I’d love to take credit for some sort of brilliant trick or negotiating skill I used with one of the half dozen agents I worked with today trying to get out of New York City to Las Vegas. I wish I had a special trick up my sleeve or a special code word I could share that explains how I actually got on the plane and got the plane out of the snow at Newark today. I don’t. I do have a lovely first class seat on the one 757-300 that Continental Airlines got off the ground this morning that was actually headed to Vegas and I’ll admit that it was mostly luck that got me here.
I’m actually on the same flight I was originally booked on when I woke up this morning. The flight was canceled at least once – maybe twice – and reinstated with customers being moved around and reassigned flights somewhat haphazardly from what I could tell. A few of the times I called in to ask about alternate routings I was apparently already assigned seats back on this flight. The folks at the airport couldn’t really tell me if the flight was going to happen or not; there was mostly just confusion as the various different computer systems were spitting out different data to people.
When I left the Presidents Club the second time two friends were in the midst of a very creative rebooking that the agent seemed to be quite keen on, more more helpful than the three I spoke with that denied much less creative or expensive reroutes earlier in the day. Such is life, I suppose, though the inconsistency in the application of the rules is certainly frustrating.
One smart move Continental made was to not waste all the food that their Chelsea Kitchens division had produced the night before expecting to serve on the flights today. Rather than trash it since most of the flights were cancelled they packed it all up and brought it over to the terminal, setting up a snack bar near the Customer Service station in the terminal. Definitely a classy move, even if a limited choice of options.
But I was leaving the club because my flight was boarding, so I didn’t mind all that much, even if it was 5+ hours after the original departure time. It was only around the tenth flight that Continental managed to get off the ground at all today so the fact that it happened to be the one headed to the place I was going was pretty much blind luck. Oh, and then there were the hundred or so other lucky souls who managed to get a seat on the flight from the standby list. I’ve never seen the list of cleared standby passengers quite so long and I don’t think we left anyone behind at the airport.
First up, deicing, with the nifty trucks that they use at Newark. The guy in the cherry-picker cab actually drives the truck via controls up there. Saves needing an extra guy in the truck and it is pretty cool too.
Thanks to the fact that there were basically no other planes flying we had a quick taxi out to runway 4L and a great view as we made the final turn to depart. I really look forward to this view every time I get on an airplane.
And then it was time for the meal service. Sure, it was 3:15 in the afternoon at this point, but the flight was originally scheduled for a 9am departure. That means it is catered as a breakfast flight. So it was Honey Nut Cheerios or Omelets for everyone. Ten hours after I woke up and three hours after I had lunch I was finally having breakfast. Not that I mind too much; I love Cheerios. But it was entertaining and the flight attendant was laughing at the fact that she was taking breakfast orders in the middle of the afternoon.
A nap and a fresh baked chocolate-chip cookie somewhere over the Rockies and we’re getting ready to start our descent into Vegas now.
I hope the other guys trying to get out from NYC had less trouble with their flights than I did. Most were taking afternoon or evening flights so I’m somewhat optimistic – not overly so, but a bit.
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