Our travel odyssey begins, but will we ever leave PHL?
09/01/2019 - 09/01/2019
Our Niche Touring literature listed our trip dates as September 1st through the 13th. Since air was not included as part of our tour, I assumed that we needed to be in Croatia, ready to begin touring on the first day of September. Wrong. The first day of the trip was considered to be our travel date. Whoops...well, we figured, there are worse things than an extra day in Croatia, right? We were about to find out.
So, here is what happened...
Yesterday, we left the house at 2:15 PM, and had cleared TSA at Philadelphia International by 3:30 PM, 2 hours and 20 minutes before our scheduled takeoff (I know my kids are sniggering, but we are all about mitigating travel stress). We arrived back at 154 Laurie Lane this morning at 2:20 AM. WHAT? Grab a glass of wine, here is the story.
Our AMERICAN AIRLINES plane was loaded and ready to go 20 minutes before scheduled takeoff. The captain, in his upbeat voice, welcomed us, but mentioned that some paperwork needed to be completed and, "as soon as it's done", we should be ready for an on time departure. After about 30 minutes, that same upbeat voice announced that there was a "just a little problem" with the backup computer that is used to issue alerts to the pilot, and we can't leave without a backup. It seems that the part to fix this has to come from the warehouse (Amazon.com?) and the captain doesn't know how long it should take, but he didn't think it would be too long. It was too long. The next 'glitch,' the captain noted, (now in an increasingly therapeutic voice) was that while the part had arrived, the software was old and had to be reloaded. (The software probably matched the drop down screens for entertainment and lack of charging stations for the devices you would need to entertain yourselves.) Again, no idea of departure time. Meanwhile, every 20 minutes. AA.com alerted my cellphone that we were delayed another 20 minutes (as if we did not know). After three hours of sitting on the plane (they did give us water and you were allowed to use the restroom or even deplane if you wanted, although they were very clear that they would leave without you), the software was still being loaded. (Charlie thinks that they were typing in the code and not downloading it). At the three hour mark, we were all forced to leave the plane while they continued to load the software. We took this as a bad sign and, at this point, we knew we had missed our connecting flights. In the terminal, they had drinks (non-alcoholic...seriously?), hoagies, and snacks for us. A veritable AA party. Then, we sat at the gate for ANOTHER three hours before they finally cancelled the flight at 12:15 AM. UGH. At this point, I was so tired that I actually believed that I could sleep on the flight...
So, now there are many TIRED people with questions and problems (and a fair number of them do not speak English). The first apologetic announcement is that there are no hotel rooms in Philadelphia (sold out for Made in America festival), so hotel vouchers will be for places far afield. Like maybe King Of Prussia, but there is a mall there. Where do we find our checked luggage? NO PROBLEM, says the gate agent (who has been reminding us every 15 minutes that she is not responsible for the delay), just go down to baggage claim and pick up your luggage. Of course, that means that we have left the secure airport and cannot re-enter. When we got there, we were informed that luggage will NOT be unloaded but instead sent on to its final destination. The only question now is... will we be reunited with our luggage in Split? By the way, the baggage office man did thank me for not yelling at him and gave me two toiletry packs. So, there's that.
For the next hour, while sitting in the baggage claim area in those OH-SO-COMFORTABLE plastic seats, listening to loud (but mercifully decent) music, Charlie was on the phone for over an hour with American Airlines to arrange for our PLAN B flights. Amazingly, they were very helpful and were able to arrange a one stop flight: Philadelphia - Frankfurt - Split that leaves Sunday, 9/2 at 5:40 PM. As I write this, we have already received a notice that the plane is delayed 20 minutes.
We are starting to board at 6:00PM. Wish us luck.
No Photos today.