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How to jump-start travel after flight snafus

in Ark Weekender by

Too often, flight plans damper our travel in these growing uncertain airplane delays and destination chaos. Here are some tips to get through them.

Packed and ready to jump on a straight flight to Buenos Aires, plans were shattered the day before my wife and I were set to travel. 

We got a notification that Argentines went on a nation-wide work strike causing most of the airports to shut down. They provided options for other flights, so we hustled to get the next thing smoking. Since we didn’t insure our hotel rooms and lost money on every night we missed, we took the first thing we could find which was a flight connecting to Dallas then Buenos Aires.

When we got to Newark’s airport, we discovered that late spring weather grounded or delayed flights in the middle-states of the country. On the plane, we were buckled in and waiting to leave, the pilot made a familiar, but kind announcement. Due to weather, our flight was postponed some more. 

The wait went from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Next thing you know, the airplane shut off and the door opened. We had to deplane. The delay time would be longer.

While walking out, the pilot offered words of sorry to annoyed passengers. Politely, I pulled him aside and said, “Hey man, tell me this, are we really going to leave?”

He paused then said, “The weather is unpredictable. I was stuck for five days in the midwest last week.”

TIP ONE: Ask the experts. I’m glad I chatted with the pilot. That information changed our plans, yet again. 

After shuffling off the ramp, the agent said that our flight was delayed indefinitely. I did not need to hear anything more. With some nice begging, the agents rebooked us to fly out of JFK. Off we headed on a shuttle to New York. The cost was $34.

Many people don’t know that the trek from Newark to JFK is easily two hours on the train. To avoid the headache, we hopped on a shuttle that took roughly one hour.

We weren’t the only ones who switched gears. The shuttle was packed with people anxiously hoping that they’d make their changed flight.

TIP TWO: Always carry money in your pocket for last minute changes in travel or a nice meal at the airport. I was double-charged for the shuttle and Newark, and ended up disputing the fees later. 

Plus, I was starting to get hungry. We’d been in motion since 7 AM, and by the time we made it to JFK, it was dark. 

As soon as we got past the gate and breathed a sigh of relief that we made it in enough time for a 7:15 PM flight, the weather in Queens went from sun to grey clouds to almost black. In a few minutes, a deluge of rain hit the huge airport windows. Dammit. The weather that was beating up the midwest finally made its entrance into the Northeast.

Our flight time changed to 10 p.m. then midnight. Next thing that posted was indefinite. Damn. Our trip went from a guaranteed to perhaps, a possible.

When mother nature and father time converge, you’ve lost control, so all we could do is anticipate the best. I prefer to do that with a nice beer and dinner. We decided on a nice sit-down dinner because we didn’t know when we’d get on the plane, and what our next meal would be. Eight hours later, we boarded the plane a little after midnight.

TIP THREE: Try to use carryon as much as possible and bring your essentials. That does include at least one change of underwear and simple clothes.

With travel toothbrushes, deodorant, underwear and a few towels (my wife brings these organic orange and lavender wipes), we would have to thug it out in the airport if needed be. Years ago when my wife’s luggage somehow made it across the country and she had to purchase a new wardrobe while on vacation, we try to avoid checking in baggage.

When your plans fumble or you might have to quickly change your route, the best way to go is taking carryon luggage. If you’re on Spirit Airlines or Frontier, may the forces we with you. I don’t have a tip for those traps with wings. My hip hurts thinking of the ill-planned trip to Cartegena on Spirit in 2014 then a last minute flight to Houston in 2016 on Frontier.

Thankfully, three days later, we landed in Buenos Aires. Now, I can tell you how me and my wife were slightly profiled at customs because traveling-while-Black is real, but let’s move forward and not allow that to define this narrative, as I must do in this world. But please take note.

We made it Buenos Aires with nine days to spare, shaking off the travel false starts.

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