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The Joys of Flying in 2008!

The post below comes to you essentially UNEDITED, as it appeared in my own inbox this morning.

Knowing my youger brother, Lane,  as well as I do only heightened my interest and “smile factor”. You will see in his writing an astute sense for detail, as well as a grasp of the absurd. He is normally a man of VERY few words, but I know his brain is always spinning in there. This story is proof positive.

I did NOT have the “pleasure” of travelling to Bermuda for this RPM gig, myself, but I feel tired just reading his account of the journey! Enjoy :-)

Lance

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I don’t have a [personal] blog but if I did this is what it would say:

    We had an RPM gig in Bermuda this past weekend. Jerry Riggs and I were booked on a US Airways flight out of Orlando on Friday morning at 8:50 AM, scheduled to land in Charlotte, NC at 10:29AM. There we would meet up with Barry and Jimi and get on a flight at 11:25 AM which would arrive in Bermuda at 3:02 PM. Then we would spend the rest of the day hanging out with the rest of the guys at the beach before we had a nice dinner and then a little party with our client, AIG.

The Beach in BermudaOur Bermuda Hotel
 

 

 

 

 

That’s what was supposed to happen. Here’s what really happened: 

     I got to the airport at 7:20 AM. The line for check-in wasn’t very long so I was anticipating having plenty of time to get my customary bagel with cream cheese and coffee. 

    WRONG!!! I stood in the same place for 15 minutes before the line started moving. I still don’t know why. By the time I finished checking in it was after 8:00. Then I had to go through security and after that was done I just barely had enough time to get a bagel and a bottle of water before I headed to the gate, where I met up with Jerry and scarfed down my breakfast before boarding the plane.  

   Once we were all seated, 8:50 came and went. The pilot came on the air and said there was a problem with the computer that he thought would be fixed by now but it wasn’t so he would have to shut everything down and try to reboot it. In the meantime the flight attendants were taking people off the plane who had no chance of making their connecting flights. We still had a shot at making ours. By the time the problem was fixed it was 10:15 before we took off. There was no way we would make it to Charlotte in time, but we were told that there were a total of 16 people on our flight who were going to Bermuda so there was a chance they would hold the plane for us if we weren’t too late.

    WRONG AGAIN!!!  We touched down at 11:45, only about 15 minutes late, but they didn’t hold the plane, even though they knew it was the last flight out for the day. So Jerry and I proceeded to find the nearest US Airways ticket counter, where we told Val our problem. She managed to get us on a 1:10 PM flight to JFK that would arrive at 3:00 PM. Then we would get on an American Airlines flight at 5:20 PM which would get us to Bermuda at 8:45 that same night. Once again, …

    WRONG!!! We went back through security and had just enough time to get some food to take with us on the plane when we realized we didn’t have assigned seats. By the time we got on the plane all the overhead space was full so we decided that Jerry would gate check his guitar and I would do the same with my carry-on bag. Our seats were in the back of the plane so we had to work our way back up to the front, past all of the people in the aisle. When we got there we told the flight attendant what we wanted to do. He said that was fine for Jerry’s guitar but my bag would have to go to baggage claim when we landed. After some back and forth and some bs about FAA regulations I just said OK. He asked me what my final destination was, and since we were changing airlines and I had over 2 hours to claim my bag and I wanted to carry it with me to Bermuda, I told him JFK was my final destination. So we took off from Charlotte and headed for JFK. It seemed like everything would be OK.

    WRONG AGAIN!!!  At approximately 2:30 a flight attendant came on the air and said she had some bad news. There were some really bad thunderstorms in the JFK area so we had been in a holding pattern for a long time now and we were running low on fuel. So they diverted us to Philadelphia, where we landed at about 3:00, which was when we were supposed to be landing at JFK.

    It took a while to refuel and we still didn’t know when we could take off because there was still bad weather happening. Now I was wondering how I was going to be able to claim my bag at JFK in time to make our connection if we landed there in time. I talked to the flight attendant and he told me to talk to a gate agent here in Philadelphia and see if they could help me.

    So I went back up to the front, actually got off the plane and stood in the runway for about 10 minutes before I finally saw somebody. Do I even need to tell you what the result was? So I resigned myself to the fact that, if we did make our connection, I would leave my bag there and have them send it to me the next day.

    Well, I didn’t have to worry. After we finally taxied out to the runway to wait our turn for takeoff we could see planes coming in one after another to land on the very runway that we needed. It was like watching the end of Die Hard 2 except that there was no fire to guide them down. Finally, we got on the runway and were starting to pick up speed to take off when some idiot across the aisle decided that would be the perfect time for him to get up and get something out of the overhead compartment. Both the flight attendant and the pilot yelled at him to sit down immediately and luckily we were able to take off, because they told us later that if we had to abort it would have been another 4 hours before we could leave.

    Anyway, we got to JFK at 6:00 or so, but not before we went through the worst turbulence I have ever experienced. Needless to say, we missed our connection AGAIN!!!  So we went to the US Airways ticket counter to find a way to get where we were going.

    At first we got a young woman who was obviously pretty new because she had no idea what to do. Fortunately, Nancy came over and took over and got us taken care of. She got us on a flight at 7:25AM the next morning. Then she told us to be at the airport by 5 AM if we wanted to make that flight.

