Because the only thing more terrifying than velociraptors are velociraptors that can fly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

JFK is a Terrible Airport (and other news from my trip)

Hello hello, my internet chums!

I realize it's been a while since last I updated, but I do have a good excuse: I was out of the country, specifically, Ireland. And it was a grand ole time, let me tell you.

Actually, let me first tell you of the hellish time I had getting back before we move on to a description of my trip and news of Professor Jack Baling's next adventure.

So my flight back to the US of A from Dublin was no biggie. Flight was on time, we arrived a little earlier than I expected, cool beans. My final destination was Raleigh, North Carolina because that's where my folks live now. Originally, when I booked my ticket, I got one to Atlanta (by way of JFK) because I wasn't sure where we'd be living by the time I got back. When I found out it was Raleigh, I inquired  about changing the second leg of my return trip (JFK to Raleigh rather than JFK to Atlanta) but discovered it'd cost like $250, when I could just buy another plane ticket from Atlanta to Raleigh for a hundred dollars less, which I did. (That ended up being a mistake.)

Back to JFK: I arrive, get to my gate, no worries. Then I see that my plane has been delayed by two hours. I was a bit worried originally that I'd miss this connection as I had to take a shuttle over from the international terminal to this one, but this delay meant I had time to kill. Unfortunately, if I got into Atlanta at 8:15 and my flight to Raleigh was leaving at 8:30, that was a problem. But I had a solution!

I called the Delta helpline and the friendly gent there got me hooked up on a flight straight to Raleigh from JFK. Wonderful! The day before I left I'd been worried that I might have to get to Atlanta, get my bag from the carousel, check it again, go back through security and get to my gate, because of my separate reservations, but when I went to Dublin the lady there said she could send it straight through to Raleigh. Why go to Atlanta if I didn't need to? (I found out later that doing so would have allowed me to miss the oncoming stormfront, but then I found out there was a fire in one of their terminals, so that could have been bad too.)

Filled with good cheer, I headed to my new gate, got my new boarding pass, and waited for my plane. It was four something at that point and my flight was scheduled to leave at 6:35. I saw that we'd been delayed by a half hour, but I wasn't worried. I had my kindle and my iPod, so no problem. Then I saw Emily, a friend from Carlow and another resident of North Carolina, and found out she was on my flight as well. By that time, out flight had been delayed to 8 o'clock, but the clouds outside were getting awfully dark, and getting closer...

Then Emily informed me that our flight had been canceled, which has never happened to me before, so I had to figure out what I was going to do. Calling the helpline I discovered that all flights to Raleigh from JFK, La Guardia or Newark were already booked up for that day and the next, so I’d have to leave on Sunday (this was on a Friday). Finding that unacceptable, I turned to Emily who’d been able to book a flight to Charlotte for the next evening. Since that was at least the right state, I checked with my folks to see if they could pick me up form my new destination, but by the time I called to get myself on that flight, it too was all booked up.

Faced with being stuck in New York for two nights, my dad (a veteran traveler) gave me a plan: book my flight for Sunday morning, then go to a hotel for the night, return to the airport with Emily the following day and do my best to get on any stand-by list available. Then, if I struck out completely, I still had that flight on Sunday.

So I did, splitting a car with Emily to a nice Sheraton in Brooklyn. The next morning I checked my phone to see that I could check in for my flight the following day, but it wouldn’t let me, saying there was some kind of error. When I checked on a hotel computer I saw that one of the eight Delta people I’d spoken to on the phone the day before hadn’t been able to figure out that despite what my ticket said, Atlanta was NOT my final destination. Thus, I was scheduled to leave JFK at 6:15 for Atlanta on Sunday, as well as leave JFK for Raleigh at 8:30. The computer, knowing that the previously-described situation was just silly, refused to let me do that.

So I called the helpline. Again. They fixed me up, and not only that, I was able to get myself on a flight leaving direct to Raleigh that evening (after sitting on hold for like fifteen minutes).

My day at the airport was spent ensconced in a comfy chair within sight of my gate, right next to the bathrooms, water fountains and a bank of power outlets for my various gadgets, so it was fairly comfortable, all things considered, but I was tired and just wanted to be home.

When I finally boarded my little plane (we had to gate check our bigger carry on and the German flight attendant lady moved us around for weight distribution) and we got into the air, I let out a sigh of relief. My double plus ungood trip home was finally over.

In comparison, my time in Ireland was friggin’ sweet. I saw about every touristy thing in Dublin before school started, and then we went to a bunch of stuff as a group, including several plays, a literary pub crawl, and a book festival. Good times.

As far as Jack Baling is concerned, I am working on getting his next episode edited, but I’m not sure it’ll be ready by the end of the month. (Leaving the country upset my writing schedule a bit more than I anticipated.) Thus, I’m thinking the new publication date for the Chronicles will be on the 15th of each month. I’ll keep you informed if anything changes, though.

As always, thanks for reading.