A long flight

May 2006

Here I am writing from my cousin's apartment in the West Village, N.Y. Longest flight ever. Short version: cancelled flight, delays at every point of the trip, and lost luggage. Welcome to the America :D

The long story: The direct leg from Osaka to Chicago wasn't too bad, but it went all crazy from there. After being digitally finger printed and having our photos taken at immigration, we went to the domestic transit counter only to be told that our 6:00 pm flight from Chicago to LaGuardia had been cancelled due to bad weather! We were to wait for the next available flight at 7:00 pm, but when we got to the other gate, we were told to see customer service instead.

The name Customer Service Counter is probably a joke on their end. Normally you think of several people helping out customers with their problems, not a couple of staff directing you to a series of phone booths to wait for a customer service agent to call you! It's a bit jarring if you're used to the level of service at domestic Japanese airlines; it's times like these you realise the effect of all this cost cutting.

The process itself is not difficult if you can speak english, but my fellow Japanese travelers would have found it really difficult to go through the whole process of being on stand-by and dealing with the process over a phone.

Our customer service agent told us we were not on stand-by on the next flight as we were previously told, but the 6:00 am flight the next morning. I don't think so! Luckily, she gave us the option to use another airline, and we were booked on their next available flight.

Just our luck, the flight was to leave in 30 minutes. We made a mad dash from Terminal 1 to Terminal 3 only to find out this flight was late by over one hour. After 30 minutes of waiting our gate then changed. When the flight got to New York, we were put into a holding pattern for 30 minutes and then when we landed we waited another 30 minutes to be towed into the gate. At this point were about 2 hours late.

Next was picking up our luggage. Only problem was, it wasn't there. In baggage claim, they were very nice about it all, and promised to deliver it to us the next day. On a whim, we decided to check our original airline. Apparently, they thought we were still on their flight at 7:00 pm and our bags popped out on conveyer belt just minutes after. *sigh*

We waited in line at the taxi stand and met a very nice woman from Connecticut who was, funnily enough, off to meet some Australian friends at the Marriot. After some small chat, she told us about some unscrupulous people who offered you the opportunity to skip the taxi line and use their service instead. What they don't tell you before hand is that it will cost $90 to get where you are going instead of the usual $25! Right on cue, they came and bugged us for a while before looking for the next group that looked like tourists.

After a 20 minute ride we got to my cousin's place safe, if a little tired, at 1:30 am in the morning, 3 hours late.

Today, we are heading off to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Too rainy to do anything else (I'm a rain man, but that's for another blog entry) but I've really been looking forward to checking it out, staring out things to buy at their online shop the past few weeks :D