Friday, January 9, 2009
Carlisleans turn travel lemons into lemonade
Traveling this past holiday season was a breeze for a few and a nightmare for others. The East Coast had clear weather for the most part, but the Midwest was hit by a large winter storm just before Christmas, which shut down travel, particularly in the Chicago region. Carlisle residents are a hardy bunch, though, and the Mosquito heard stories about how they found fun in the face of frustration.
Can’t get there from here
Marilyn and Ken Harte made plans to fly to Iowa City via Detroit on the 19th to visit their son Will and his family. But after arriving at the Manchester N.H. Airport, they learned their Delta Northwest plane was delayed for a day due to the storm out west. After a day at home and trying again the next day, they boarded the plane and found themselves stranded at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport, waiting for another plane to take them to Iowa. Knowing they had a night and day to waste, they rested up at a hotel (which was funded by Delta) and had “the best ribs ever,” said Marilyn, at the Montgomery Inn Restaurant in Ft. Mitchell, Ky. Finally, after a bit more delay as the mechanics repaired the plane’s landing gear, they arrived in Iowa and settled in at Will’s house by midnight on December 21. “Coming back was fine,” she said,“but we both got terrible colds.”
Trains and planes, no automobiles
The Sorn/Hart/Anagnostopoulos family expected grandparents Jean and Bill Sorn to arrive by train from Syracuse on December 23. But the train they needed was trapped by the snow in Chicago. They finally arrived in Carlisle on Christmas after a long, noisy ride. Determined to get them back faster, the grandparents were flown back on US Air. But Grandma Jean, disabled by diabetes, had an expired driver license. Security policy at the airport meant Jean had to submit to an embarrassing “security pat-down” while seated in her wheelchair, which she took with great grace. Grandpa Bill had to remember to take metal objects out of his pocket, which he succeeded in doing after a few tries through the metal detector. More trouble: the plane was a small puddle-jumper, reached by walking out on the tarmac and climbing up the steps. No problem! The airline drove over a portable elevator and lifted them up to the door of the plane. Mission accomplished.
New Year’s Eve at Logan
The storm in New England on December 31 affected the Ryder family, who were flying back from Salt Lake City. It was a bumpy, nerve-wracking ride, said Dale Ryder. “They did a great job,” she said. “They got us down safely.” Though the plane arrived on time, the luggage doors froze, leaving passengers waiting in the baggage claim area for an hour. As the New Year rang in, “We were hugging each other. All the people on the plane were hugging,” said Dale Ryder. “We were safe, that’s what was most important.”
Ellen Miller also arrived home just before midnight on New Year’s Eve, in time, she said, to watch the ball drop in Times Square. She experienced significant delays on all legs of her trip to San Francisco and back. “On my return flight to Logan, we boarded the plane on time in San Francisco, an hour later we all deboarded the plane while they searched for ‘mechanical problems,’ and another hour later we reboarded, ready to take off when everybody had restowed their carry-on luggage.”
Hawaii island hoppers
The Bishop family decided to spend the holidays in Hawaii and they planned to travel from island to island. They ran into trouble when they discovered their flight from the Big Island to Maui was over-booked by 20 passengers (the plane had only nine seats). “Is it enough to say that I felt we were on an episode of The Amazing Race?” asked Liz Bishop. After many false leads on alternatives, which included a booking on a non-existent flight, they eventually tracked down a later flight on Aloha Air. “Hawaii is on island time,” she said. They eventually traveled to Oahu, just after President-elect Barack Obama experienced a power outage at his family’s vacation site.
Australia or bust
Three members of the Fell family also had some problems with flights, but they had a very different experience from the Bishops. Betsy Fell and her two daughters, heading home from Australia, were stuck waiting six hours for their 13-hour Qantas flight to Los Angeles. “When I asked them why, they muttered something about catering,” Fell said, noting that a long trans-Atlantic flight needs food and drink. What happened next was what Fell said was a “blast from the past.” The airline gave them food vouchers to use while they waited. When they boarded they were given “goody bags,” which had items like sleep socks and headphones. The seats were roomy and each had a TV screen, the in-flight entertainment was controlled at each seat, and food and drinks were included. “So different from our American Airlines flight from L.A. to Boston,” she said, “on which we had to buy headphones and had one chance to purchase a sandwich for a six-hour flight.”
Their late arrival in L.A. meant they missed their connecting flight to Boston, but Qantas had already rebooked their American Airline flight to Boston for them. They again gave them food vouchers and, after a wait “while we used the Internet kiosk,” they were finally home on the morning of December 22. “They were just so nice,” Fell said of Qantas.
No place like home
The Chaffin family spent some of the holidays on Cape Cod “with no woes,” said Lisa Chaffin. “The only humorous thing I have encountered is that the only time my kids get sick is during school vacations,” she added. School has started again, so all should be healthy. ∆
© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito