Saturday, April 4, 2009

Why I am not in Ann Arbor in 10 easy steps

As I indicated in my Twitter, I was planning on going to Ann Arbor this weekend. Instead, I'm still on long island after spending half of yesterday getting too or sitting around the airport. Here's what happened.

1. I arrive at JFK an hour and change before my departure time which was good because it turns out my gate was at the international terminal. The gates to the right and left of mine are departing for Holland and South Africa respectively and I'm not sure if I've ever seen so much blond hair in my life.

2. Approximately 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time, we are informed that our plane has not left Detroit and the flight has been delayed from 4:06 to 6:30. The incredibly helpful and not at all sarcastic Northwest employees cite weather problems as the reason.

3. Because of the delay, I venture into the terminal in search of food. However, given that this is the international terminal, the only options are duty free cigarettes and hard liquor. Since neither of these make for particularly nutritious dinner items, I settle for some Skittles from the vending machine and buy a copy of Jose Saramago's Blindness to pass the time.

4. Around 6, some of my fellow passengers begin receiving e-mail updates that the flight has again been delayed. Ten or so minutes later, its announced that, due to air traffic difficulties, we won't be able to leave until 8:30.

5. By 7:30 my fellow passengers are becoming restless. The Northwest flight to Minneapolis in the gate next to ours is experiencing similar delays and there is a lot of cross talk about how this is all due to the Northwest/Delta merger. Apparently a few people on my flight originally purchased tickets through Delta for a flight earlier in the day that was canceled in favor of this one.

6. At 8:00 or so, the increasingly helpful and not at all sarcastic Northwest employees inform us that the flight has been again delayed until Saturday morning at 7:15am. Apparently the flight crew for our plane, which may or may not have ever left Los Angeles for Detroit, is being forced to take their mandated rest time. However, because the delays were not the fault of the airlines, they will not be providing hotel vouchers for stranded passengers.

7. Already frustrated, I collect my gear and begin to head back to train station. However, before I even leave the gate, an announcement is made that all Northwest flights out of JFK for the remainder of the evening have been canceled due to rain and air traffic problems. At this point, the Northwest employees at the gate call their manager who, it turns out, either left for the day or never existed at all.

8. When I inquire if there is any way I could get on one of the departing Delta flights to the Midwest and then catch a connecting flight to Detroit I am reminded that while Northwest and Delta are now part of the same company, they are in fact separate companies, making sure a request laughably ridiculous. Also, in lieu of dealing with me in person, I am given a phone number to call to ask for a refund and register any complaints I may have.

9. Hours after I get back to Stony Brook I receive an e-mail from Northwest updating me that my flight has been canceled and that I can request a refund in the next 24 hours.

10. Maybe next time I'll travel by Brontosaurus instead. (I actually don't have a 10th part, but 10 makes for a better title than 9).