My flight to San Diego was supposed to leave Newark at 7:30pm, but the terrible weather coming across the east delayed the inbound flight. I got wind of that early in the day, and saw the flight was pushed off till 8:53. Still, I got to the airport about 2 hours early, so I could avoid driving in the crappy weather. As I waited for the airport monorail, the departures board changed from 8:53 to 9:44. Sigh. Well, with the 3-hour gain, I wouldn’t be getting in too late.
I figured I’d spend some time in the Presidents Club, but it was warm, humid, and there were two-year-old twins running in circles around the place, screaming.
So I headed over to Gallagher’s for a nice steak dinner around 7:15, feeling I’d earned it. I made my order, and checked my iPhone for messages and e-mail. Why, there’s one from Continental! My flight is leaving at 7:45pm and I need to be at the gate!
I got up, grabbed my bag and my carry-on, and found my waiter. I said, “My flight might be here early, but I’m not sure. I have to run over to find out. I’m really sorry!” He told me not to worry about it as I hurried out; in his hands was a plate with my salmon appetizer.
I got to the gate, and found a lot of puzzled passengers. No one knew why we were suddenly listed as a 7:45 takeoff, especially since the gate indicated a 7:45 takeoff . . . for a flight to Las Vegas. Still, the main departures board had us listed at 7:45 and, since there was not a single rep from Continental at the gate, we waited.
Eventually, a stewardess walked up to the desk. We asked her what was up, and she said, “Well, I’m supposed to be working that flight to San Diego, and I don’t know why they just posted this time. The incoming plane isn’t here, so there’s no way we can be leaving at 7:45.”
The passengers, many of whom were biotech executives and scientists waiting to get out to SD for the big conference, were exasperated. Then the two-year-old twins showed up, with their parents and two more kids. One of the twins was well-behaved, but the other was screaming her head off.
I said to the stewardess, “Y’know, I was making my dinner order at Gallagher’s when I got that 7:45 notice.”
“Did you get to eat? Gallagher’s is great!”
“Nope. So, can you do me a favor? In the off-chance that they bring in another plane or something and decide to board us in the next hour, can you please give me a call on my cell and let me know, so I can get back here?”
So, yes, on my first night away from my wife, I technically did give a stewardess my number.
With that, I headed back to Gallagher’s, and discovered that they’d kept my table for me, right down to the half-empty glass of water! I found my waiter, who said, “I didn’t think you’d be back! Let me get your salmon, and we’ll start your steak order.”
We added a G&T to the order, and I was a happy man. Even when the restaurant’s Muzak system decided to play James Taylor’s Fire & Rain. In an airport.
I headed back to the gate around 8:30 to check on the flight. It had changed back to a 9:44 departure. I’d been checking on Continental’s PDA page, which is an awesome idea, even though it showed me that I was #20 on the first-class upgrade list.
Around 9:15, we got word that the incoming flight had been delayed because of weather, and had been re-routed to Cleveland. It was going to arrive shortly, and would be brought over by 9:30, with a boarding time of 10pm. The board above the gate changed times to 10:13. As we got closer to 10, the time on the board changed to 10:25. Then it changed to “DELAYED” with no time of departure. That’s when we were informed that the plane had originated in Mexico City and thus needed to land at the B terminal and clear customs before getting towed over to the C terminal, where we waited.
When 11pm rolled around with no sign of our plane, passengers began calling their hotels to make sure their rooms were going to be waiting for them. I’d done the same early in the day, figuring on weather-delays. Of course, I didn’t figure on hitting 11pm with no set time of departure.
We were excited to see a plane roll up and passengers disembark, but one of the other stewards told me, “That’s not our plane.” They felt bad that the passengers were getting excited over this arrival.
Midnight eventually hit, and we were the last flight in our area of the terminal, except for an El Al flight to Tel Aviv, which was cordoned off from the rest of the gate area. They finally cattle-called us on to board, eschewing the Elite/everybody else split. The family with the two-year-old twins was ahead of me, and managed to block up the line for quite a while with clearing up the tickets for all of their family members.
Of course, the screaming one was in the row in front of me.
And, boy, could she scream. It took all the Xanax, gin, Bose noise-reducing headphones and illicit (we were below our cruising altitude) iPod use available to drown her out.
Fortunately, once we got off the ground, a stewardess asked me and the gentleman sharing my row (only two of us for three seats, thankfully) if we’d switch over to the exit row; the family of three there included a 13-year-old, which was against regs. We headed back, and passed the 5-hour, 40-minute flight in relative quiet, landing at 3:15am. The movie was Definitely, Maybe. I looked at it a little but didn’t listen in. I had two thoughts about it:
a) Abigail Breslin is adorable and I hope she has a long career ahead of her
b) Ryan Reynolds appears to have no interior life whatsoever. I have decided to call him Big Empty.
Then, touchdown! Since I had no checked luggage, all that was left was getting to my hotel and getting some sleep!
Not so fast, Mr. Roth! In fact, all that was left was finding a way to my hotel from the airport, since there was only one cab at the taxi-stand and no dispatcher.
I considered going all GTA and jacking a car, but realized I was in no shape to drive. This is rare for me, since alcohol, Xanax and loud music usually make me invulnerable to insight, but I knew I was flying on autopilot.
I decided to call my hotel (thanks, iPhone!) and ask them for their cab service’s number. Then I called the company and said, “Airport. Terminal 2. Late flight. At least 25 fares are standing on line. More coming out of baggage claim. Send help.”
And they did! I got to my room at 3:45am, slept(ish) for 5+ hours, and managed to get to the convention center in time to get my badge, set up our booth, and blow off tonight’s dinner plans with my coworkers.
Thanks for listening.