BW is not a seasoned sky traveler.
THE RULES OF TRAVEL BY PLANE
Rule No. 1: Never, ever take a 7:30 a.m. flight.
Rule No. 2: Never ever believe anything you read when reserving your flight or anything flight employees tell you after you get to the airport. They are trained to tell you what you want or need to hear at that moment. And they are very good at surmising in just a few seconds from your blabbering what that might be. Their number one priority is not customer service, but minimizing their job-related stress.
Rule No. 3: Expect the unexpected.
Because I booked such an early flight, we had to leave the bayou at 5 a.m. (see Rule No. 1) That was the foggiest morning so far this winter. I was driving LilSis’s car, and at times we could not see ten feet in front the vehicle. Needless to say, our stress levels were being tested at the outset of our journey even though we had done all the recommended online check-in procedures, even paying for our checked baggage online.
Once we arrived and parked in long-term parking, we headed for the Delta baggage counter. We asked because I think our boarding passes said something about “equipment change in Atlanta”. We were confused. We asked the agents if this flight had an actual plane change in Atlanta, and with smiles, they said, “No plane change.” (See Rule No. 2).
Stumbling Through Security
No one told me what going through security would be like, though. Good grief. Did you know it’s like stripping in front of hundreds of strangers? (See Rule No. 3) You have to empty your pockets, remove your jewelry, belts, watches, sweaters, jackets, coats, and shoes. Put it all, including your carry on and purse, into plastic crates that run through the scanner on a conveyor belt. Then you have to either walk through a scanner, x-ray machine, or get groped by a gloved TSA agent (no thanks). Afterward, we grabbed the crates off the conveyor and went over to a bench where and re-dressed while trying not to notice others doing the same around you. I thought it was all too personal, to be quite frank with you.
Don’t forget anything in your vehicle, because once you pass security, it’s best you don’t try to leave the “Ticketed Passenger Only area”. If you do, you must go through the whole security process again.
Printed paperwork and carry-ons in hand, we boarded the plane without difficulty, settled into our seats, and thought all was well until the captain came across the speaker telling us that Atlanta was fogged in, with planes circling. Rather than go there and have to wait in the sky, he opted to wait on the ground in New Orleans. One hour later, we were finally airborne.
So, my friends, what happens when your plane leaves the ground an hour late? I guess it’s fine if it’s a non-stop flight. However, we were to have a little layover in Atlanta, GA before continuing on the same plane to Buffalo, NY, or so we thought. Once we landed in Atlanta, they let all the folks who had to run to try to make their connecting flights, while the rest of us suckers just sat there and let them, thinking all was well with the world of flying. (Rule No. 2)
Not so. We thought we were getting off, letting them clean the plane, and getting back on. The last thing the flight attendant announced was that there had been a last-minute change of flight schedules. This plane would NOT be going on to Buffalo, so we were told to go talk to Delta customer service about getting booked on a different flight. Just like that, our best-laid plans were falling apart. It felt like being booted out of the nest with a well wish of “fly, little birdie, fly!”
Oh, the lessons we learned, people. Once we found the Delta Customer Service desk, the line was already about fifty people long, with others piling in line behind us. Once we waited long enough to have cut the distance in half, an agent told us we needed to scan our boarding passes to see whether we had already been re-booked. I held the line, while Heather went and did so. The scanner spat out a paper saying to go to the black phones on the wall and call this toll-free number.
NO! We wanted to wait in line and talk to a real person, but the big, bald, bossy agent continued down the line, chanting “Go to the black phones, people. Go to the black phones.” So just how long do you think it took for the sheeples to form a long line for the black phones? I held my place, while Heather headed to the black phones ahead of the crowd. I regretted not getting that slip of paper from her with the 1-800 number on it so I could call from my cell while waiting in line.
Before long, here came the town crier again: “Anyone not scanned their boarding pass? Anyone?” I meekly held mine up, he grabbed it, winked at me, and took it over to the scanner. When he returned smiling, I thought I might have hit the “auto-re-booking jackpot”, but the words came out like a broken record, “Go to the black phones on the wall.” (Rule No. 2)
Ah, not me. Now I had the 1-800 number and dialed it on my cell while standing stubbornly in this real-person line, hiding behind the tall woman in front of me. Soon, though, the bald agent’s demanding tone convinced me I should step out of line, doing so reluctantly. As I turned, LilSis approached saying “Don’t get out of line! We have to get back in line. My phone call got cut off! It’s flight 1043.” It was enough information for me, though.
