DO Logo    A travelling nightmare in 2000

 It all started on our trip to the airport on Friday, 02 June. As we approached the exit for the airport we saw flashing lights, flares and a policeman laying down more flares. The exit ramp was at a standstill and the policeman was laying flares so as to block the ramp from any other cars entering. I looked at Doug and said, "Get out the map!" As he scrambled to find an alternate route, I lucked out and noticed the next intersection led us to the road for the airport. Phew! 'Disaster' averted. (Little did we know....) We got to the airport and I dropped Doug, most of the luggage, and Erika off at the curb. Thankfully a skycap came right to our car and used his cart to get all our luggage inside the building. I then drove the car to long term parking and grabbed the diaper bag and the car seat and hopped on the shuttle bus... the people aboard where like, "Everything but the baby, eh?" and I said, "Oh NO! I KNEW I forgot SOMETHING!" I was convincing enough that the driver actually took her foot off the gas. LOL I then added, "She'll be all right for a week or so, don't you think?" Everyone laughed.
I met up with Doug and Erika and we proceeded through a sizable line; as we neared the counter the reason for the line was revealed: our flight had been canceled. Luckily (?) we had gotten to the airport about an hour before the flight was scheduled to leave, so we had time to wait in this line and figure out, "What's next?" (Not that time mattered... the flight was canceled!) Anyway, our choices were another Midwest Express flight that left at 3 or 4 pm, I don't remember exactly, or a TWA flight that left around 1:30. (It was around 9:30 at this point.) The Midwest Express flight, like our original flight, was non-stop. The TWA went to St. Louis and we could catch a connecting flight to Newark 1/2 hour after landing. That didn't leave a lot of slop time, but leaving earlier sounded better to us so we took the TWA flight. Unfortunately this meant standing in another line, with all the regularly scheduled passengers as well as all the people from our canceled flight. Oh, by the
way, our flight was canceled because the gas truck had run into the plane. Ooops! We got through the line, called my parents and told them our new flight plan. Upon arriving in Newark my parents were going to meet us with their second car which we were borrowing for our 10 day trip on the East Coast. WAY better than spending all the money for a rental!!!!!! =) We moseyed around the airport, ate lunch, moseyed some more and finally made our way to the plane. Got on,
went to St. Louis. Got off the plane and went directly to the little monitor to find out how far we had to run to catch our next flight. Uh oh.... (can you guess?) Canceled. Seems there was a storm that was/would be affecting Newark and much of the East Coast from Philly on up to Boston, and many many flights were canceled or delayed. On to the new line! Thank goodness it was Doug and I traveling together with Erika. While one of us stood in line, the other could wander with
Erika and keep her relatively entertained. I marveled at the mom in front of me in line with 2 kids under 5 with her. They were angels and I made sure I told her so. It was something like 2 or 3 in the afternoon at this point, and we managed to get booked on a 9:45 flight, which would get in around 1 am. We explored the St. Louis airport. Doug has been there a few times on recent business trips so he was able to steer us around quite well. After dinner we noticed that there was another TWA flight headed for Newark at 6:30. We decided to try to go standby on that flight.
Another line. After standing in that one for seemingly an hour, someone actually manned the counter and we found out the flight was full (surprise!) and there would be no standby. Oh well.
We did get to hear other's tales of woe, though, and we considered ourselves lucky. Many other people had once in a lifetime opportunities (Fri. night tickets for Miss Saigon, etc.) that could not be rectified. And Erika was a total trooper through it all. We finally boarded our flight, though it ended up taking off something like 1/2 hour late. At this point we were just glad to be on our way. Several other passengers had been on earlier flights and had sat out on the taxiway for up to 2 hours. We at least could run around the airport, go to the bathroom, make phone calls and stuff like that. We got in around 1 in the morning and didn't head to CT as was our original plan. We spent the night at my parents in NJ and went to CT the next morning.

