Boomeresque:Definition
1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Getting There — Eventually

by Suzanne Fluhr on May 8, 2012 · 15 comments

My suitcase visited Barcelona several years before I had the pleasure.  Unfortunately, on that particular occasion, it was supposed to be in Malaga with me.  On a trip to New Zealand and Australia which included 11 flights, (11 take-offs and (mercifully) 11 landings), we were reunited with our suitcases after every flight…until the very last leg of our journey when we arrived back in our home town of Philadelphia and stood next to the baggage carousel with that sinking feeling that grows more intense as one’s fellow passengers claim their bags and depart until you, and only you, are standing there watching a single bedraggled bag — that isn’t yours — go round and round.  The silver lining is that if you are going to be separated from your belongings, the best time for that to happen is when you can go home to your extra underwear and the airline can find you easily if your belongings should happen to show up from their secret journey to who knows where.

However, despite the general heightened angst and inconvenience associated with air travel since 9/11, we’ve managed to get from here to there relatively smoothly — until this past weekend while traveling home to Philly from a visit to family in Chicago.  Given its ranking as the world’s third busiest airport, knowing that one is going to be flying into or out of ORD, the code designation for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, is enough to make even seasoned travelers queasy.

Our first inkling of trouble was the darkening sky (at noon) as we returned our rental car and boarded the shuttle to our airport terminal.  By the time we walked in and looked up on the departures board, our flight to Philadelphia had been cancelled — as was the next flight.  With flights flying mostly full these days, this did not bode well.  We were inching our way toward the counter on the ever lengthening re-booking line when my cell phone rang.  It was a recording from our airline, American, informing me that our flight was cancelled — duh — and suggesting that if I was still intent on getting to Philadelphia, I could say “agent”.

Much to my utter amazement, while others in my party were on terminal hold with the airline, saying “agent’ was like summoning a genie.  I was instantly speaking to a real live person — who appeared to be actually somewhere in the United States — offering to help.  However, the best she could do was to offer us seats on a plane leaving at 6:15 p.m. — the following day — 28 hours later.  I plaintively asked if she could re-book us on another carrier, but she said that since our delay was caused by weather, she could not do this.  Summoning my most persuasive Boomer, Esq (lawyer) skills, I pointed out that despite the weather, American had a bunch of other flights that were still departing on or close to schedule.  I wish she were the judge for all my cases, because she said she would try.  She even asked for my phone number in case we were disconnected.  After twenty minutes of increasing despair on hold, she was back on the line, telling me she had seats on a Delta flight to Minneapolis at 4:30 p.m. with a connecting flight leaving for Philadelphia at 6:15 p.m.  Impressive.

I Hate It When This Happens

We hightailed it over to the Delta terminal and after a series of discussions between the Delta and American customer service people, we left with boarding passes for our two flights.  We arrived at our gate and joined a bunch of unhappy people waiting for delayed flights to various places.  Uh oh. Gazing out at the lightning strikes visible from the large terminal windows, we were not  feeling optimistic and so were not surprised that each time we looked at the departures board, our flight to Minneapolis was further delayed until it became obvious that it would be impossible in our earthly time-matter continuum for us to make our connecting flight to Philly.  With an amazingly short amount of “on hold” time, I reached a Delta agent and we were re-booked on a flight leaving at 7:10 a.m. the following day from Minneapolis to Philadelphia.  Thanks to a smart phone and TripAdvisor (always useful to weed out roach motels), I booked us rooms at the Fairfield Inn close to the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport and the Mall of America.

I admit to a pathetic knowledge of Midwest geography, so I was a little surprised to realize that we were flying further west, away from Philadelphia to get to Minneapolis.  We arrived at 8:00 P.M. and opted for dinner at the airport food court–yuck–before summoning the hotel shuttle.

I’d like to be able to tell you more about the hotel and its environs, but we arrived in the dark and left in the dark at 5:00 a.m. for the airport the next morning.  I do know that our room was quiet in spite of being next to the elevator—either that, or I slept the sleep of the exhausted.  However, the  two rooms we needed added $240 to the cost of our trip.  As a card-carrying Baby Boomer, I am just too old to be sleeping on the airport floor.

The next morning dawned clear.  After another totally gross meal at the airport food court, we boarded our flight to Philadelphia.  An hour and fifty-0ne minutes after wheels up, we came in for a silky smooth landing at Philadelphia International Airport.  With no checked baggage, we were home to be greeted by a very happy dog within half an hour.

There’s a moral to this story:

Sometimes, you have to go the wrong way to end up where you want to go.

