The Longest Day

The longest day is one that lasts more than 24 hours.  Though last year I was on more airplanes than in any previous year I do not remember not having made it to wherever I intended to be. Last night I could not get home.

I awoke yesterday in Allentown, PA. We were with our client from 8:30 -1:30 and then drove back to the local airport in a steady snow. It had also been snowing in Chicago so I knew that delays were certain. There was only one flight that night from Allentown, PA. back to Chicago and the plane we were to be on was coming from Chicago. By the time we arrived at the airport our flight showed a scheduled delay of  2 hours. As a seasoned traveller I was certain it would not leave that night and if planes did not get in there would be none leaving in the morning. Since we had already eaten at the “best” restaurant in town we immediately thought “Road Trip!”.

The choices were Philly or Newark. I pulled for Philly because if I ended up staying over I knew that I could share good times and  an excellent meal with the friends I have in town. My colleague, who controlled the rental car, on the advice of those at United Airlines, voted for Newark and I could not persuade him otherwise. So Newark, NJ here we come.

Two hours in the car. Wait-listed on a flight scheduled to leave in an hour from the time we checked in. Flight delayed another hour within moments of settling into the airport lounge. More waiting by the gate as the departure time gets pushed further and further back. I have fairly high status on United after my travels last year. One level above my colleague. I get a middle seat but at least I am on. He does not get on that plane.

In the perverse world of flying in winter, he is better off. The later flight that he was to be on got canceled 20 minutes before mine. By rescheduling immediately he was booked on a flight out of the same airport the next morning. By the time I got off the plane the best I could get was a noon flight out of LaGuardia which is 32 miles, several bridges and tunnels away. In the perverse world of flying in winter I was happy to get that since for the 5 minutes before being confirmed I was told I could not leave until Thursday.

My colleague claimed that he had gotten two rooms at a Newark airport hotel. I meet him at the luggage carousel. (BTW I had had to check my bag in order to get on the plane that ended up not going to Chicago because the carry-on bins were full.) More waiting. While waiting I asked how he had been lucky enough to snag rooms since hundreds of people were now stranded. If you have been bored up until now reading about someone else’s minor travel problems I think you will be rewarded by reading this next part.

Colleague Boy, as he will be known from now on, had spoken neither to our corporate travel service or to the hotel’s reservations service. This 30 year consulting veteran who has travelled and lived internationally got frustrated waiting for the hotel to answer the phone. He was however able to reach the guy that runs the hotel shuttle. Raoul told Colleague Boy that he would call the hotel desk and give them our two names so that they would hold the rooms. No credit card number exchanged. No confirmation number. But we had Raoul’s word. Colleague Boy waited over 45 minutes to share this with me. Here we are hoping my luggage will show, hundreds of people all around us frantically booking rooms and all I have is Raoul.

I tell Colleague Boy to call the hotel while I call our notoriously poor corporate travel service. He gets through first. Surprisingly they are not holding rooms for us. Fortunately they have two rooms available.

Much more waiting. First for the shuttle to the hotel and then standing in a long line once there. It is 10 pm before I am in my room and 11 before food arrives.

This morning consisted of more moving around. More waiting. But I made it home. A long day.

The Longest Day is also a movie about D-Day. One notable aspect of this 1962 film is that all characters speak in their native languages with sub-titles provides for those not fluent in French or German.

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About 48facets
What you read is what you get.

5 Responses to The Longest Day

  1. PeachFlambe says:

    Next time come to Philly. Plenty of room here – a third floor suite all to yourself, kitchen privileges, free wireless…and always room for a weary traveler.

    Ah, the glamorous world of business travel.

  2. pax romano says:

    One time I found myself snowed in at Logan in Boston. A flight delay of almost four hours before I could get back to Philly.

    I sat in a bar and got to talking to some other weary travelers who came up with a great idea.

    An hour later, the three of us (me and the two other weary travelers) were in a cab heading to the train station.

    Five hours later we were back in Philly.

    We found out later, that the flight out of Boston was eventually canceled!

    That train ride was a blast! There might have been twenty people on the entire train, but we made up for it by buying liquor in the dinning car.

    We played cards, laughed, got tipsy and made it home in one piece.

  3. 48facets says:

    Peach, that is quite an offer. I wish I had been able to talk Colleague Boy into going to Philly.

    Pax, the beauty of much of the east coast is having trains as a travel option. Not many train choices going back to Chicago. I had heard a rumor about the Amtarck deficit being temporarily paid up by one large bar bill. Now I know it to be true.

  4. Frank says:

    Man, what an adventure. We were pulling for you to come to Philly, but I thought that was a long shot. It really was bad here…lots of ice.

    Glad you got home safely. I don’t like traveling in bad weather, so I’m always a fan of staying over. Years ago in Chicago I made a deal with myself…if my plane needed de-icing I wouldn’t go. I still have that plan. It’s irrational, I know, but it’s how I run.

    And like Pax, says, I like trains. LOL about the bar bill btw.

  5. 48facets says:

    I was 90% certain that I was going nowhere Tuesday night. Philly was my first, second and third choice.

    If I avoided every plane leaving Chicago that needed de-icing I would go nowhere for 4-5 months.

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