I took the Metro to Lambert, looking smart in my dressed up nonrev attire, and checked in. The gate agent, Jennifer, with whom I became good friends, told me the bad news: there was no way I was getting into MKE (Milwaukee) on my first try. In this volatile industry where things change down to the last minute, I persevered. Two people, who had personally checked in with a customer service agent, were not on board at boarding time: Jennifer made several calls in the gate area, and asked a man who was sitting near the door. She asked, “Are you going to Milwaukee?” He said, “No, I’m going to Cleveland.” Which, on his ticket, was true. However, this dimwit, non-traveler, was connecting through Milwaukee. She raised her voice and said, “THIS IS YOUR FLIGHT.” He goofily laughed and made his way to the gate— one olive short of a martini, that fellow. This is why Jennifer and I got along; we are both pleasant and down to earth until one has proven to be idiotic. The other passenger was nowhere to be found. I stood at the counter, waiting for her to print my boarding pass. Their policy is to wait 10 minutes past the door closing time, at which point the passenger is considered a no-show. I had two minutes left before it was considered fair game. He. Showed. Up. And if he weren’t a fine looking gentleman, I would have pulled out the claws.
Jennifer and I collaborated. She said that LGA was completely booked from Milwaukee, and might I try flying into Newark? Jersey. For the love of Gaga. Jersey? People live cabs in Jersey. I called Terrence, who was to pick me up at La Guardia, and asked him if it would be an inconvenience. It would be, but he would do it. I researched other options and decided to take the train instead. It wasn’t my choice, but I had to get to New York. There I was, on the next flight to Milwaukee and staying overnight to catch the first flight to Newark.
|Outskirts of Chicago|
I checked the weather, which can either help or hinder nonrevvers. Thunderstorms were clogging up the entire New York metro area, but my flight, which I would miss, was only delayed 10 minutes. I mentally prepared to assume the position on hard airport benches in stiff clothes, and I watched Chicago pass by as we descended into Milwaukee.
As soon as I could get cell service in the air, I checked the status of my original flight into LGA— it was still delayed in MKE.
I hustled up the stairs after deplaning to find the gate; it was right across from my arrival. I ran to the desk, asking if I could get on. The snippy CSA said, “No. Doors are closed. Paperwork is done. This flight is over.” I asked, in a matter-of-fact tone, “So, there are still seats open?” Of course there were. I had been checking all day; they hadn’t sold out and had at least 20 seats left. She replied, “Well. Yes. But this flight is done.” I stared in disbelief, groaned, and griped, “You’re telling me that this plane is sitting here with open seats? I REALLY need to get to New York.” Slash I didn’t want to spend the night in the airport OR end up in Jersey. The other CSA standing at the desk among ramp personnel gave Miss Snip the classic and perfectly executed bitchPLEASE look and turned to me. She smiled and asked, “What’s your last name?”
The rampers became disgruntled because they had to add one more person and bag to the flight and reflect it in paperwork. The kicker: we sat at the gate fifteen minutes after I boarded, and sat on the taxiway for another 45 minutes before departing, not to mention another hour on the ground in LGA. I didn’t care. I was in New York City. Thank you, thunderstorms.
|Captain in Times Square? That’s me.
I constantly check the weather, but even more so when I travel. As previously seen, it can have very very positive effects on nonrev travel, or very very detrimental effects. Hurricane Irene was forecast to impact the New York area just after my scheduled Saturday departure. I gave it slight thought and imagined that I would get out just in time. I was walking on 33rd when my mom called; she was very concerned about the storm and told me about the warnings the airport authority was publishing and that many paying passengers were trying to get out of New York— Frontier waived the fee to change one’s flight to an earlier date. That’s when I knew it was serious. I wanted to leave on Friday, but she insisted that I leave the next day, Thursday. I got back to Brooklyn, checked on the flights, and my only way of getting home was through Kansas City— all flights to Milwaukee or Denver were booked. I only noticed this about two hours before departure. My plan was to take a MKE or DEN flight, and take the train to the airport, which takes about an hour. Instead, I called a car and was off to LGA. I said my goodbyes to my lovely hosts, Leah and Paul, and started the long day of flying.
|Bye bye, rainy New York. Your weather matched my mood.|
|My (sudden) last day in NYC— View of the Upper West Side.|
I had to rebook my flight, since I was not scheduled in the system until Saturday. After a refund fee, I was on my way to Kansas City. I arrived in a city only five hours from STL, yet I still had to fly to Denver to get home. The first Denver flight was full, so I ended up taking the next flight; I was to sleep in Denver. Checking all the options, this was the only one I had. I considered ending my travels in Kansas City (by the way, the most poorly designed airport I have ever seen), and having family pick me up. But I wanted to get back to St. Louis and prepare for school. Side note: the only reason I left New York right away was because school started on Monday. Otherwise, assuming my hosts didn’t mind, I would have ridden out the storm, even if nonrev travel was backed up for three or four days.
So I sat in Kansas City, exhausted, bitter, and emotionally drained, and anticipating a sleepless night in Denver. There was a flight heading back to NYC. It took every ounce of strength not to get back on it. After takeoff, I was out like a lightbulb. I awoke when the wheels touched down in Denver. Our flight attendants notified us that we were about 15 minutes early— early? I checked my phone. The flight to STL hadn’t departed yet, and I had about five minutes from the originally scheduled arrival time and that flight’s departure time. I RAN to the gate, the CSA’s cheering, “He’s here! He’s here!” They must have checked the standby list— my boarding pass was ready to go, I grabbed it, and thanked them from the bottom of my heart. Namaste, girls; I was going home.
An industry based on precision, anything can happen in less than a minute. I slept in my bed that night, thanking Gaga and the nonrev gods. Someone must have sacrificed a virgin somewhere.