Monday, June 13, 2011

Hell: The Extended Director's Cut

At the airport all went to plan. Check in, go to gate, run around looking for last minute suveneirs (at this point let me ask "why don't Americans like tea towels?" and also lots of you are now not getting a pressie because there is bugger all to buy at JFK airport).

Disappointingly we are not upgraded but board nevertheless. Then we wait and wait and wait and wait....

You get the idea. Our plane is delayed by six hours because of thunder storms in the area. We spend most of that time on the plane apart from a brief time off for good behavior when we return to the terminal to refuel. So we spend five and a half hours on the plane before we even take off.

During our "break" at the terminal I ask the super friendly and helpful (ha!) lady at the desk about the fact we are going to miss our flight to Sydney. Without saying a word (like explaining our options or say, acknowledging my presence) she takes my boarding passes and prints out new boarding passes (or so I thought) for the same flight but 24 hours later.

So we finally fly into LAX at 2:00 am local time (that's 5:00 am NY time) very very very tired. No bags we troupe through an almost deserted airport into the cold night. United have offered not one comment or word of support or advice on what our options are. We are on our own and decide to stay the night at an airport hotel and decide what to do in the morning.

The first and only hotel shuttle bus which arrives is from the Marriott and we file on board hoping that they have a room available (you never know when there is a convention of second hand refrigerator spare parts salesmen). Luckily they do and I take a moment to thank the credit card gods who make these difficult life moments manageable and almost pleasant.

Fifteen minutes later we're in our warm, comfy room. Kids are asleep and I'm in bed trying to count my blessings and wondering about the next day and thinking that my nice plans to be home three days before we return to school and work have just been flushed down the loo.

In the morning we put on our dirty clothes (hate that) and go to breakfast. Love a hotel buffet breakfast and have decided I may have a mild addiction to crispy American bacon.

Our initial thought is to keep the room for that day and hang around but then Jay comes up with the idea of going to Universal Studios for the day. At first I thought it would be too much but I talk to the Concierge about it and find out we could leave our stuff there (all two plastic bags of it) and we would be picked up and returned just in time to get the shuttle to LAX. The cost would be only a little more than keeping the room for the day. So we book in an await our pick up bus.

Universal Studios is a really great day out. It's not full of scary rides, just one I think. Everything else is more laid back. There is the great tour (which we "only" had to wait 45 minutes to go on, lucky it was a quiet day) which takes you around the back lots and shows you some of the great old and new sets from movies (like Psycho) and tv shows (like Desperate Housewives). It finishes with an amazing 3D King Kong ride which isn't scary in a roller coaster way but is really fun.

We also loved The Simpsons virtual roller coaster - THE BEST, the Waterworld stunt show, the Animal Actors show and I loved the Ben and Jerry's Churros Ice Cream Sundae. [can you believe I've only put on half a kg during this trip?]

Anyway, it was lots of fun and we were happy and excited as we headed out to get our shuttle back to the hotel.

On the schedule I was given it said we would return to the hotel at 7:30 pm. Great, just enough time to get our stuff and get the airport shuttle in time to check in at 8:30 pm, two hours before our flight.

After we had been driving for about an hour and didn't seem to be getting anywhere near our hotel we asked the driver, a grumpy sort of guy who couldn't tell us who much longer it would be. A little while later we again explained we had to be at the airport at 8:30 and asked how much longer it would be. Again no sensible reply. It almost seemed he was determined to drop off everyone else except us.

You could say I was a little agitated by the time we arrived at the Marriott at 8:30. I believe my words were "thanks for nothing" as we got off the bus. There is a nasty email heading to VIP Tours, Los Angeles... which is a shame because we had such a great day.

At the airport we have some more fun and games, discovering we weren't actually checked in or have confirmed seats. There were a few stressful moments when we weren't sure if we had seats (it was a packed flight) and then if we would able to sit together.

All came together at the last minute and we were seated. Again our flight was delayed by one hour (no explanation given) but finally we were headed home.

Dinner and a good long uncomfortable snooze and then I was wide awake. Let me say that no amount of Matt Damon makes The Adjustment Bureau a film worth watching. On the other hand I was obviously tired and emotional when I shed tears at the end of Country Strong and surprisingly it wasn't because of Gwyneth Paltrow's singing. There are some good things about long haul flights and getting to watch the entire first series of Laid on my iPad was a real bonus. Love that show, great writing... but I do have a soft spot for anything involving market research... can't wait for season two.

So we arrived home on Sunday morning, just over 24 hours behind schedule. Our lovely friend M had stocked us up with food basics meaning I didn't have to head straight out for the shopping. We got stuck into unpacking and washing but lethargy soon caught up with me.

Getting into bed to watch the Swans vs Richmond game was a fatal mistake and I was fast asleep half way into the second quarter. I got up at 9:30 to find Jay asleep on the sofa and the kids in bed. Slept until 2:30 or so. Dozed a bit. Then the kids and Jay woke up and we've all been awake fully since about 4:30. Bum. Means we'll crash early again today.

Well that concludes our excellent New York adventure. Despite the rather shitty ending all's well that ends well and we had a wonderful time and are home safe and sound ... So who could ask for more.

Will load photos later today.

Normal transmission will return when I can be bothered.


Lynda said...

Love the blog! Glad you managed to survive American airports and the 'customer service' they offer!! (Insert sarcasm here!). And I too was saddened to discover almost NO souvenir Tea towels on my travels across the USA in march this year, although Canada seems to do a reasonable job of them!!!

Kath Lockett said...

That's a dreadful way to finish up such a brilliant holiday. I'm waiting for the day that they invent the 'coma flight' where we're all knocked out by a strong (and safe) hallucinogenic drug and stacked on shelves, that way being in a blissful world of our own and not hearing screaming kids, frustrated by delays or knowing how cramped we care........