My UFANightmare in the Air

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We all get excited about a trip to a convention in Vegas. I’m no different. I looked forward to my trip to Las Vegas for the BARGE Convention and Tournaments for many months. I wanted to be sure that I had plenty of time in town so I booked to arrive a few days before the tournament started. I figured that this would give me time to settle in, and get used to the climate and playing conditions.

Finally the day arrived that I was going to leave. To say that I was excited and looking forward to this trip would be an understatement. The following story was posted to on my return. It made a big hit and many found it humorous. I for one, did not. The airline in this story shall remain anonymous.

Ok gang; here’s my trip report…

I left three days in advance of BARGE (Thank Heavens). The limo fights Sunday evening traffic for two and a half hours to get to LGA in NYC (normally a 50-minute trip). I can hear the driver mumbling under his breath something to the effect that he could have had the night off, if it wasn’t for me. I arrive two hours early for takeoff. I am hyper and climbing the airport terminal walls like a fly, waiting for the flight to be called. Finally, I board the plane, and we are airborne. Hurray!

We are in the air for about 5 minutes (not at altitude, but higher than I would like to fall), when the pilot comes on and tells us that we have to land at Newark International Airport, due to mechanical problems. I reach into my pocket and cannot find any Rosary beads to use. I search my carry-on for a bible, no luck. I thought better of my next thought, which was to stand up and start yelling for a priest to give me the last rites. It seems that the landing gear would not fully retract. Not a big problem until you land, especially if they will also not fully deploy.

We land at Newark, and we have to change planes get new seat assignments and store our carry on luggage again. One and a half hours or so later, we are out on the tarmac once more. I take a look out the window and see lots of flashing lights and what looked like Jeeps or fire trucks. The pilot comes on says “Due to debris on the runway, all runways but one are closed to take offs and landings. We will be proceeding to that open runway”. “Debris on runway” is airline talk for saying that there was some sort of a crash. He is also nice enough to let us know that there are 27 planes in front of us, and it will not be more than about half an hour before it’s our turn.

I have a tight connection in O’Hare in Chicago (40 mins.). I sit in that bucket of bolts in which the cabin temperature is slowly rising to the boiling point of water. It is an hour and a half (seems to be an airline timeline), before we are on our takeoff roll. I ask the flight attendant what my chances are of making my Las Vegas connection? She tells me they are trying their best.

The pilot comes on and says that they are hoping to make up lost time by cruising at maximum speed. I am not too sure I like that as I can hear all kind of creaks and moans emanating from the fuselage around me. I am not a happy camper. The pilot, with a slight southern drawl tells us that he has called ahead and told ground control that we will be late, and any connecting flights will delay as long as possible.

We finally get to UFA Chicago. We dock in bay 11. I again look out the window and next door I see all the smiling faces in the plane in bay 10, which is my flight to Las Vegas. It is just being towed out of the dock for takeoff. Then the flight attendant comes in and reads the connecting flights that have been missed. Do I have to say that mine was first on the list?

I go on TILT. I calmly run to the airline’s main desk, hoping to beat all the other passengers on the plane. I find that at this hour they only have one attendant, and there are already 75 half-crazed passengers trying to get new bookings for their destinations. After a rather small exchange of ideas with the ticket agent, the airline puts me up at the Hilton. No more flights to Vegas that night. The suite is big enough to host BARGE. The night manager of the Hilton asks me if I am pleased with the room. I say something to the effect that “the room is too long a walk from the strip.”

I call airline reservations. They tell me that the next direct flight to LV is at 10 am the next morning. I say “you gotta do better than that.” Ok, they then tell me they have a 4am flight to Dallas/Fort Worth that will give me a connection to LV from there. Then they give me $15 for dinner and/or breakfast, this in a hotel where a cup of coffee is $5.00. Of course no restaurants or kitchens in the hotel are open at this hour, so it had to be room service. So much for the $15, it just about covered the tip. It’s 12-midnight. Room service brings me a ham sandwich. The food tasted like it was thawed out over a candle, as no kitchens were open, but I ate it like it was a Prime Rib.

I tell the front desk to give me a 2am wake up call. Just as my head hits the pillow it’s “WAKE UP TIME”. I run across the street to the airport, get to dock 5 and fall asleep in a chair. I wake up when someone shakes me and asks if I am boarding this plane for Dallas/Fort Worth. I run to board my plane and get there with no problems. I have to change planes again and I AM OFF TO LAS VEGAS ONLY 30 HOURS AFTER LEAVING HOME…

My flight arrives at McCarran. We taxi towards the docking bay and then stop. I am wondering why we are sitting on the tarmac, only a dozen or so feet away from the dock? I look out the window again, and notice that every other docking crew but ours is doing its job. Oh God, another announcement: “Sorry folks but there is a job action by the ground crew and we have just called headquarters for instructions.” I start to feel faint. I want to tell the pilot to let me have a shotgun and this strike will be over in 20 seconds, but I think better of the idea.

One hour later the strike is settled and we disembark. I end up with about 15 airline tickets for souvenirs by the end of trip. The only thing that I can be thankful for is that I didn’t have a seat next to one of Maxi Shapiro’s pals, Dirty Wally or Big Denny. How that happened I’ll never know, but thank Heaven for small favors.

Now go win money.



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