The agent on the other end of my cell phone connection was happy to re-book me on Flight 1043 but could not guarantee me a seat beside my sister. That would be done at the boarding gate. So, off we went to find a sign with the boarding gate number for Flight 1043 to Buffalo and the departure time. We had about two hours to wait, so we found the gate and camped out there waiting for the an agent that we could attack, hoping to get new boarding passes for our new flight.
Changed Plans AGAIN
After consuming our stress-relief chocolates, an anonymous voice informed us that the boarding gate for Flight 1043 had been changed to a gate at the other end (of course) of the concourse. So off we went again. Once there, I got in line at the counter to try to get our boarding passes while Heather (LilSis) held our seats for us.
Behind the counter was a nice-looking man in a nice red coat. Earlier, I had seen a sign in the airport that said something about how important service was to Delta, and the “Red Coats are back!”. Okay, then, this man is going to give me great service and get us our boarding passes.
“Ma’am, what do you need? This is not a line. I’m just helping this lady. You need to go over there to that counter, which will open in about ten minutes.” So much for my savior in the red coat. I sat back down and waited for the counter to open.
The agent at the boarding counter didn’t have a red coat,but it was okay because he was Jamaican and had that “don’t worry, be happy” attitude. I handed him our paperwork and ID’s so he could print out our passes. Heather’s came out of the machine right away. Not mine, though.
You see, when I originally booked the flight online, I did not have my reading glasses on. I accidentally spelled my last name with an extra “l”. That mistake would haunt me through the whole trip.
The Jamaican agent said I would have to go back to Mr. Red Coat in order to get help. Once again, Mr. Red Coast was less than cordial to me. “Ma’am, what do you need? I won’t be able to assist you any time soon, because I’m helping this couple for a while, and then I have to go over there to a different desk and work out some problems for those people.” I went over and sat beside Heather, defeated. My problems weren’t as important as other people’s problems, apparently.
Jamaican Joe and an Extra I
Shortly, I went back to Jamaican Joe and brought the extra “l” in my sir name spelling to his attention, but he refused to think that would cause the problem. I suspected differently. I softly suggested that he enter my name with the misspelling. He softly asked me to stop out of line so he could help some other people. I sat down again, frustrated, while the boarding pass line got longer and longer.
Finally, Jamaica Joe took my paperwork across the way to Mr. Red Coat himself, asking him what he was doing wrong. I suspect it was the fact that he had not typed my last name in with the extra “l”. Once he did so, the printer spat my boarding pass out like it was glad to be rid of me. Lord knows I was glad to be rid of it.
By this time, it was late afternoon, and the flight to Buffalo was relatively uneventful. As we drew close to our destination, I looked out the window to see something hard to identify way below us. Turns out, it was Lake Eerie looking very eery, because it was frozen over. I watched as the frozen lake met the shoreline and could not believe my eyes when I saw snow-covered everything.
Snow in Buffalo
Not ever having lived in the north, I don’t know how snow works. I’ve seen some and even played in it when we had an occasional snow in north Louisiana, but it never lasted long and melted quickly. What amazed me most was that when we flew over the city, all the roofs and many of the treetops were still covered in snow. It was 54 degrees, and snow was piled up everywhere. I had never seen anything like it. We didn’t even need to wear our coats, yet the warmer air had not melted the snow.
One more thing: How could it be 54 degrees in Buffalo when the sun wasn’t even shining?
We rented a car and left the city by way of who knows where, because I was too busy looking at a map and failed to point out our exit. We missed our “through-way” exit and ended up driving who knows where before being able to turn around and go the other way. Once we got to Batavia, we drove around looking for some place to get some supper. We had not eaten a meal all day long, and it was early evening by this time.
Friday morning found us rested and ready for adventure. The night before, Heather made a list of a few places off the beaten path between where we might browse some antique shops. Our first stop, though, would be for coffee. And we just had to stop at a place that was mentioned on this blog back when Community Coffee began sponsoring us with freebies.
That place was “Tim Horton’s” coffee shop. Note to self: Never tell them you want cream with your coffee. That’s because they add it, and they put way too much for my liking. Okay, it may sound sad, but bad coffee has the potential to ruin the whole day. Yet, I was too shy (me?) to go back to the counter and ask them to give me another cup,straight black, so I could add a tiny bit of creamer myself. The line was too long, and I just didn’t want to fool with it. So, I can’t tell you how good the coffee was, because the amount of cream ruined it for me. Sorry.
Next stop after coffee? Niagara Falls in winter.
To be continued . . . Niagara Falls . . . .