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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

THE FLIGHTS FROM HELL!

We've just returned from the flights from Hell! Except for the return flight from Kansas City which is
reminiscent of my golf game--just as I am ready to smash every club in my bag, I finish the last hole nicely and decide I have enough potential to come back. Here’s my story; everything I put forth here is absolutely true.

Rob and I were booked on JetBlue out of Newark for Cancun. TSA pre, so no long security lines. Not the most convenient flight possible, a one-stop and relatively lengthy layover, but ok.

If you've ever been to Cancun airport, you know it's an offshoot of Britain's Bedlam prison, but no problem. It’s busy because this is the resort crowd landing and everyone and everything is heading for the sun--including Rob's luggage.  Only one problem; we arrived in Cancun; Rob’s luggage went to Montego Bay, Jamaica!

An hour and a half later, after locating the proper airport personnel since JetBlue has no representative in
Cancun airport, we’ve filled out the forms and are promised that the runaway luggage will be on the first flight
to New York’s Kennedy Airport in the morning and then on to Cancun. ETA: Tomorrow afternoon.

By the time we make it out of customs, our driver has left and we are stranded at the airport. Amid pre-trip
warnings from every travel source available including our resort to not take unregistered airport transportation, we are a bit bewildered. Then an angel from Marriott approaches us. He sees our transportation voucher, recognizes it and knows our driver who coincidentally lives in his neighborhood. He phones him and our guy is back in a few minutes. Whew.  He’s actually stationed at the airport and calls for our car and we are whisked off to Temptation Spa and Resort.

Thank goodness for those light-weight zip-off travel pants that Rob is wearing. Unzip the legs and he’s in light-weight shorts which he will have to wear until the next day.  Zip on the legs and he is all right for dinner. 
Meanwhile I unpack and discover my luggage is severely damaged. A zipper is ripped and shredded, but in all the tumult at the airport, I did not notice the protruding twisted wires and did not report it.  Not to worry,
JetBlue’s disclaimer clearly exonerates the company from all responsibility, and I will have to find a repair shop when I get home.  But mishaps occur.  We can roll with the punches, but now is the time for a welcome drink and a little relaxation and enjoyment. 

Rob’s luggage arrives late the next afternoon, and as always, our stay at Temptation is lovely…

Until it was time to check in online for our return flights.  Rob checks in with no problem, but I am not allowed. I am told I have to report to the JetBlue counter at the airport.  ???????????????  Remember, I am TSA pre√.

We leave the hotel in plenty of time, and the driver drops us at the terminal and leaves--the wrong terminal. This one appears to cater to flights within the Spanish speaking world, and we need to get to the flights heading elsewhere.  I am able to converse in Spanish a bit, but my hearing is not good enough to understand the responses, and Rob doesn't speak Spanish at all.  It’s like a Laurel and Hardy movie as we try to decide on the next step. 

Looking obviously bewildered, we are approached by several men offering taxi services, but we remember those travel warnings.  There’s a sign for a shuttle to other terminals, so we get on line and wait and wait and wait.  Then another angel appears (remember the Marriott guy?).  He’s a van driver from Hertz, and he offers us a ride in his van.  This we gratefully accept, and within ten minutes or so I am in front of the JetBlue check-in counter trying to find out what the problem is.

She checks me in promptly, but when I ask why I, a TSA pre √, flier had to check in at the counter, she shows me a series of SSSSS on my ticket.  She says I was “chosen at random.”  So much for Homeland Security.  Prior to flying they check me out, decide I’m safe enough to fly without taking off my shoes, etc., and now they are going to check me out again while who-knows-who gets on the flight with who-knows-what.  What a waste!!!  What inefficiency.

But I had no idea of how I would now be checked.  Rob sails through quickly, and I am throroughly wanded and x-rayed.  My hands are swiped.  My tablet is swiped.  They go through my carry on literally piece by piece.  I finally made it to the gate, but while Rob is allowed to board, I am again pulled aside and totally wanded and my hands are again swiped—now in front of all my fellow passengers who must wonder what kind of suspicious criminal is flying with them!  But, hey, I’ve never felt any governmental agency runs efficiently, so why should the hapless TSA be any different.

Eventually we are settled on the plane, but bad weather in New Jersey delays our departure.  We finally taxi to the runway when the Captain tells us there is a computer problem in the left engine and we have to return to the gate so it can be repaired—maybe.  We sit on board, and more than an hour later the computer is fixed and we taxi out and take off. 

We arrive in Newark at 2:30AM, two hours late!  We first begin luggage and customs.

We have reservations to stay at Wyndham Gardens Hotel where our car is parked, the trunk full of winter
clothes because we have an 11AM flight out to Kansas City, Missouri for our daughter-in-law’s graduation from Command and General Staff College and also for her Master’s Degree. 

We check in, go to out to bring in the clothing so we can switch suitcases, and then we head to the Business
Center to check in our United flight.

We finally connect with United only to learn that our non-stop, three-hour flight has been CANCELLED, and we are rebooked on a one-stop, seven hour flight that leaves later in the day and will get us to Kansas City in the evening.  BUT we have the option of finding another flight, which we do—a one-stop (in Chicago), five-hour flight that requires our taking the 7:30 AM hotel shuttle back to Newark Airport.  Total sleep time = 1.25 hours.

When we get to the airport we make sure to arrange for ground transportation for us in Chicago’s bustling, huge airport.  Rob’s knee will just not make the long walk to our second flight.  No problem says the woman at the desk as she puts through our request.

We arrive in Chicago, get on the golf cart, and the driver tells us he doesn’t have us on his list and we have to get off.  No way, we tell him, and although he threatens calling security, when we tell him to go right ahead, he calls, instead, for another golf cart; we switch, and we are driven to the second gate, a long ride plus an elevator ride. 

We board this plane, fall asleep, and wake up in Kansas City, in a wonderful, compact, easily negotiable airport, find our rental car, find our hotel is only minutes away and no more than ten minutes from Jen’s apartment. 

On the ground, this second leg of our Cancun/Kansas City trip begins, and it is totally delightful.  TOTALLY!  BTW, our trip home was very nice.  We had our non-stop to from KC to Newark, and took a taxi to the Wyndham, tossed our luggage in the car, and it wasn’t long before we were sitting in that familiar diner on Rt. 17 eating Chef Salads.

Flying has become a torture.  I rather drive an entire day than go through the trouble of a flight.  How do you

feel about this?
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