Part I of my journey is literally about my journey – by plane and shuttles – to the Readers Studio. If your eyes are glazing over already, skip this and come back for Part II tomorrow – that is where I will be talking about the Readers Studio per se – the people, the sessions, the great food!
Thursday morning I was standing outside at the appointed time (5 am), waiting for the airport shuttle to pick me up. Right on time, here come the headlights, they stop at our driveway, then continue on. The van turns around in the neighbors driveway, comes back, picks me up, and off we go. To the driver’s credit, I live in the country, and there are no streetlights. It is hard to find a house if you don’t know exactly where it is. We pick up two more people along the way, and make good time to the airport. I thank the driver, tip him, and off I go. I have my printed out boarding pass, so all I have to do is check my bag. No problem – bag checked, and I am off to find my boarding gate.
About checking bags. I do not like dragging a suitcase around the terminal – even a small one on wheels. I am 5′ 2″, and the suitcase is heavy. If, by some small miracle, I was able to get it into the overhead bin, I would cause a major rumble bopping people on the head as I tried to take it down. I would have to be standing on the nearest seat to reach up that high in the first place. Case closed – I will continue to check my bag(s).
The wait is not too long, I am on the plane (in a window seat – all of my seats were window seats – I liked that!). Arrive in Denver. Check the board – new departure gate. Find gate, sit down. Big announcement – time has been changed to 8 something pm, from 3 something pm. Starting to get unhappy face. Get some lunch, take it down to the gate to wait. A couple of hours go by – I decide to check the board again – gate changes seem to happen at will in Denver. Never did know if that was the airport or the airlines, but it kept happening.
Sure enough – there was a new gate! Hustled myself down there, even though I still had hours to wait. Sat down. Gentleman starts making an announcement. The flight has been cancelled. Bad weather in La Guardia, the air controllers are allowing only so many planes per hour to access the airport. Sounds like a plausible story to me. I join about a dozen other people who were scurrying down to the Frontier customer service area. There were a few people ahead of me, but I got taken care of in good time. I felt sorry for the rest of the passengers, who were all behind me. I have to say here that the manager for the Frontier customer service center was on top of things, very polite, and answered all questions. In fact, he wanted all questions directed to him, so that his reps could get people out in a timely manner. He and all of the reps were very courteous and good at what they do. They cared.
I could not get out that day (Thursday), but I could get out a noon the next day, going through Kansas City to get to La Guardia. Okay, slow as I might be at times, even I knew that I was going to miss the entire first day of the Readers Studio. I had to be accept that this is the best that could happen at this time. Because the issue was weather, and not a malfunctioning plane, passengers (who were referred to as “distressed” passengers) were given discount vouchers. You were to call a specific number, and they would find a hotel for you. We were also assured that we could stay in the airport overnight and be perfectly safe. That did not sound like a good idea to me, so I called the number. I was told that there was one hotel in the area accepting distressed passengers. I called that number – they were very polite, got me a room, and sent their shuttle immediately for another passenger and myself. We went to the Red Lion Inn, which I highly recommend. Polite staff (with some of the most professional looking makeup I have ever seen!), and great rooms. My luggage was not with me – when I asked if there was somewhere that I could purchase a toothbrush and toothpaste, I was handed them free of charge. I know – hotels do this kind of thing, but it impressed me!
I woke up in the am with my heart pounding, having a hard time breathing. Immediate thought – NOT while I am away from home, please! Then I remembered I was in Denver – one is not supposed to be able to breath in Denver! I calmed down then. When I checked out, the charge was less than I had been quoted, so I was a happy camper.
Back at the airport, boarding pass in hand (I got that the day before from the customer service lady that helped me) I headed for the gate. Checked the board first – didn’t trust anyone by this time! 😉 We take off for Kansas City. All I can say about the Kansas City airport is this – I was relieved that my departing gate was only two gates down from my arrival gate! That is a horrendous airport – people traffic going both ways through a very confined hallway. Compounded by a series of lovely PSA’s – please check the airport website, friend them on Face Book and chat on Twitter. WTF? Are they nuts?
We take off for La Guardia – I breathe a sigh of relief! Got into La Guardia around 9:30 at night. headed to the baggage area to claim my bag – which had been sent on ahead that morning. Back up to the ticketing area. The lady at the counter takes me to the luggage they have set aside – I was surprised there was so little of it! Found my bag, called for the hotel shuttle, and arrived at the hotel I think a little after 10 pm Friday night.
Return trip went a lot easier – gates were correct, planes left on time, the airport shuttle at Sea-Tac (my home base) was near the baggage area – I made it home in one piece! Hurray!
Stay tuned tomorrow for news about the people and events at the Readers Studio! And … for why I was very unhappy over a certain sequence of events that I had no control over.
(c) May 2011 Bonnie Cehovet