Scroll down to the Comment section below and share one of your transportation adventures or tell us about the time you went somewhere unexpected to end up where you wanted to be.  Metaphors are welcome!

 

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Roz Warren May 9, 2012 at 2:11 am

Makes me glad I’m taking Amtrak instead of flying this weekend.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne (Just One Boomer) May 10, 2012 at 12:57 am

Happy trails. I enjoy train rides, but until we invest in upgrading the rails in the Northeast Corridor, our trains are kinda slow. The Acela is a joke—a whole lot more money for 10 minutes faster on the Philly to NYC route.

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avatar Andrea May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

As one Suzanne’s fellow stranded travelers that day, I have to commend her on keeping her post so free of vulgarities. I didn’t have a problem, at first, hanging out in O’Hare. Ben (Suzanne’s son and my soon-to-be hubby) and I found a nice bar to cozy into for a beer and to catch the tail-end of the 76ers vs. Bulls playoff game. Once the DirecTv cut off from the storms, I realized this wasn’t going to be a picnic. Having been my first time experiencing multiple delays and an eventual overnight in a random city, I have to continue to thank Suzanne and Steve for taking control of the situation (and the hotel bills and the flights..). Minneapolis folk are a friendly bunch (judging by the 2.5 people we encountered along the way) and I’m sad we didn’t get to experience the Mall of America, but I’m ecstatic that Minneapolis weather is friendlier than Chicago weather and got me back on the ground in PHL in time to make it into the office by noon! Thank you again S & S for *everything* – great post about the experience!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer May 14, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Thanks for the thanks, Andrea. I’d like to be able to reply “Any time”, but I’m actually rather hoping that our next travels together go more smoothly, so I’ll just say, “You’re welcome.”

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avatar Jeremy May 16, 2012 at 1:29 am

That’s why you stay for a couple days and enjoy where your at!

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer May 16, 2012 at 3:40 am

I think you missed the point of this one. We were on our way home and had to go there only to get here. However, I still have my RV fantasy where we get in an RV and drive around the country stopping wherever and staying there ’til whenever.

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avatar Lauren May 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

That sounds really stressful! I’m so glad you made it home to blog another day. 🙂

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avatar ANGLO/Dale July 16, 2012 at 8:05 am

It seems I’m going to have to consider myself lucky that, being from the UK, there’s never much need to fly anywhere. The Isles are so close together you can take a train or ferry to pretty much anywhere.

Guess that’s all going to change with us setting off, erm, now 🙂

Can’t imagine the frustration that must come with lost luggage. Praying that I won’t have to meet those feelings any time soon.

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Suzanne Fluhr Just One Boomer July 16, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I hope we have the chance to welcome you and la italiana in the USA sometime—just keep your baggage to a size you can carry on 🙂

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avatar Tom Bartel April 28, 2013 at 10:13 am

So, the cliches are true? People from the east don’t know that Minneapolis is west of Philly? Or that there is anything west of Philly? Well at least I hope you left some money at the Mall of America.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 28, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Tom, it’s totally embarrassing, but not as embarrassing as not knowing that Minneapolis is west of Philadelphia. I didn’t know that Minneapolis was west of Chicago — bad enough—for a travel blogger, no less. I still don’t count Minneapolis as a city I’ve visited. We basically spent 6 hours asleep at a motel across from the Mall of America between 11:00 PM and 5:30 AM.

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avatar Joan April 28, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Everytime, I hear stories or think about the times that I am stranded at an airport due to weather etc, I think about how ill prepared airports & airlines are to handle these issues. Afterall, weather problems area totally unforeseen events for which there is no opportunity to be prepared. If hospitals were run like airports, I assume that there would be a congressional investigation.
Every airport should have at least one concession stand on every concourse that is open 24 hours. Additionally there should be one store that sells a package of 2-3 disposable underwear, toothbrush, and other sundry items that is also open 24 hours. Blankets and cots for senior citizens should also be available.
But then – airports/airlines are too interested in making money to plan ahead for customer needs.
Thanks for listening.

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Suzanne Fluhr Suzanne Fluhr April 28, 2013 at 6:38 pm

I think most major airports in the U.S. do have contingency plans for weather and other types of emergencies when a significant number of people will be stranded — i.e. they distribute cots. But, these are usually activated when the airport is literally closed down for an extended period. It would be nice if the airlines would do better. They could start by providing regular updates to passengers when their flights are delayed or canceled. Now that flights fly full, when a flight is cancelled, there is a real problem in getting passengers onto subsequent flights which are also already full. Still, I’m not ready to give up flying to far away places—so I imagine I’ll continue to have travel experiences (um, bad trips) to blog about — the silver lining.

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