UPDATED and CLARIFIED below!
So, the trip home from Hawaii was supposed to go like this:
- December 23: Board plane at HNL, about 12:30pm.
- Arrive LAX, around 8:00pm.
- Depart LAX for DTW (Detroit), around 12:00am.
- Arrive DTW, around 6:00am.
- Depart DTW for BUF, around 12:00pm.
- Pick up luggage and come home, December 24.
The trip home from Hawaii actually went like this:
- December 23: Boarded plane at HML, around noon or so.
- After circling LAX a time or two because of bad weather and enduring twenty minutes of nothing but turbulence, landed at LAX around 9:30pm.
- Took phone off Airplane Mode to check next flight for DTW. Learn that DTW flight is delayed seven hours to 7:00am.
- Attempt to rebook, but after two hours in the help line, no dice. Somehow we managed to get food before everything closed at LAX terminal, whereupon we settled in for an overnight stay right there.
- Tried sleeping on floor. This was not successful, due to comfort (it was the floor!) and ambient noise: floor-cleaner machines, a guy vacuuming the carpet around us, deliveries of pallets of food for shops and airport restaurants, constant announcements (“DO NOT ACCEPT ITEMS FROM UNKNOWN PERSONS”, “IT IS ILLEGAL TO SMOKE IN THE AIRPORT”).
- At 6:00am, proceed to gate to hopefully board 7:00am flight to DTW.
- 7:00am flight to DTW is canceled.
- Much vexation, annoyance, and panicked texting with my travel genius sister who is at home in Buffalo awaiting us. Somehow she gets us rebooked onto 7:15am flight from LAX to JFK, and then a 4:00pm flight from JFK to BUF.
- We learn that Delta is cancelling hundreds of flights on Christmas Eve due to staffing, Omicron, and other frustrations. We board flight, depart for JFK. (A shout-out here to the Delta reps at LAX as all of this was unfolding. They were really put on the spot, dealing with a lot of shit from a lot of people, and at least for my party, they were genuinely helpful as we worked in a very tight timeframe to ensure that we were all going to be able to get home. One poor Delta worker didn’t even get to take her heavy winter coat off before she was plunged into trying to get a boarding pass printed for my mother. I don’t have an informed opinion of Delta’s mass of flight cancellations, but I honestly cannot complain about how their reps on the ground dealt with what has to be the worst timing for such things.)
- I eat a breakfast sandwich we bought at LAX before departing, then I briefly consider watching one of the dozen movies I loaded onto my tablet before I crash and proceed to spend probably eighty percent of that 4.5 hour flight sleeping.
- Arrive JFK, with no issues. This flight was actually comfortable, and I got to move to the three-seat row where The Wife was sitting, and the middle seat was unoccupied, so we had room. Zzzzzzz.
- Now, it’s 3:00pm and we have an hour until our BUF flight leaves. As we land I consult the World Clock on my phone, where I had a clock on Hawaii time and one on NY time; at this time I determine that twenty-four hours have elapsed since our departure from our hotel room, thus starting our journey home. We have to move our asses from something like Gate 25 to Gate 55. We literally had to walk thirty gates. Moving walkways cut this by maybe, a minute or two. We arrive at the gate just as the flight to BUF is to start boarding.
- We board. At this point we know it’s a total crapshoot as to whether our luggage is gonna make it to BUF with us.
- JFK to BUF flight is uneventful and short. I have a ton of legroom because I’m in the row with the emergency door, which I have already promised the flight attendant that I can handle opening if necessary.
- Arrive BUF around 6:00pm. We’ve now been traveling twenty-seven hours. My brain is barely flickering. You know what’s not flickering? Any hope of…
- …our luggage having arrived. It does not. We note the empty bag carousel, we glance at the Delta Airlines Baggage Office, which is closed and dark. A sign on the door reads “If we’re closed, go talk to a ticketing agent.” But it’s late in the day, and as there are no more departing Delta flights from BUF that night, ticketing agents are gone. We decide to go home and live to fight another day as far as the luggage goes. There’s nothing we can’t live without in any of our bags, though a number of Christmas gifts are in them so those will be gifted late.
- Now it’s Christmas Day. I tweet at Delta to ask about how tracking down delayed baggage works: their system requires a “File Reference Number” which they say to get from a rep at the airport, and I’m thinking, “I gotta go to the airport just to talk to someone about maybe getting my bags?!” Luckily, a Delta social media person sees my tweet and IMs me. We chat back and forth for a bit, the Delta folks give me the File Reference Number and take my info so they can deliver our luggage to our home once it’s back in BUF, and they’re generally very helpful about it. I can’t complain about this at all.
- Now it’s the 26th, and I check the tracking on our luggage. Each bag is “Rebooked for Rush Priority” for delivery today, being routed from JFK-DTW-BUF. I’m sure this schedule makes sense in Airline World (maybe that itenerary gets our bags home earliest, maybe the earliest JFK-BUF direct flight has no room for four bags, maybe maybe maybe.
- I’m scheduling this post for Monday morning and will update or change it as events regarding our luggage warrant. (UPDATE: roughly 10:30am this morning, a courier from Delta delivered our luggage. Huzzah! So ends our trip. We have now unpacked and verified that nothing is broken, nothing is lost, and that all’s well.)
I’ll have more posts to come about our Hawaiian adventure, because it was an absolute delight with only two minor hiccups during the trip. For now, I’m still trying to get my brain back in the right time zone…and as this is posting, I’m back to work. Sigh. (You really do get to a point where vacation is less a refreshing for work and more a tantalizing taste of a retirement that is too far away….)
Here’s New York City (mainly Manhattan) from the air.
Oh, and if you’re wondering where the title of this post comes from, here you go.