    So then we told her we needed some rooms for the night. First she said she couldn’t help us because it was a weather issue but we pointed out that it was a mechanical problem in Orlando that started everything. So she called her supervisor, who told her there was no report about the problem with the Orlando flight (what a surprise!), and then she told her to call somebody else. By this time we had been there at least an hour so Nancy decided she would just get us some rooms.

    WRONG AGAIN!!!  She called the first hotel and they told her they were completely full. Same with the next one and the one after that and the same with every hotel on her list. I had been on the phone throughout the day with C-Lo, our intrepid travel agent, who was helping us navigate through the entire situation, so she started working on finding us a room somewhere close by. So we thanked Nancy for her help and went to find our bags.

    On our way to the baggage carousel we passed by the US Airways baggage office and there was my bag. We went in and Julia greeted us and we explained our situation to her. She told us not to worry about our checked luggage because that was already scheduled to be on the first flight out the next day, which was the same flight we would be on. But that meant that Jerry didn’t have anything for the night so she went in the back and came out with 2 bags of toiletries for us. Then she asked if she could do anything else for us and I half-jokingly asked her if she could get us a room somewhere. She got right on her own personal laptop and started searching. Meanwhile, C-Lo called back and said she could get us a room at the nearby Hilton and they had free 24-hour shuttle service, so we said goodbye to Julia, hopped on the Air Train, caught the shuttle and made it to the hotel.

    After a nice dinner (which included several Capt. Morgan & Cokes for each of us) it was time for bed. It was only 9:30 PM but it felt like 3 in the morning. Since we had to leave the hotel at 4:30 AM I set my alarm for 3:45 so I could take a shower.

    I got up, got in the tub and turned on the water. Then I realized that there was no way to switch it to the shower position. I looked all over that bathroom for some kind of switch but there was none to be found. So I just kneeled down and stuck my head under the faucet so I could wash my hair and get myself semi-clean.

    The rest of the day went pretty smoothly. There was a long line at check-in but we were there in plenty of time so that wasn’t a problem. However, Jerry got stuck in the extra-special security line so it took him a while to make it through. But we still had time to eat breakfast in a leisurely fashion before we boarded the plane. We got to Bermuda, got through customs, were met by our driver and we got to the hotel a little after noon. Sound check was pushed back from 2:00 to 3:00 so we had time to get lunch and relax a little bit.

Mike Malfesi subbing for Charlie Morgan

    As for the actual show, that went great. Everybody had a real good time. Our drummer for this gig was Mike Malfesi, who is usually our sound man. But Charlie had a bicycle accident and broke his arm about 10 days before the gig so Mike stepped in and did a great job. Everybody in the band was suitably impressed and the audience was none the wiser.

    After the gig we relaxed and had some food and a few drinks and Joe Lynn regaled a few of the guests with some of his many tales.

    The next day Jerry and I were the last ones to leave the hotel. We got our ride to the airport and ran into a lot of the guests who told us how much they enjoyed the show. We got on board our flight to Philadelphia and right before we left the Captain came on the air and said they had a maintenance issue but it was all taken care of and we would be leaving shortly. Jerry and I just looked at each other and shook our heads.

    We managed to make it to Philadelphia and after a 20 minute walk from the A terminal to the C terminal we still had time to get some Philly Cheese Steaks. We got on board for our 6:15 PM flight to Orlando, scheduled to arrive at 8:56 PM. Well, while they were still loading the luggage onto the plane there was some lightning in the area so they had to stop until it passed. After a little while they came back and finished and we were good to go.

    So they started towing the plane out away from the gate. Then the tow bar broke, so we had to wait until they got another one. They finally towed us out and we headed towards the runway, but the weather was still bad so we had no idea when we could take off. Finally, at about 8:30 we were in the air. We were almost home. Nothing else could go wrong, right?

    WRONG ONCE MORE!!!  We touched down at 10:25. Now, Orlando Airport is notoriously slow when it comes to their baggage handlers. The bags for our flight didn’t even start to come out until after 11:00. The only problem was that OUR BAGS WERE NOT THERE!!!  So we headed over to the baggage office and filed our reports and they told us they would deliver them to us some time in the morning, which they did.

     So much for my relaxing weekend in Bermuda. Some day I will look back at this and laugh but I don’t think it will be any time soon.

      Lane Hoppen

The view from Lane's hotel room ... not too shabby!

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Lance, The Road, August 11, 2008, 7:03 PM

2 Responses to “The Joys of Flying in 2008!”

  1. BarbaraM Says:

    What an experience … arggh!!! Makes ya not wanna get on a plane ever again, but I hope you’ll recover soon. You really should start a blog, Lane, you’re a great story-teller. Thanks for sharing and Lance for posting. Barbara

  2. bglerner Says:

    They don’t call it Useless Air for nothing! Been flying (sitting around in airports is more like it) with them for years. But you have to look on the bright side. Every airline story you hear gets more and more bizarre. I thought I had ’em topped when I was frisked by overly friendly security agent and half my clothes taken from my checked bag but yours definitely tops them all!
    And you should have your own blog. Thanks for the laughs.
    bgl