So, my journey continues. After a sleepless night at the Portland airport, the JetBlue plane from New York finally landed and 4:45 AM. They let all the passengers off and as soon as I saw that, I took a couple of over-the-counter sleeping pills for my journey home.
At 5:05 am, the pilot and co-pilot came out and told the now awake people in the gate area that, even though they (the pilot and co-pilot) were there and ready to fly, there was no crew so the flight was officially canceled.
I said "Wait a minute - we waited six hours and NOW you tell us there is no crew?"
Pilot: "I just found out myself."
Guy behind me: "Bullsh*t! That is total bullsh*t!"
Me: "I second that."
So all 150 of us head off in a stampede to the JetBlue ticket counter, where there is exactly one person. (I was a pretty respectable 10th in line.) Here's how it went:
Me: I'll take a flight to LaGuardia, JFK, Newark or Hartford.
Hapless JetBlue Guy: Sorry sir, I can only issue you a refund for your return flight and give you a $100 travel certificate.
Me: Book me on another airline.
Hapless JetBlue Guy: We don't have agreements with other airlines. We can not do that.
Me: Book me on another airline.
Hapless JetBlue Guy: Sir, you can say that as much as you want, but there is nothing I can do for you.
Me: If you were me, would you ever fly your sad excuse for an airline again?
Hapless JetBlue Guy: No, sir. This is terrible and I wish there were a manager here.
Then he informs me that if I can get to Seattle, I can take a flight from there. Or I can wait for the next available JetBlue flight from Portland, which will be Saturday at midnight. I almost hit him, but I felt I might start sobbing and thought that would be an incongruous image - me pummeling his face until he was black and JetBlue, Tony Soprano style, while I cried like a girl.
So, now I have my refund and my fabulous $100 flight voucher and I still am no closer to New York than I was six hours ago.
I call my amigo and work colleague Joe Eckert, who books me on a Delta flight through Detroit. Had to go first class and it cost me $1,000, but I need to get home. I go to Delta First Class check-in and wait about 15 minutes. They inform me that the first leg of my flight to Detroit is on Northwest, so I have to check in with them.
And since this skinny white boy from Connecticut booked a last-minute first class ticket, I was selected for additional screening at security. I had to go through one of those machines that blows air at you, while Timmy the TSA security guy (who is also the assistant night manager at the Portland Airport Denny's), swabs down my dirty laundry to make sure I did not smuggle any C4 in with my boxers. The experience was not unlike having JetBlue blow hot air at me. No. Wait. I'd rather submit to a full cavity search than fly JetBlue again.
So here I sit, waiting for my 8:30 AM flight from Portland to Detroit. If all goes according to plan, I will walk in my front door about 13 hours after I was supposed to, at 9:00 PM tonight. I have great confidence that all will NOT go according to plan, so expect a screed against Delta or Northwest during my layover in Detroit.
BTW - if you check the fine print of any airline ticket, you will find that, in fact, they are under no obligation to actually transport you to the local Starbucks, let alone to where it actually says on your ticket.