Tickets to fly to Buffalo for Christmas were very expensive. So we decided to wait. February, that seems like a good time to travel. Round trip tickets were under $500/person, so I bought them. Red eye flight from Portland to Newark, and then a commuter flight from Newark to Buffalo at 9 am the next morning.
Then, because the prospect of a red eye flight is never appealing, I upgraded those tickets to first class, by cashing in some frequent flyer miles and paying an extra $75/ticket. Maybe sleep would be more possible in first class than in coach? I was hoping.
Our flight was due to leave at 11:04 PM, and I was monitoring the flight status from my phone when I went curling at 6 PM, planning to zip home at 8:00 after curling, change clothes, and drive to the airport. Time enough for a beer at the Rogue Brewery restaurant in PDX airport before getting on the flight.
But there was a winter storm on the east coast, and our plane had yet to LEAVE Newark when I got to the curling club. After a series of delays, the plane was rescheduled to arrive in Newark after our commuter flight to Buffalo was scheduled to take off, so I left curling with the plan to spend some time on the phone with the airline rather than leave immediately for PDX to catch our (now) 1:45 AM flight.
I called United and explained the situation, and Patricia (the nice representative) said the only Newark to Buffalo flight she could fit us on left at 5-something PM, giving us a 10-hour layover in Newark airport. I thought that did not sound like fun. So Patricia rescheduled us on a different airline, Delta, leaving at 6 am the next morning and connecting through JFK instead of Newark. That sounds great, I said, and she gave me a new confirmation code for Delta.
Great! I opened the Delta website to check in, and input the confirmation code. The PDX to JFK flight was cancelled. Yikes! I called United back on my cell phone, but the recording told me the wait time to talk to a person was 20 minutes. I left the line open and grabbed our land-line phone to call Delta, where I talked to a person much faster.
The young man at Delta was also very helpful, though his information told him it was the JFK to Buffalo flight that was cancelled, probably due to the record snowfall in Buffalo at the time. Most snowfall recorded on February 16th in Buffalo, not a record in general. [note – my mom reported winter aconite coming up in her garden just a couple days earlier.] So he was trying to find us a new flight. In the meantime I was still on the Delta website, but I was maddeningly unable to click on any buttons, including the “select alternate flight” button. I did not realize that my cell phone was pressing the Control key at the corner of my keyboard. Agh!
Suddenly, the Delta rep’s information changed. He asked me if I did something, and I hadn’t. We were magically rebooked (and checked in) without him or me doing anything. Now we had a 6:05 AM flight from PDX to Seattle, a three-hour layover, a flight from Seattle to Atlanta, another 3-hour layover, and a flight from Atlanta to Buffalo, arriving at 11:04 PM in Buffalo, only about 24 hours from my first phone call to United and only about 12 hours later than our original plans. AND, because I had upgraded that PDX to Newark flight…we would be going first class all the way!
OK, so instead of gearing up to drive to the airport, we had to sleep with plans to wake up in time to drive to the airport at a little before 4 AM. Fine. I had a glass of port and went to bed.
We got ourselves to the airport the next morning, got a caffeinated beverage each, were seated on our first flight in good order, and requested orange juice. Comfy seats, pillow and blanket, free beverages! And we sat there as everyone boarded, and we taxied away from the gate…and then we taxied back to the gate, because there was a mechanical issue and couldn’t take off. Sigh. Well, it wasn’t too bad, since we had the long layover in Seattle, and the mechanic switched a backup system into place and we took off with only an hour’s delay.
We enjoyed a big breakfast in Sea-Tac airport, then took the tram to terminal S to await our next leg. I explored the bookstore, and laughed about the woman complaining that neither of the only two brands of water sold in the bookstore was spring water.
Our flight to Atlanta was on a large plane, with the kind of first class seats that have buttons to raise the leg rest to flat and a little reading light, and a personal entertainment screen. Swanky. We were served a calzone lunch with salad and dessert and cheese, and I used the entertainment system to listen to the Broadway cast recording of Hamilton. I raised my footrest, leaned back, and relaxed. Then the flight attendant stopped by to explain that the hand-washing water in the first class bathrooms had flooded the front galley, and he was putting bottled water in the bathrooms for hand washing. Huh.
On arrival in Atlanta, we heard an announcement to be very careful exiting the plane, as they had to exit us THROUGH the front galley, and it was very slippery. As we got up and waited to exit, we could see that they had used some sort of absorbent powder on the floor to help sop up the water. This powder what what had made the floor slippery. Our flight attendant was dressed in paper booties and a plastic smock over his uniform. The pilot came out of the cockpit and asked about the mess. We overheard the conversation in which someone worried that it was unsafe for passengers to exit the plane. Happily, that argument was denied and we were allowed to exit, while being told to be very careful!
We arrived in Atlanta’s terminal E, but our next flight took off from terminal B, so we walked through the underground tunnel to get some exercise and checked out the eateries available because I wanted a beer. We settled in TGI Friday’s for beer and a snack, and wandered to our gate, B16. Which didn’t have our plane at it. We’d been moved to the far end of terminal B, no problem, we went there, and everything seemed on schedule and fine. We boarded and settled down, expecting everything to be fine.
Which everything was. All fine. We landed half an hour early in Buffalo and taxied across the snow-covered pavement to our gate. Well, the jetway was stuck and would not move. They tried, but the jetway would not budge. Eventually, they decided to tow the plane to a different gate. Yay! Then the towing pin on the plane-towing-cart broke and had to be replaced. A full hour after landing, we finally exited the plane, and found my parents as they were about to leave the airport thinking they had missed us. Whew.
I don’t know how late we stayed up after getting home, talking and drinking mint tea or bourbon, but we slept until after 10 am Eastern time this morning. And it is snowing.