May 13, 2015
RAVE and RANT: Sweet Vacation…. Sour Ending
I just returned from a wonderful week in Dominica (not the Domincan Republic) with a group of 10 great folks – scuba diving, hiking, exploring the rainforest, swimming under waterfalls and enjoying some amazing Caribbean cuisine.
We stayed at the Castle Comfort Lodge, the place to be on Dominica.
Small intimate hotel right on the water with great food, great dive operation (Dive Dominica,) wonderful service and warm, friendly staff. The dive staff took excellent care of us and the resort staff cared for me like family when I was sick for a day. I had my first lionfish (delicious) and learned how to make REAL ginger tea.
Then…… the flight home. Flight #866 which we re-named “the cursed flight #8-666,” leaving St. Maarten for a plane change in Charlotte.
The train, I mean plane, wreck in order of events:
- Five flights loading within 30 minutes from the same boarding area. 35 minutes.
- You must board a bus to take you to the plane and our bus went to the wrong airline. We wound up circling the tarmac and dodging Cayman Air jets. 15 minutes.
- Finally on the plane, we waited over an hour to learn no one gave the pilot the baggage weight, so he could not complete final calculations for the flight. 1 hour, 15 minutes. I have now given up making our connection in Charlotte and am hoping they book us on another flight.
- After tracking down the baggage weight and finishing the paperwork, we were informed the airport forgot to fuel the plane. Details are so annoying. 40 minutes.
- While fueling the plane, at the air-control tower’s direction, another airline parked their jet in front of us and blocked us in. 20 minutes.
- Finally cleared for take-off, we sit in line on the taxi-way for no apparent reason while NO planes take off. 20 minutes. I sense an overnight in Charlotte in my future.
- Since we waited so long, everyone on the plane is starving. Flight runs out of food, wine and vodka by row 15. It is a long hungry flight for rows 16-38. (Knowing how things can go, I never board a plane without food. I was certain I would be mugged for my pesto Panini.)
- Arriving in Charlotte – we clear immigration and head to the baggage claim where HUNDREDS of bags are stacked around the baggage carousel. Turns out the reason we didn’t have the baggage weight numbers in St. Maarten is that another flights bags were in the hold of our plane. That flight arrived hours before and the passengers left the airport already, so luggage six deep, everywhere.
- We trudge to the US Air desk to learn all flights to the west coast have departed and we have all been booked on flights out the next morning, but those of us that carpooled together are on different flights. Surprise.
- 11:35pm All airport area hotels are sold out. We must stay downtown Charlotte. Taxi fare $38 each way. Hotel $200. US Air gives us a $75 reimbursement form we can turn in to “cover” our expenses. Apparently in 1982 dollars.
- 12:45am We have to be back at the airport at 6:30 am. No one has eaten dinner so we buy frozen microwave dinners, eat in our rooms and go to bed, getting at least 4 hours sleep.
- 6:30am, back at the airport for the flight home.
NOTES TO SELF:
- US Airways – Just say no.
- St. Maarten – the new “flyover” island until they expand their airport and can handle the international traffic. I’m thinking maybe in 2025 I’ll give them another try.
- Write a movie script of the days events and sell to Hollywood. No one would believe this is non-fiction.
March 11, 2015
RANT: The Huffington Post Headline:
6 Google Flights Tricks That Are Better Than Any Travel Agent
So……. I tried Google Flights and compared their results with flights I JUST booked for an upcoming trip. The trip I booked required two, one way tickets on two different airlines and a round trip on a third airline. This was the only way to achieve humane layovers, connections that work while clearing customs and keep the cost under budget.
The cheapest Google Flights recommended itinerary was $59 MORE than MY itinerary and went up from there. And, for all that extra money, passengers got to sit for almost 5 hours in Antigua before spending another two hours in Miami.
No thanks, Google, I’m not feeling lucky.