*** the trip happened. We visited with Family in CT, and in NJ, and went to a wedding ****

Coming home. We should have guessed. I called the airline on the way to the airport. We had a 7:20 flight and I was calling around 5 pm. The automated information line said, "There is no departure information on this flight at this time." Uh oh. So we arrive. And I dump Doug off once again, and it took FOREVER to park the car, and I get back in the building and find Doug (I must add at this point that it's like 90 degrees outside and hardly cooler in the airport. *sigh*) We check in, it's about 6 pm and the Midwest Express attendant tells us, "There is a slight delay on your flight, but they'll make it up on the stopover in Milwaukee." We say "Fine" (Like we can say anything else) and get ourselves checked in and wait for my parents so I can give the keys to their car back and tell them where the car is! My parents show up, we all go to the gate and we notice the flight, instead of leaving at 7:20, is scheduled to leave at 8:55! My parents hang out a bit with us but then leave, as there's no reason for THEM to hang out in the airport for hours on end! And our wait continued. Then the board says the flight will leave at 10:20!! Around 8:30 or so, the
boards says "Flight canceled" Doug heads back for the ticket counter. About 15 minutes later someone shows up at the gate and starts rebooking passengers on other flights. I ask if someone is able to do that for Doug at the check-in counter and he says "Yes", so I stop worrying that Doug is at the wrong place. Erika and I and our carry-on luggage settle in for the wait.
Once again it is a storm that has caused the problems, although the first delay was supposedly for a mechanical problem. This is important, as on the way out when our 2nd flight was canceled due to the storm on the East Coast we were told that no food vouchers were given for weather delays.
Erika wound up napping for almost an hour and Doug finally returned. I had noticed the line at the counter next to me had gone horribly slowly....... I found out the reason. There were apparently no flights going our way that night. (How can that be? I still don't understand that. But I suppose the weather was once again a contributing factor.) Doug chatted with other people in line and once again, we were actually 'lucky', compared to say, the woman with her 104 year old grandmother in a wheelchair! The grandmother's daughter, the woman's mother, had recently died and they were coming from the funeral. Grandma was moving to go live with her granddaughter. They were also offered a flight the next day and put up at our same hotel. By this time there was quite a lightning storm going on outside. At around 9:30, I'm guessing, we made our way to the baggage area where we picked up our 4 checked bags and added them to our stroller, car seat, carry-on bag and diaper bag and made our way to the curb. The airline had made arrangements for us at the airport Sheraton. We come to find out the hotel shuttle arrives at area E. Luckily I
managed to grab one of those luggage carts from someone who was leaving in a taxi and we piled everything on and made our way to the monorail. (An elevator ride, a long walk down a corridor, another elevator ride and the monorail. Another elevator down to the waiting area for the shuttle.
We emerged from the somewhat cool building into the heat of the night and... wet. It was raining on us. The waiting area near the curb was covered, but to get there you walked through open air. Brilliant design, I must say. We stood near the curb and watched a litany of hotel shuttles pull up, but not ours. When ours finally did, EVERYONE rushed towards it, and our party of 3 with 9 zillion bags didn't have a prayer. We graciously conceded and decided to wait for the next one. ("25 minutes", we were told.) The wind picked up and we were treated to a fine mist for the duration of the wait. We didn't want to give up our space at the curb for fear of missing the next shuttle. I did race inside at one point to change Erika's diaper. Having to run through that uncovered area almost wasn't worth it. I emerged and not too long later the shuttle did show up... but it stopped behind two other shuttles and once again, everyone ran towards it and we were trying desperately to get all our stuff over to it. When we did I uncharacteristically stepped in front of some other people and said, "I'm sorry, we've been waiting forever and we're getting on
this shuttle." The guy that I was directly cutting off actually stepped back, assessed our situation, and immediately said, "Here, let me help." Hoorraaaayyyyy! He helped us get our baggage on and Erika on and the stroller folded up and stowed and at least 3 people on the already packed bus offered me their seat (I was holding Erika.) I refused, said I would stand (and later regretted it.) The ride was, uh, unsteady to say the least and a bit longer than I anticipated. Our hopes that
taking a later shuttle would mean the check-in counter would be empty were dashed. However, Erika was so wonderful through all this, and we were thankful to even have a hotel, so all in all we were still in pretty good spirits. Or we were punchy. Not sure which. And besides, getting grumpy wasn't going to do anyone any good. Erika and I toured the lobby area while Doug, bless his heart, stood in yet another line. Apparently another hotel had overbooked so some of THEIR guests were also standing in this line. Lots of disgruntled people. Wet disgruntled people. Tired, wet, disgruntled people. At this point its somewhere around 11 pm. This hotel had a huge atrium near the lobby and over the pool area. As I went to check the pool hours, I got dripped on. The atrium was leaking. I was not heartened by this. As I roamed around I noticed there was a wedding party, and we passed several of these revelers in our travels around the hotel that night. ...
