Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[travel] New York, New York

What a day. Flight from Portland to Dallas was simple enough, with a first class upgrade to ease my tired body and mind from jet lag. I also had grabbed a first class seat to New York, but when I arrived in Dallas, I found my flight had been cancelled.

Several phone calls and a failed attempt to standby later, and I was on a flight about four hours behind my original schedule, which was to be here in time for dinner. Problem is, the seat I got assigned was the one by the lavs in the very back, for which I had lost a first class seat, and had no shot at my usual exit row. Meanwhile, emails to my colleague already in Manhattan and to my department admin generate several calls to the hotel to confirm my late arrival.

Then when it's time to board that flight, we're told we're on a ground hold from air traffic control in New York. Because it's a ground hold, they board us anyway, then go hot rodding around the DFW taxiways for 20 minutes or so before grinding to a halt and waiting for the queue to free up. We'd been advised 40-70 minutes, but they made out a little under 40. More emails ensue concerning later arrival, more phone calls made on my behalf.

Sitting next to a flight attendant on the plane deadheading back from my same cancelled flight, she tells me it was cancelled due to traffic issues in New York. The dead hand of the City has already reached out to freeze my soul, I realize.

We finally get to LGA about an hour behind this flight's schedule, which puts me five hours behind my original schedule. All the airport concessions are closed due to the late hour, so I can't even grab a sandwich. Downstairs in baggage, the English skills of the American Airlines baggage agent are so poor that she can't understand what I'm trying to ask about my luggage arriving on an earlier flight. (Think about that, putting someone in that job who can't understand that kind of question.) She kept pointing to a row of suitcases where my luggage wasn't, then told me to wait for this flight's luggage to appear.

It finally does, not on the carousel marked for it. I walk over there, and presto, another row of old luggage, including mine, which has been waiting for me the whole time I've been following the baggage agent's instructions to wait for the luggage from my late flight.

I go out to the taxi stand, which was designed by an optimist who thought perhaps two people would need a taxi from La Guardia at any time. Forty people in line, forty cabs waiting for them, and it still takes fifteen minutes to get a cab because they can't get in to the freaking stand to pick up passengers. Driver doesn't know where my hotel is, I call for information. Hotel welcomes me to New York, tells me to come on over. Off we go into the madness that is the FDR.

On arriving at the hotel, I am told very apologetically that they have no room for me. They are oversold, and had not been notified of my late arrival. To my certain knowledge, they'd been notified at least five times, starting around noon, but none of the phone calls which ended with "no problem" included anyone making a note in my reservation.

I have a fit. (This is rare for me, I am generally very nice to people in the service industry, who are almost never at fault for whatever idiocy is in play, and even if they are, having a fit doesn't help much.) I apologize for my fit. I am given a top floor suite at another hotel four blocks away at a "very discounted rate." I am given $10 for cab fare. I am given a cab.

Mirable dictu, the new place has a room for me. It is a suite on the 36th floor. Once I get in, I discover the bathroom door is locked and will not unlock, necessitating a call to Engineering. I discover there is no wireless, so I can't sprawl in bed with my laptop, but at least the Ethernet works. I discover room service will send up goat cheese ravioli and an apple-pear-avocado salad with blue cheese.

Basically, a one-day trip to New York has turned into far more hassle than a full ten days of roaming around the breadth of China. On the other hand, I have goat cheese ravioli in a very tall suite. And I have been reading this book on the Beguin heresy in fourteenth century Languedoc, because sometimes one ought to read way outside one's habitual zone.

Originally published at jlake.com.

Tags: books, china, food, funny, new york, personal, travel, work

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