Because I know everyone loves a good airline story from yours truly – and I’ve got lot so ’em – here’s what happened to me Tuesday, July 22 as I attempted to leave for San Diego, California on a 6:40pm direct flight from JFK Airport in NYC. I was flying JetBlue.
Let’s preface this by saying that the weather forecast for July 17-22 was rain. July 17, 18, 19, 20, & 21 came and went without rain at all. In fact, it was quite humid and sunny all week. So naturally, the one day that I need to fly out somewhere, it’s going to rain.
So I’m already freaking out that morning when it starts to rain. It stops, I hear it’s supposed to pass early. Still way worried and being totally neurotic (more so than usual) the entire day because I know that something is going to happen, because something ALWAYS happens to me when I fly. On the way to JFK, my mom finally actually snaps at me me to shut up because she’s had enough. But I know what’s what, so whatev.
I arrive at JFK at 5pm for my 6:40pm flight, so I’m already early. Go through security with my first ever problem – my watch set off the metal detector, which is strange since I always have it on and it’s never been a problem before. I’m assuming this means that either 1) JetBlue’s sensors are very sensitive or 2) Delta’s metal detectors are just for show. I’m going to assume option 2. A security guard was kinda a douche to me, but it was the end of the day & I was too nervous at what could possibly go wrong, so I didn’t take offense.
I get through security and I’ve still got a full hour before takeoff, so I get a beer and bust out my broken laptop and my turkey sandwich & try to relax. So far, everything is on time except for the flights to Raleigh-Durham, actually. Ah, irony. This man approaches me and asks if I’ll do him a favor and watch his 3 & 6-year old daughters while he goes to buy water and crap. I know I don’t look dangerous or anything, but I was a stranger and I did have an alcoholic beverage in my hand. But he was from the Northwest, so maybe they’re more trusting out there or something. They begin to board my plane EARLY. Yes, EARLY! Daddy Northwest isn’t back yet, so I start to get a little nervous after the 3rd boarding call about 8 minutes after the first. I pack the girls up to go look for their dad, but he comes back at last. So I run over to my gate and we’re boarded early for an early departure.
They tell us to turn off our cell phones/portable electronic devices and play the video on what to do should we encounter a problem in-air, blah blah blah. I say my goodbyes to my parents, to Jay, Jana, etc., letting them all know that I’m on my way and it’s early! This was around 6:30ish. I fall asleep and wake up at 7:20pm because an announcement is being made. I look outside (no matter what, I’m still little kid enough to always want a window seat) and we’re still at the gate. The announcement says that we’re going to be indefinitely delayed here, so we can feel free to use the restroom or turn on our cell phones again. As soon as this is said, it starts pouring outside. Naturally, I burst into tears. I call my parents, Jay & Jana and all three of them answer with the EXACT phrase, “Why are you calling me?” All I’m thinking/self-pitying/crying is, “Why is this happening to me AGAIN?! THIS ISN’T EVEN DELTA!!!” So I’m pretty much a mess at that point. My parents are spouting this annoying, “It’s all in your positive attitude, that’s what will stop the delay – positive thoughts!” bullshit that makes me hang up on them. Jay & everyone on his end (Jack, Rob & Bev) are cracking jokes that’s I’m NOT in the mood to joke about yet, but at least Jana, James, & John were sympathetic. It was awful. I was convinced beyond doubt that the flight was going to get canceled anyway because that’s my luck. Though we’ve driven towards the runway, the pilot tells us that he’s turning the plane off since all departures are closed & only planes that are low on fuel can arrive.
Finally, after an hour of waiting (so 2 hours after we were supposed to leave), the rain clears out and we start to move again. No announcements were made yet, but at least we’re doing something. James is keeping me informed through a JFK radio tower feed on what’s going on throughout this entire delay, so at least I’ve got some idea of what’s up. About 15 minutes go by and then we stop again. Pilot gets on the P.A. and goes, “Well folks, we’re #8 in line for take off, but it seems that a plane has landed on the departure runway and has malfunctioned. We don’t know how long it will take someone to take it off the runway, but until then, all departures have been shut down again.“
Not gonna lie, I started freaking out again. My phone was dying, so I couldn’t text or use it for calls as much. After a teary phone call to Jay about how now I’m going to have to go through this alooooooone (insert breaking voice & sobs), my phone dies. I continue to feel sorry for myself. I don’t even have any shame at this point, because I hate my flying experiences this much.
I actually like flying. Contrary to popular beliefs, I don’t hate airports at all. I hate airlines themselves and I particularly hate the lack of respect given to customers and the terrible customer service. Before I go on, I just wanted to clear that up.
My phone died around 9:20pm. We were only delayed this second time by an additional 45 minutes, so “luckily” we took off at 9:30pm. Because at this point, we had been delayed almost 3 hours, word was that we were going to soon have an issue with fuel. We saved a little in that hour that we shut the plane off, at least. Which leads me to a question: Why don’t more planes do that? If you’re going to blame your dying industry on fuel costs & not your complete lack of respect for your customers, why aren’t more planes shut off to avoid wasting gas? ANYWAYS, we ended up making a 5:45 minute flight in just five hours (our pilot was BOOKING) and I stared at the the JetBlue personal TV screen the entire time – keeping it on the channel that shows you where you are flying over. Obsessive? Yes. But it made me feel more like I had some sort of control.
However, there was one great thing about the flight. Our flight attendants were awesome. They were all under age 30 and I got not 1, not 2, but THREE free little Vodka shooters with some tonic. Let me tell you, that’s one way to calm down after a stressful evening. Also put me to sleep for a good hour and a half. I can’t blame JetBlue for this issue at all. I slightly blame JFK for not being better organized – taking 45 minutes to get a plane off a runway? No one even went out there for the first like 25 minutes. I was on the opposite side of the plane, but those who were on the other side could see what was going on. Mainly, I just blame my terrible, terrible luck.
But at least JetBlue gave me $15 worth of free liquor.