We get our room assignment and with one of the bellhops and our luggage we make our way to room 312. Doug goes to put his key in the door, only to find the door is open; the light is on, the bedclothes are mussed, the room REEKS of alcohol and smoke... "Uh, I think someone is in here." The bellhop agrees, looks at Doug's room assignment and brings us back to the elevators and says, "Wait here, I will go get this fixed." Doug went with him. They return. (Erika and I have
been playing with a ball in the meantime, a very neat inflatable 'Koosh Jr. soccer ball' that was a godsend!) Apparently the card said "317", not "312"; can you say HANDWRITING? Anyway, we head to the other side of the hotel, find 317 (right near the elevator/stairs/ice machine but at this point who the hell cares?) and we semi-collapse. I had told Doug hours ago that I wanted to give Erika and I a bath when we got in the room, as we were both very icky from being hot and
sweaty all day. It was late enough that I wasn't sure I still wanted to do that, but one look at Erika and I decided a quick run through the shower would be a good idea. Doug got Erika stripped down to her diaper while I also undressed and got out stuff for our shower. Are you ready for this? A speaker starts blaring and a voice comes on and says, "An emergency has been reported in the hotel. Please leave your room immediately and walk down the stairs to the nearest hotel exit.
DO NOT use the elevators. Walk, do not run, to the nearest exit now." Whhoooopp, wwhhhooooop, whhooooop. An alarm continued to sound. Doug grabbed PJ's for Erika while I dressed and scrambled looking for my watch, rings, purse, etc. I also grabbed Erika's diaper bag, shoes and (remember, it's raining out there) our 3 raincoats.
There is running and some shouting out in the hallway while we are doing this. I'm completely expecting to spend several hours out in the rain, at this point, and quite frankly I didn't think we'd ever see the rest of our luggage again. We threw Erika in the stroller and head out the door (although I'm not sure what we were thinking. Stroller? We were headed for the stairs!!!!!!!!! Duh.) As we emerged from the room we spotted 3 men standing in the hallway. At least 2 of them seemed to be on the hotel staff; they had uniform-looking clothes on and carried walkie-talkies. They told us it was a false alarm, that someone (remember those wedding revelers?) had pulled the fire alarm and we could go back to our rooms. "Are you sure?" we questioned, very apprehensive and not quite trusting. "Yes, we are sure. It's ok." We retreated back into the room warily, but within a minute or two, the speaker emitted a voice that confirmed the false alarm. I started to cry. And laugh. Shower, TV, got Erika to fall asleep in the 2nd bed, and then Doug and I collapsed in the other.
Got up at 7. Ate breakfast (paid for by airline). At breakfast one of our fellow travelers from last night's canceled flight tells us he's checked with the airline and our 11:30 flight is on a fog delay. Whoopee.
Packed and called bellhop. Got down just before the expected 9:15 shuttle. There's a line. (surprise!) We don't make it on the shuttle. "Oh, no" you say. But for once this works out in our favor. The hotel manager calls over a car (limo/taxi) and we get a free ride to the airport! What was really terrific was we got dropped off at the departure/check-in section, instead of Area E which would have meant the trek and monorail ride!! Whoo hoo! We checked in, there was no fog delay any longer, and we proceeded to the gate. Oh, yeah! Another good thing. When I told the person at check in that we had our car seat coming on the plane with us, they gave us row 1!! Bulkhead seating. Lots of legroom. And near the door. We waited, boarded pretty much on time, went to Milwaukee, had a short, scheduled stopover, and proceeded to Omaha. The first leg of the flight Erika slept almost the whole time; a wonderful stewardess kept her lunch and served it to us while we were on the ground in Milwaukee. That was SO NICE of her. We got a snack on the second leg. And now we are HOME!
-Kaz
PS 45 emails waiting. OK, ok, about a dozen of them were spam, but it still felt good. 4 phone messages, the first of which was "This is Midwest Express calling. Your flight this morning is canceled." (from the friday we left.)