After the jump, our resident Andy Rooney tells you about his day at the airport. Saturday, to be specific.
Rather than ranting about it, I’d just like to share with y’all the chronological specifics of what happened before, during and after me and my pregnant wife’s flight to Rome was cancelled for a wee-bit of snow.
It took a few calls before we managed to find a cab that would take us to the airport from East Falls on Saturday. But we found one, and we ended up arriving, 60 bucks later, at the International Terminal at roughly 2:45 p.m.
Since no skycaps were there, we spoke with someone at the counter who gleefully shared that, “No trans-Atlantic flights have been cancelled.” So, I ponied up $55 for my second bag, even though the website told me that each passenger was allowed to check a pair of bags in. Whatever, at least we were going to Rome to celebrate bride’s nursing-school graduation and my one-year mark of unexpected survival.
Ordering a burger, a Peroni and a water (womb-surrounded Hickey won’t be subjected to thee old alcohol for at least 15 years), we kept checking the gate sign that said “On time,” even as other flights were cancelled. Don’t worry, gate hag told us, Rome’s still a go.
Then, 5:30 p.m. arrived, 55 minutes prior to lift-off. USAir.com told my Blackberry that the flight was cancelled. The gate sign disagreed. So did the employees, who kept saying our flight’s on. This was good news for my friend Mark, who was taking his wife to meet the pope. Well, five minutes later, a red “Cancelled” flashed up on the board.
No, no, no, flight’s not cancelled, gatekeepers still maintained.
Just give me the [word-in-head redacted] little business card with the 888 number to rebook a flight.
Bride called the number, everybody else called the number, including some scary German folks who thought A-20 was the Munich gate, so-on-and-so-forth, earliest we could leave was mid-week.
Are you [word-in-head redacted] kidding me? No.
Fine. We’ll take it. (Good thing I bought some microwavable White Castle burgers and Jalapeno chips to have when we returned home.)
Meanwhile, the gate “people” now confirm that flight is cancelled. Go from Terminal A to Terminal B baggage claim to retrieve your luggage on turnstile G. Fine, we walk (and wheel) roughly three-quarters mile to Thunderdome, where hundreds wait in line to speak with baggage personnel who say, condensed, “Your bags will be here. We don’t know when. We appreciate your patience. Sorry.”
After a few half-hour intervals pass, the announcements don’t change, so I ask an airport worker in a douchey thrift-store-reject suit jacket when the bags from Rome will be arriving since they weren’t put on a plane at any point. He told me to listen to the announcement like a good boy. I tell him I [word-in-head redacted] did and it neither mentioned Rome nor makes the least bit of sense. Rather than responding, he scurried off like a dimwitted Carney, making people get up from their seats to make room for bags that’d never arrive. I must’ve hurt his little fontanel.
The second hour passes.
And at 9:45 p.m. the announcement arrives that no bags will be arriving tonight. It’s our policy to keep them and send them to a European city that you won’t be going to before we can return them to you. This makes perfect sense to me.
In any event, we file a claim and get in the hundred-strong taxi line. About halftime of the Cowboys/Saints game, which is showing on a mounted flat-screen. I see the remainder of said game – which the [word-in-head redacted] Cowboys fittingly win – while moving up about 15 feet.
Saturday turns to a Sunday that we should’ve been at the Vatican for a pre-Xmas tour. We land in a cab at 12:45 a.m. We get home around 1:30 a.m.
So, in review: Get to the airport at 2:45.
Told flight cancelled three hours later.
Wait for bags until Hour Seven.
Get home during Hour 11. (The flight would’ve taken 8.5 hours.)
Wake up to shovel two [word-in-head redacted] feet of snow.
The moral of the story: Yes, the weather is to blame for the flight cancellation, but I should have known better than to think that anybody at Philly International has a modicum of sense and courtesy. Why would I expect them to help make the process go with even a wee-bit of dignity, considering the employees practically spat in the faces of those who’d been forced to cancel holiday vacations?
Ok, that’s a little harsh. But, they did physically throw the bags that were returned at the huddled masses. And they did master the “Whoa, don’t blame me for all this” approach to customer service.
Since we were only losing four days of a two-week tour (won’t see Rome and Florence now), and others lost a whole trip, I shouldn’t really complain.
So in the spirit of spreading holiday joy, allow me to sing, Merry f’ing Christmas to you and yours, USAir. You’re all true American heroes. Especially guy in douchebag jacket at baggage claim, who (I presume the Pope would have announced) is the reason why the Christ Child was born in a Bethlehem manger.
– Brian Hickey