I called the Sydney Intercontinental to tell them we would be 24 hours late, and our reservation would not be cancelled. The lady convinced me not to cancel our first night (at approx $400) so we could have our room immediately upon arrival at 7:30 am Tuesday. She ended the conversation with a lilting, “Have a lovely afternoon.” It was 5am EDT, and I felt miserable, but I smiled and thanked God for her graciousness.
OK. On advice from my friend Bill, the pilot, I apologize for criticizing the USAirways pilot for his decision not to fly the aircraft with dents in it (most likely from hail) but I will clarify that my vow never to fly that airline again holds, due to the surly flight attendant and gate agent. I’ll be quick not to dwell on the negative… passengers were stressed after a completely unexpected three-hour delay and poor communication. We were told to exit the aircraft and wait for an announcement on a new gate. The first announcement was, “Stop blocking the airport.” Then, we got a new gate and were told just as soon as the plane was cleaned and serviced with food, we would reboard. Well, a few hours later they announced that the cleaning crew had JUST arrived! There were three young men with Apple laptops sitting in a row, and you should have seen all three faces make, “Oh my God” expressions. Next we are boarding, and for some reason we are in zone 5, but they announced if you have a Silver Preferred USAirways Visa Card, you can board with zone 2. So we did, until the gate agent snagged me like a red handed criminal and verballed threw me against the wall. I have a USAirways Visa Card, I begged, as Charlie sneaked off down the jetway. But it isn’t printed on your boarding pass, so get over there, she replied nastily. Lucky that I bolted for the line when they announced zone 5, because shortly after I had been cleared to board, the nasty agent made the remaining passengers check all carry on bags. A few minutes later, some of these unhappy passengers remarked at the open space in the overhead bins when they were making their way to their seats. They expressed their consternation to the flight attendant standing near us. “Do you WANT to be on this airplane?!” she shouted at them angrily. (As Charlie whispered to me, we did three hours ago…) All of us in earshot were speechless with what looked like an imminent fist fight and passenger ejection until another passenger defused the tension with the comment, “Come on! This delay has been long enough!” Animosity lingered in the air. This was 9 pm. We landed in SFO at 3 am (EDT) and finally fell into bed at the Hyatt at 5 am. I reflected that it was a good thing my parents were not making this trip at their age.
Yesterday was the first time I missed an international flight, and it will be the last time I will fly with USAirways. Crazy thing happened: we were all in our seats in CLT, ready to push back at 6 pm, and the pilot says he noticed some dents in the tail section of the plane, about the size of golf balls, and they needed to investigate it. next they decide we need to investigate, and that will take time, so we need to get another aircraft. Well, that took three hours, although they never apologized or told us how long it would be. So, we missed the only daily flight to SYD from SFO. Got on the phone and were relieved to get seats on the next day’s flight. here we are about to board, so I have to close very soon. we got to our hotel at 5am our time. very tired and bummed out. However, Charlie and I had an excellent day walking all over sunny San Francisco today. Will blog about that next time. Question for our favorite former pilot Bill: what do you think about the golf ball sized dents in the plane, and do you think it was right not to fly that plane??
I invite you to follow my travel blog during this exciting two-week journey around three beautiful regions of Australia, beginning April 17 when we arrive in Sydney. Charlie and I fell in love with Sydney two years ago, and we can hardly wait to see that view of Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the roof of the Intercontinental Hotel, and roam our favorite neighborhood, the Rocks. We are back again (so soon!) to visit our daughter Erin and travel with her, while she is studying at University of Sydney. On Wednesday April 20, we will make a day excursion to the Blue Mountains, which will be a new destination for us, and that evening, Charlie and I are hoping to stay awake for a ballet performance of Madame Butterfly at the Sydney Opera House. On Good Friday, we will fly from Sydney to Ayers Rock in the heart of the Outback and will dine under the stars in the desert that evening while watching the sun set over Uluru. (Photos to come!) On Saturday we will tour Uluru and Kata Tjuta in sunrise and sunset tours (no sleeping in on this trip!). Up again at 4 am on Easter Sunday for a 5 am pickup and ride to Kings Canyon where we will hike and take a few hundred more photos! We end the day in Alice Springs. On Easter Monday we fly to Cairns and stay in a lovely hotel overlooking the marina. It will be so cool to change overnight from a desert landscape to the most beautiful seascape in the world! On Tuesday morning we board the Coral Princess for four days and four nights at sea around the Great Barrier Reef. Can’t wait to see the photos taken with my new underwater camera. I will be sending Erin below the surface for this! I don’t want to think about the end of the trip, the return flight to Sydney, the last night there, and the May 1 flight to San Francisco. We will console ourselves with one lovely night in the Ritz Carlton, SF, and then fly cross-country on May 2. So, we won’t think about this. Stay tuned for exciting adventures and photography! How fun to be keeping in touch this way!