……she, then changed my seat to the aisle seat in the first row so I could be the first person off and ordered me a wheel chair to get me to the next gate quickly! She, again said not to worry, it won’t be a problem (and I suddenly heard all the other “it’s not going to be a problems” I heard already before that point)!

A little more confident……just a little……I went to sit back down…..but my brain went into overdrive!!! I looked up my flight to Hawaii to see if there was another flight, just in case…….nope – that was the only flight out to Honolulu, so, if I miss that flight, I won’t be able to fly out till the next day……so, I looked up my cruise info and discovered that if I fly out the next day, that flight will arrive just 30 minutes before the gangway closes for the cruise…….and, I had no idea how far the docks are from the airport, but I did know that I would have to get off the plane, go to the luggage storage area to retrieve my luggage that will get in on time, but get stored overnight somewhere, and then get to a shuttle to the docks, and then get checked in for the cruise……I knew right then that if I didn’t make this connecting flight, that I would also miss my cruise………I’d be out the cost of the non-refundable hotel for that night, the non-refundable transfer from the airport to the hotel, and the non-refundable transfer from the hotel to the docks…….AND – I paid for a 1st class upgrade that is not transferable in a flight change situation and non-refundable!!! I would also have to arrange for transportation to the first port to join the cruise a day late and another hotel stay and miss out on the first shore excursion!!! The cha-ching sounds were echoing in my brain and I was working myself into a frenzy!!!

I was making myself SICK!!! I sat there sweating, chilled, nauseous, fighting back the tears, and with a mouth that was dryer than it has ever been in my life….but, I was too shaken to even think about getting out of my seat to go get something to drink!!! I just kept trying to tell myself that it was all going to be OK……I was not going to miss my connection…….it was all going to be OK!!! And, again – it was my own fault, so I stayed polite to all the airport personnel involved and, in turn, they were very nice and as helpful as possible to me……..

The flight boarded on time and I got settled in my seat…..still panicking because I still had that seven minute window to get to the next flight ahead of me! The captain came on to make his usual welcome announcement and I wasn’t really listening, but did hear him say “flight time will be about 55 minutes”!!! WHAT??? I stopped breathing for a minute and stopped the flight attendant as he walked by and said “did he say the flight was 55 minutes? Is that true? 55 minutes, not an hour and a half?” He said – yeah – 55 minutes – this flight always take 55 minutes!!! I looked at my itinerary and tickets, again, and it all said 1.5 hours…..and the agent at the gate confirmed the arrival time when I was worried about the connection……..but, it was all wrong —- I had 35 minutes to spare……that with the seven minutes I had gate to gate, I now had 42 minutes to make my connection……OMG!!! Everything WAS going to be OK!!!

I suddenly felt the tension melt off me and I thought I was going to slink into a puddle!!! I was able to slow my heart rate down and relax and smile…….and the tears I was fighting back came pouring out!!! I got control of that and fell asleep and slept like a rock till I felt the plane land…….right on time!!! I had time to get off the plane and walk to the next gate (good thing I had time, the wheel chair that was ordered for me wasn’t there) and even stop at the bathroom……I arrived at the next gate just before they started the boarding process!

I got in the first class line and was first to board the plane — that gave me a sense of satisfaction like I’ve never felt before…….I earned that spot!!! LOL I found my seat (the kind that lay flat for long flights – this one was going to take 11 hours) and gladly accepted the mai-tai the flight attendant brought to me and he also kindly snapped my photo!

There was one more little glitch, though…….we sat there quite a while after the scheduled take-off time when the captain came on and apologized for the delay – he said there was a piece of luggage that was on the manifest that could not be found, so they had to wait till it was found and secured on board! I didn’t ask and never confirmed, but I’ll bet my life’s savings that it was MY bag…..it had to be!!! LOL The flight was amazing — very comfortable……I got to watch three movies and had the best airplane food I’ve ever had!!! And, I got to my hotel, had a good night’s sleep, and made it to the ship the next day…….and the cruise was AWESOME!!!! (I’ll start my blog posts later today) Thanks to Buffalo airport agents……Jet Blue……and Hawaiian Airlines!!!

Yep — everything was OK, after all…….


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