Airlines, Airports, & General Unpleasantness. The less fun side of travelling.
Travelling is usually fun, or at least the destination usually is. But often, the trip there can set a negative stage for a visit. A bad time at customs, a weird time at security, or a scary in-flight moment, can set you up for a bit of a less than fantastic start. We spent the weekend in New York City, which was awesome. But the trip there was not a great experience.
The scary part was our flight. Generally I would like to believe that all aircraft we go on, are in full working order and don’t have any technical issues, because they have in theory been checked and tested sufficiently. Well, unfortunately our Porter Airlines airplane was not in full working order when we got on it, but it took being up in the air for at least 30 minutes for people to make the connection. We were experiencing pretty intense pressure issues as we raised in elevation. I was thinking it was unusual, but it kept getting worse as we kept flying. At some point the captain comes on the intercom and says “unfortunately due to pressure issues on this aircraft, we will be turning back to Toronto.”
You know what you don’t want to hear when you’re in flight and want to get some where? I think that pretty much covers it. Sure, it’s a good call to turn the plane around when it’s experiencing technical issues, I’m sure it’s not something they would do lightly or something they want to do at all, but I feel as though ultimately, they shouldn’t be experiencing technical issues – those issues should be fixed before we even get up in the air. It made me wonder if it was related to the labour issues they were currently having.
Extra interesting experiences from this flight – heavy landings are rough. Usually when you take a flight and the plane lands it’s significantly lighter than it started out as because it burned through most of its fuel stores. Since this flight had only been in the air for half an hour or so, it hadn’t burned through that much fuel, the landing was heavy (though, that said, it still wasn’t the worst landing I’ve ever had…)
They told us we could sit on the plane until they “fixed the problem,” then they told us we needed to get off the plane so they could double check they fixed it, and we sat in the porter lounge for about an hour waiting to be called back on the plane. Well… apparently they hadn’t fixed the problem because we were switched to another plane altogether.
We had booked an early flight so we could get into New York before the midday rush of travelers, but because of the delay – once we got into Newark airport we were in this absurdly long line dreaming about signing up for the Global Entry Program. On the plus side, once we went through the line and talked to an agent, they were nice, quick, and we were on our way.
Now for the Murphy’s Law part. There had been delays a plenty, but it seemed we were finally on our way to the city. We got to the train station, where there are New Jersey Transit trains, and Amtrak trains departing and heading towards Penn station in NYC. We bought NJT tickets at the terminal. I was pretty sure we were supposed to get on a NJT train. But guess which train we ended up going to?
Along with several other people – we got on the wrong train. It felt like the wrong train from the moment we walked on to it, but someone had directed us and a group of others to this one. Nope, just someone at the station confusing some tourists. I get the impression from the Amtrak staff and conductor that this misunderstanding happens on a fairly regular basis, and they were kind enough not to get mad at as. We got off at the next stop, they directed us to the NJT side, and eventually we made our way to NYC.
Walking into our hotel we were miserable, cranky, and just generally done with everything – or maybe that was just me. But the guy at the counter at our hotel (Eventi) really turned it all around for us. It’s weird to have such a powerfully positive check-in experience, but there it was. We walked in after a very long (relatively short) trip, and he made it better just by being nice, welcoming, and friendly. I’ll have to send an email to the hotel letting them know how awesome their staff was to us.
We also received a tweet from Porter a few days later:
@mdgee Thanks for your patience! Hope you enjoyed the flight once en route!
— Porter Airlines (@porterairlines) March 4, 2013
I was not patient. I was annoyed, and getting a reply 2 days after I post something negative on twitter was extra annoying, and just restarted my annoyance with the company. (Golly, how many times can I say annoyed here.)
As an aside, I’ve tried contacting Porter in the past by both email and twitter to find out if they plan to ever have vegan options in flight and have never received a reply. Porter hands out little snack boxes, and the breakfast ones usually contain a muffin and a yogurt. Now, they could have emailed and told me about the Terra root chips they have, or that they have blue diamond almonds, or pumped up the options I did have, but instead, they opted to send no reply at all. Doesn’t seem very “refined” to me.
Luckily, the trip only got better from there. I’ll admit though, the very comfy hotel bed (complete with down free pillows & bedding – as requested) and the amazing view from the room, helped a lot with relaxing and getting back to happy. It was nice to get on with our brief visit to the city that never sleeps. Our next stop – the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival.
Travel is hard enough these days without “extra” things going wrong. Glad your trip finally turned around for you. We’re traveling this month on a very long trip, and part of me dreads the travel part.
At least it’s not always so complicated 🙂
I hope you have a great time travelling!
why do you fly into newark instead of laguradia or jfk?
lets hang the next time you’re in nyc!
It was the only NYC airport that Porter flies into. I think it’s also just because it’s super familiar now. Plus I kinda hate laguardia 🙂
I always think of you as living in the West Coast for some reason, I didn’t really connect that you’re in NY now. We should totally hang out next time.
Aaaah I miss NYC but I don’t miss the crazy customs queue. I think we were in it for three hours!
The international line is SO LONG!