Friday, February 29, 2008

Travel

Flying from Dublin to JFK airport we were concerned about our schedule; we only had an hour and a half to our connection to Las Vegas.

On landing we sprinted off the airplane and huddled around the baggage claim belt, coiled to pounce on our prey and drag it around the corner to the identification station. Spotting my pink suitcase we broke free of the pack and weaved through the crowds to the first baggage handler we laid eyes on. The pride we felt in being top of the pile soon wore off when he tutted at the tags on our cases and shoved us in the direction of Marcie and Brett, our Delta representatives.

Us: Hi. We're in a bit of a rush-
Marcie: Sure. *Avoids our eyes, taps at her keyboard*
Us: We already have our boarding passes.
Marcie: Actually your flight has been cancelled.
Us: Whaa?!
Marcie: You're now going to Las Vegas via Atlanta.
Brett: Here are your new suitcase tags.
Us: Just give us one minute please, thank you. How about another flight from here?
Marcie: *Taps furiously while a crowd gathers* They're all full.
Brett: Give me your bags and I'll retag 'em.
Us: If you don't mind we'd like to discuss our options first. How about another airline?
Marcie: *Eying the growling crowd behind us* You don't have the right class of ticket.
Brett: *Clutching tags, suddenly appears crouched beside our bags. Her hand freezes midair under our twin beams of frustration*
Us: We arrive after our seven hour journey to learn we have to take two more flights to arrive in Las Vegas at least four hours late. If you think for one second that you can get away with that without any offer of compensation -
Brett: *Stirs at our feet*
Us: And don't you dare touch our bags!!!

Eventually we became friends with Marcie, who booked us to first class. Apparently the flights from JFK were chockablock due to Presidents' Day weekend and that we should leave before the expected snow storm hit New York.

We weren't sitting together on our flight to Atlanta but I got chatting to my neighbour Jan, who was my age. That's where the similarities ended however; a native of the State of Georgia she was married with two children, lived in deepest darkest New York State, raised Baptist but was converting to Catholicism because her husband was Catholic and her children attended a Catholic school. And yes, she voted Republican. If someone would have told me before I left that I'd have the most fun I've ever had on a flight with someone with those paper credentials, I'd have snorted. And then snorted again with more feeling.

But I had a ball. As Jan and I drained the flight of white wine she entertained me with her quick, dry wit. She had met her husband at college and that they did not marry until she was pregnant with her second child. She was desperate to move her family to Brooklyn and raise them in the city, but she and her husband were saddled with massive student debt. When we talked about the upcoming election she couldn't understand why people voted Bush purely because he was anti-abortion. Surely there were more pressing issues to consider? And she shook her head at the idea that people would vote for a Republican each time around without considering the opposition, just because their family had always done so. How a more tolerant attitude was required towards people of all backgrounds, faiths and sexual orientation.

When we landed in Atlanta I told her I was glad to have met her, as she had exploded a prejudice that I was now ashamed to admit. It had been so easy to divide Americans into red and blue states, conservative and liberal attitudes, but like all stereotypes it was a load of hokum.

The second flight to Las Vegas wasn't as fun however. Our legs had swollen up like inner tubes and the stewardess seemed determined to punish us for some unknown slight. By the time we arrived in Las Vegas the accumulation of delays meant it was 11pm, so we just checked in and fell into bed.

Luckily the rest of the holiday sailed by without a hitch. (And Marcie was right about the snowstorm in New York!)

10 comments:

backpedalbrakes said...

Yikes! Hurrah for free plane booze in situations like that though :)

Yvonne said...

Caroline the free booze was just stunning, as was the food. I would have preferred the time back though, we were supposed to be in Las Vegas at 3pm - but what can you do!

JJ said...

Ooh, I so admire your assertiveness. I am so rubbish at that. I'm glad you had fun.
JJx

Alix said...

Well done for getting on the flight and the wine sounds good as does your new friend!
Looking forward to hearing what you did!

Yvonne said...

JJ, the assertiveness was borne of pure frustration from not being listened to - and seven hours cooped up in cattle class!

Alix, I'm planning on writing a "ten things to do in Las Vegas" post - hopefully I'll do it now!

laurie said...

so how long were you in the air??? man. and i think flights to dublin from minneapolis take forever... usually i just have to change planes once, in chicago.
that sounds rather nightmarish.

but you made lemonade out of lemons.

how was vegas? did you see my cousins? they live there.

Debs said...

You sound as it you dealt with all that delay nightmare very well. Jan sounds like great fun.

Yvonne said...

Laurie, we must have been in the air for about 16 hours - the flight to OZ was longer but we were prepared for it, if you know what I mean. I thought of your cousins while I was over there - more specifically your warning of sun protection - so I wore suntan lotion! Thanks!

Debs, it was a strange old day. The journey home was grand though.

HelenMH said...

Blimey - what a trial - but yes, free wine is the answer!

Betty the Sheep said...

Lovely post, its good when someone makes you rethink your ideas about thing or someone.