Friday, February 16, 2007

First Casualty

The last I heard from Joe, he was negotiating an alternative journey due to his flight being cancelled. Apparently, due to bad weather on the East coast, his flight was on a long list of cancellations. A long list of one. Who knows if the weather was the real reason for killing his flight but since the weather was bad, the airline didn't have to pay for a hotel.

His dilemma when I spoke to him on a rapidly dying cellphone (his, not mine. I still had plenty of juice even though I forgot my charger as well and the phone is new enough that the charger that fits it hasn't quite hit the market yet.) was to stay in New York and see the sights getting to Ireland on Sunday, or overnight in New York, get to London and make it in on Sunday again, somehow make it to Ireland on Saturday when Katie, Molly, Bobby and Gino arrive or take a boat, arriving fully rested in time for his flight home.

I was fortunate to make my flight from Chicago since my original flight was delayed long enough to have me miss my connection. Amazingly, the ticket agent noticed this in advance and put me on the earlier, albeit delayed, flight to Chicago that arrived shortly after my original was supposed to have landed.

The impact of the snowstorm that blew through the Midwest on its way East to cancel that one transatlantic flight was still being felt and my flight to Ireland was full. In fact I was given the option of taking a middle seat or one by the emergency exit that didn't recline. My choices were bad or worse. I chose worse. You can't really appreciate reclining airline seats until you sit in one that doesn't for upwards of eight hours. I was happy enough to perform the door duties in case of emergency, but whoever did it last didn't do a good job of closing it. I was wearing a t-shirt, a flannel shirt, sweater and my coat and was freezing the entire way. And I also learned another way that the airlines are saving money. No extra blankets. At least not anywhere the flight attendant could get to at that particular moment as she was blithely patrolling the aisle. What's with stews these days. "Fly the friendly skies" seems to have somehow evolved into "Fly the 'I'm too busy checking things to bother with a passenger request on this non-cancelled transatlantic flight' skies".

In the six times that I've traveled to Ireland, the weather has disrupted the flights at least five times, all in the US. The ironic thing is that it's Ireland that has the reputation for rainy, dreary weather. That's usually not the case in my experience either and today is no exception. It's in the high 40s and partly cloudy, better than the mid-teens back home.

Time to pick up the car, shake off the jet lag and go explore and meet up with some cousins.

Have fun in New York, Joe.

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