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Scene 1: Arrival and brunch:|
We landed in low ceilings and a steady rain. We were parked about 50 yards from the building and the normally-present umbrellas were nowhere to be seen. We got wet. After locating our departing gate, we went to Revive 21 in the F terminal for brunch. Lew had Watchdog Riesling (12) and I had a double Pinnacle Bloody Mary (13.25). Lew enjoyed a Chicken Panini (9.50) and I had a drippy Cubango (13) which I got on my shirt (figures!)
Scene 2: AA4056:
From brunch, we headed for Gate F-27, noting the steady rain. Air Wisconsin 4251 from Syracuse was late arriving, so we were late boarding. We finally pushed back from the gate at 1317, 25 minutes late. As we taxied out, it became apparent that we were wandering the airport. I'm usually aware of our location on the field and decided that we were taxiing down the middle of runway 9L. At 1335, the captain announced that all routes to CHS were closed and we'd been given a ground hold (again) until the weather in the Carolinas cleared. We shut down the engines and were granted permission to re-activate our cell phones. At 1407 I canceled our dinner reservation at Hall's Chophouse and spoke to the Mears driver waiting for us at CHS about our delay. At 1540, I learned, through the flight attendant, that the American Airlines PHL dispatcher had just learned we were still on the ground. The Captain then informed us that the routes were opening, but the new route to CHS was 200 miles longer and we didn't have the fuel for that. We returned to Gate F-1 for refueling.
Scene 3: Canceled:
Upon our arrival at F-1, we were invited to de-plane and stretch our legs. Minutes later, several passengers noted, through the window, that our bags were being removed from the aircraft. Minutes later, the gate agent announced the flight had been canceled and we were all invited to report to American Airlines Customer Service at gate F36. It was noted that there were no open seats to CHS until Sunday (The Boat sails on Saturday). Even though we had been told we had a new route and would depart after refueling, I speculate that our flight crew had reached their regulated endurance and there was no back-up flight crew.
Scene 4: The long tired line:
With multiple flight cancelations throughout the South-East, hundreds of passengers were in the line for customer service. Four guys from our flight were trying to get to Charleston for a wedding; one was the groom. Another couple from England were trying to get to the Masters' Golf Tournament. Another had theatre tickets in NYC. By the time we got to the head of the line, about 1800, all avenues to the cruise were gone, so we elected to return to Salisbury and quit the whole process. The remaining SBY flight, late in the evening, was stand-by. We cancelled out.
Scene 5: ACL falls short:
While standing in the Customer Service line, we had the idea of modifying the cruise. I called ACL and got Quinn, with whom I have dealt, before. I reported our inability to get to CHS and suggested reversing the cruise: instead of flying to CHS to board the American Star and sail to Jacksonville, I suggested flying to Jacksonville to board the Independence and sail to Charleston. Quinn checked availability and told me he didn't have the authority to approve such a change and went looking for permission, promising to call back. When that call-back finally came, he reported that the request had been denied. I expressed my displeasure at the apparent lack of loyalty to frequent travelers.
Scene 6: A place to stay:
With "no flights to nowhere", we decided to spend the night in or near the airport. We visited the F-Terminal information desk and secured a multi-page list of hotels in the vicinity of the airport. My cell phone was, once again, flat battery, so we found a place to plug in while I made phone calls. What a fiasco! Each call would be answered by an automated system. After choosing reservations, there was a several minute hold. Sometimes, someone would answer and say there was nothing available, sometimes I would just surrender after listening to several minutes of hold music. I pulled out the laptop and made a reservation with Hertz. With no flights available to SBY, we'll just drive home, even though it's getting dark; not our best environment.
Scene 7: Where are our bags?:
After finally giving up on the hotel search, we decided to proceed to Hertz, but first needed to secure our luggage from the canceled flight. At 1900, we went to baggage claim for terminal F, where, once again, there was a line. Here, we encountered several fellow passengers from our canceled CHS flight. We presented our claim checks and they were, quickly scanned and identified. 1909: We were informed that, once our bags were "found" they would be on the carousel. Other passengers reported that they had been waiting for two hours and their bags had not yet appeared. Ours were on the carousel after only 10 minutes; the high point of our day! 1920: A text from Kate asked how our trip was going and I responded: Disastrous!
Scene 8: Hertz Hurts:
With our bags in our possession, we caught the Hertz shuttle out to the rental area. 1937: We got off at the Gold Terminal, as we are members. Our name was NOT on the board. I got in yet another line to ascertain the problem. Once at the head of the line, the attendant informed me that there was no reservation. He told me he would have to charge the walk-up rate, with no reservation, and handed me the phone number for reservations. I called, and after several minutes on hold got an agent who informed me that there was no reservation. I told her that I wanted a car to drive from PHL to SBY for drop off at that airport. She said she didn't think Hertz accepted cars at SBY and said she needed to check, putting me on hold. After several minutes --- dial tone. I asked the attendant what would be the rate for a walkup and he said that he was all out of walkup cars.
Scene 9: SALvation:
While waiting in line at Hertz, a text from Kate asked how our day was going. I brought her up to speed on the current state of calamities and Sal offered to come and get us from PHL and take us back to their house in Wyomissing. That's a 90 minute drive, each way! With Hertz opportunities and options crumbling, we accepted Sal's offer. He asked us to go to Baggage Claim B.
Scene 10: Baggage B:
Lew went in search of some refreshments and, with the phone plugged into charging, once again, I called Linda and Jerry to tell them of our daily disasters. Jerry assured me that Hertz did, indeed, accept drop-offs at SBY. Lew found a nice bottle of water, and, after consuming half, we refilled the bottle with scotch from our bags.