I didn’t make it to my destination when I was supposed to … but did I really expect anything different?
My Delta flight from LGA to Miami left on time and deposited me where it was supposed to when it was supposed to — a jaw dropping event in modern travel in the USA. But I couldn’t speak too soon as I was soon in for the typical American flying experience.
A text soon appeared on my phone: your flight is delayed, dumbass. It was only an hour and a half delay, so if we give it the expected handicap, we were leaving just about on time. No big deal. But my skepticism was put on notice: usually when there’s one delay, there’s another, then another, then another … eventually making the passengers so desperate to leave that when they finally board they feel grateful for the corkscrew dick that they just took for the past who knows how many hours.
Because we know that very, very often that boarding call is never made.
But my flight to Havana would board. As I sat there and watched the first groups get on I was about ready to eat my negative sentiments. But then the boarding came to an unexpected halt and then, out of nowhere, an announcement: “We are de-boarding due to a mechanical issue.”
An hour goes by. Then another text: three hour delay.
I was the first to go up to the gate agent and “remind” him that we were owed meal vouchers.
Some more hours passed. It gave me a chance to check out Delta terminal of the Miami airport a little better. It was kind of a modern marvel, having an appearance that hadn’t been upgraded since the late 80s / early 90s. It brought me back to my childhood — the way things used to look, the old grimy carpets with those askance geometic patterns, the old worn fried food restaurants with advertisements for Bud Light, the payphones that actually still worked.
I thought of how my mom would always tell me to make sure I always carried a quarter on me in case I ever needed to make a phone call. We couldn’t have anticipated an age where people would carry their phones with them and never carry pocket change … a day when my kids probably don’t even know what a payphone is let alone how to use one.
I thought of the days when flying was a borderline luxury experience. When passengers were treated respectfully and airlines still believe they had to compete for business based on customer experience.
It made me kind of sad when I thought about the fact that 30 years from now I would probably look back on my experiences traveling today with nostalgia. Someday I will probably write something to the effect of “Back in the days when we carried our IDs as physical passport books and didn’t get denied boarding because of too low of a social credit score.”
Then another text came in and disrupted my meditation: canceled.
Then the chaos began. As we all stood in a line that was shaped more like a mob waiting to rebook our flight it became apparent that the airline was running out of seats. It started out that people were being booked on the following day’s flight, then this change to two days later, and by the time I was up it was three days later. I laughed. The gate agent kind of laughed too. It was ridiculous to tell a passenger that the couldn’t fly out for three days because their plane didn’t work. “So it would be better to take another airline?” I asked. The checkin agent nodded and guaranteed that Delta would cover it the cost — and I had her reconfirm this.
I guess I had a free night in Miami.
While Miami is a far cry from Havana, I figured I may as well make the most of it. I didn’t really expect Delta to get me there on time anyway. So I took the shuttle bus over to the hotel that the airline booked, dropped my bags, and then headed over to South Beach. I went to a dive bar, drank some seltzers, talked to a beat up (fucked up) girl about the fight she just got in, and watched some of the Stanley Cup Finals. A Florida team was playing but nobody in the bar cared. Hockey has no business being in the south — there’s no culture for it and only serves as a mechanism for retirees from the north to be able to see their favorite teams when they come in to play.
I then walked around for a while and found a steakhouse and had a strip steak while sitting out on the sidewalk watching people go by. I then went for a walk at night by the beach and then decided to call it and went back to the hotel. Travel is kind of empty when you don’t have a mission.