Sunday, September 14, 2008

Unintentional Philly

Our trip to London started off well enough... we left a bit early so we would be sure to make it to the airport on time. We wanted to have enough time to check in and I also had to exchange my American dollars for British Pounds. We made it through check in and security fine (with the exception of a billion questions the computer asked me about my passport!) and then I headed off to Travelex. The currency exchange went well and I quickly headed back to the terminal where Justin was waiting.

I was so hot from my jog throughout the airport that I stopped in the gift shop to buy a hair elastic and a bottle of water. While watiing in line to pay for my purchases I hear my name being paged over the airport loudspeaker. Of course they also mispronounced my name... they were telling me to report back to the Travelex counter. I put down my purchases and started the 10-minute jog across the airport. By the time I reached the counter they had paged me 5 or 6 times!! Turns out that the Travelex person shorted me 100 British Pounds! I was pretty ticked, but at least she caught it and was honest about it!! I started my journey back to the terminal. This was the third time I had to go through security... not fun!

By the time I got to Justin I was exhausted! The Travelex counter was not close! We waited for a bit for Beth and Brad to show up and boarded the plane on final call. After sitting in the airplane for a while we were told that due to bad weather there are no planes taking off or landing at the Philadelphia airport, which is where our layover was. Before taking off we spent 2 1/2 hours on the tarmac sitting on the plane. We were all miserable and people were not happy. The plane was hot and cramped and the seats were leather so my ass was on fire! We finally took off and made it to Philadephia three hours late! Our connecting flight to London, which we should have had a 2 hour 45 minute layover for, had just left without us! We were assured that when we departed a gate agent would be there to assist us with any connection issues... that wasn't the case as we had to hunt an agent down!

We went to the US Air counter and waited in line for a while. When we finally got to the head of the line all the agents went home... there was a women in a uniform that we went to for help. She said that they had to "furlough" all their staff and everyone goes home at 11pm so we needed to go to a gate and speak to one of the reps there and they would help us. I wasn't sure why she couldn't help us, but we did what she said and went to the gate agent she suggested. Long story short, the soonest flight they could put us on was in 24 hours and they would not pay for a hotel for us since the delay was weather related. There is so much more to this, but it would take days to type! We were given a hotel voucher for a discounted rate and were told to go to the shuttle area. When the shuttle came the driver told us that there were no rooms and he wasn't sure why they gave us a voucher. We trekked across the airport and back to a couple of US Air reps who acted like they couldn't care less. We turned around and saw the original woman (Pamela) and made a beeline.

We told Pamela that the hotel they had sent us to was booked and that we needed a place to stay. She promised that she would get back to us in 15 minutes. We parked it on a bench and waited. There was another stranded traveler there who waited with us. I'm not sure of her name, but she's an OB-GYN from Los Angeles. About 45 minutes later Pamela came back and told us that she got "special permission" to put us up at the Ramada. She gave us some names and numbers and told us to go back to the shuttle area... we waved down the shuttle and the driver said they were booked. We all just looked at each other in disbelief! He called the hotel and said that they did have our reservations so we drove to the Ramada. When we got to the Ramada the clerk said that she didn't know what we were talking about... they had been booked since 10pm and no one had called her. Exhausted, we just sat in the lobby to ponder what to do. The Dr. called the contact number Pamela had given her and told her the situation. Pamela talked to the clerk and the clerk said they were booked... I was so frustrated at this point that I knew I was going to cry so I walked away to get a drink. All I wanted was to be on a plane to London!!

Around 2am the Ramada clerk told us that there were several people who didn't show up for their reservations and she would give us their rooms. I was so happy to know that I wasn't going to have to sleep on the airport floor! We checked in and decided to walk to the diner to get some food even thought it was now 3am!! I had not eaten since 1pm and was feeling very nauseated! We ate at the Philly Diner and then walked back to the hotel. As soon as my head hit the pillow I was out!!

We asked for a later check out and they gave us until 3pm so that was nice. We left the hotel and went back to the diner and stayed there for several hours... We, of course, had Philly Cheese Steaks since we were in Philly (I had chicken!) When we were walking back to the hotel we were almost back to the entrance and Brad said "That's Danny Bonaduce!" I looked up and sure enough there he was!! You know that I never pass up a celebrity moment so we all took pictures with him. He was great about it and quite accomodating!

So... now we are waiting in the Ramada lobby hoping they don't kick us out. We are heading back to the airport around 8pm and hopefully there will be no problems with the flight. Hopefully, after 24 hours of sheer hell, at 10:45pm tonight we will be headed to Heathrow!

It's been so bad that it can only get better... right?