My holiday, which began yesterday, has not started well. The last of the last-minute pre-departure things on my list was to bring in the wooden rocking bench that usually sits on my front porch. I have to bring it in because it could be a danger in the event of a hurricane while we are away. So I remove the cushion on the rocker, and reveal … a whole lot of bugs. It’s termite swarming season in Florida, and I have a sick suspicion I know what these are. So I call the bug people, and … they’re closed for July 4. But I’m not taking that in the house.
But it gets worse.
We were scheduled to leave Miami on American airlines on a flight to Boston with a tight but tolerable connection to a flight to Manchester, UK.
A few minutes after the Miami flight was due to start boarding, the gate staff announced that there was an air traffic hold in Boston and that we’d be so late there was no point boarding. Probably very late. There, I thought, went the connection. But a minute later they countermanded that and said we should board after all — the pilot had accepted an alternate route.
So we boarded, pushed back a little late, the pilot came on and said that the new route would delay us about 20 minutes, we’d be 40 minutes late in all. That meant a sprint in the airport, but it was do-able. And we did it.
We boarded the second flight, taxied out to the runway….and the pilot came on to say there was a problem with the temperature sensor on the engine, and we’d have to go back for repairs. So we limped back to the gate. And waited for the ground crew. Then waited for them to report.
And after an hour or so, they did: we weren’t going anywhere. So we all exited into the terminal. By now it was well after 9pm, so Boston airport was basically closed. There were no open concessions. There were no more flights out of Boston to anywhere. There were only a few gate staff there to rebook and hotel us all. And I’m traveling with two tired (but so far well-behaved) kids.
By about 11pm I had made it to the head of the line. And I’d started only about a third of the way into it. I’d had the sense to book new seats by phone, so I’d gotten three of the last seats on July 5th’s flight to Manchester — 24 hours later. We got our hotel vouchers, $45 in meals which were supposed to feed three people for three meals. And we went to claim our luggage, which had been offloaded from the plane.
Two of our bags were there. One was not. No explanation as to why. No one authorized to go hunting for the missing bag (mine, not the kids). So after a dispiriting search and queuing for surly baggage service — did you know only supervisors are empowered to give you a toothbrush? — we made it to the airport hotel around midnight. Only be told they only had smoking rooms.
The kids’ room wasn’t that bad. Mine smelled like the inside of a cigar. I didn’t sleep much, and I’m still having nasal flashbacks.
The next morning we go back to the airport to hunt for the missing bag. In due course — without setting any land speed records — the day crew admits they might have an idea where in the bowels of the airport it is hiding, and go off to find it. And they do. So now I have to take this bag back to the hotel to join its brethren, and then the kids and I can play tourist in Boston for half a day.
Which we do, and which isn’t bad, but would be a lot more fun if any of us had any energy, or if the kids didn’t feel they were losing a day with their grandparents. The kids are being great, but it can’t be easy for them. I did manage to contact the bug company, and they’re going to survey us for termite infestations. They did say that even if there are termites on the bench, those guys won’t move to the house any time soon, as they’ll have plenty to eat. I guess that’s reassuring, in a way.
And now I’m back at the Boston airport, posting this, ready to try again. The folks at check-in assure me it’s a different plane, so maybe we’ll actually get there this time. If I don’t post for a while, that’s a sign we made it.