Yesterday (Friday), my wife and I planned a weekend getaway on the spur of the moment to Vegas.. Of course any spur of the moment plans usually lead to failure (to launch), and this plan was no different. Our plan to partake some fun in Vegas was just not meant to be this weekend. So Sin City still awaits our future visit.
My wife works for the airlines and she had a couple of passes to fly to Vegas on out of JFK airport in NYC.. So we packed our weekend get away bags (in record time) and headed towards the airport, with the knowledge that there WERE available seats for “standby passengers”. Needless to say the things went wrong one after another.. and here we are back in NJ after two trips to JFK with us being no closer to Vegas than seeing the departing flight numbers at the terminal.
The comedic tragedy of events unfolded like this:
- We made sure our kids were taken care of . The older one agreed to take care of the younger one after she had her semi-sleep over dates with her BFF’s from middle school.
- We took off for NYC on schedule and on-time! Our first issue was where to park the car since our family member in NYC had plans… Thankfully this first disaster was a blessing in disguise. My Sis-in-law had other plans, so she couldn’t drive us, so we were on our own and had to figure out how/where to long-term park our car. Instead of wasting hundreds of $ in sin-city, we were fortunate to spend most of our money in the parking lot where we spent $36 for 2 days of parking when in reality we only parked for a maximum of 2 hours!
- First Attempt to take off: We get the airport in time, park the car, and get on the free train shuttle to the Terminal. When we get to the terminal (Terminal 5), we quickly realized the the walk from the train to the terminal is at least a mile away! So we schlep to the counter at the terminal and we are told that there is “slim to no chance” of us using our tickets on the flight. Not a problem! Experienced “non-rev” passengers, just wave this off and either pray for cancellations at the gate, or just wait for the next flight.
- I gotta admit the Terminal at JFK is impressive and the staff at the counters were very reasonable and helpful! This was one of the rays of sunshine on this cloudy and cold trip…
- Since this was the last flight of the day, we rolled our listing to the next morning flight at 7:45 with our hopeful sin-city thoughts.. again this was just wishful thinking of course.. We went back to the long-term lot, paid the $18 for the privilege of parking for 1 hour and. We had a nice dinner and went to mother-in-Law’s house to crash for the night. Gotta tell you my in-law’s are the greatest when it comes to taking care of u! Bet you didn’t see that coming!
- Next morning we rolled out at 5:30 AM for our sojourn into more disappointment.
- Second Effort to Take off (Next Day):We now are experts at JFK parking, so we park our car in Long term and go through security and head to the gate with positive vibes that maybe we will be on this flight and have our weekend get away after all! Not..
- We get to the gate, and of course we find out that this flight has about 15 seats, but since we are a “courtesy freebie”, we will have to wait till all the “paying passengers” are loaded on.. That should have been the first warning sign that we headed for more disappointment. For me, I ignored this signs with unabashed optimism since I’ve become a seasoned “non-rev” flyer during this summer!
- We got some food for our 6 hour flight and me being irrationally exuberant asked the cashier to ‘throw away the receipt”. Big mistake which cost me another $20 as the rules are “no receipt – no refund!”.
- I called up hotels.com and ensured we had a nice 3 star hotel lined up in Vegas. Of course, going with my instinct, I decided to NOT make a financial commitment and reserve the hotel.. Best decision I made over the past 24 hours!
- Fast Forward.. All the paying passengers load and we are left waiting.. the agent says 4 or 5 people have not shown up, so we may be on the flight! Oh happy days and euphoria rises inside me.. This lasted about 4 minutes.
- Just as the agent is about to call us, who strolls in but the two couples from their morning coffee break.. And you can guess the end of this story. By this time by euphoria quickly reverted into anger/disappointment and just plain exhaustion!
- We had spent the last 24 hours going back and forth to JFK so we can have a nice quick getaway to sin-city.. was not meant to be..
- I went to return the unopened food to the place where I bought it and of course couldn’t get the refund.. I have to say the counter woman, really was amazing! She went through the stacks of discarded receipts trying to find the receipt I had asked her to throw away! No luck here! The lines were quickly backing up for other passengers, so I just gave up and another $20 gone..
My wife and I huddled/argued and decided that we were being told not to go to Vegas so we better just give up! So we did. We went to my sis-in-law’s house (I of course caught up on my lost sleep with along 6 hour nap) and off we were back home to NJ !
See I’m not the spur of the moment kind of person and everyone that knows Dad’s taxi can attest to that. I’m a planner and a very minimal risk taker. For the first time I decided to throw my gut instinct away and go for it.. Big mistake..
What I learned (for the umpteenth time):
- If you fly stand by, you are at the mercy of people not showing up and you getting on.
- If you fly stand by, fly on an airline that will give you favorable status on the stand-by line. My wife works for ******, so we should have flown on *****. Being stranded in Chicago, is much better than never getting off the ground!
- Always keep all receipts! Refer back to the food fiasco..
- If you fly stand by to hot locations (Vegas!), never ever fly on Fri-Sat.. You are setting yourself up for guaranteed failure, as millions of people fly on weekend sin city..
- Plan, Plan, Plan all contingencies!
- JFK Airport’s internal mode of tram’s is very impressive and reliable.. I’d never hesitate to park in long-term with the masses and take the train to the terminal.. Of course make sure you have your walking shoes!
- If you fly stand-by.. always take your vitamins and pray for seats!
This past summer, I traveled quite bit (Texas 4 times!), and was bumped once in St. Louis.. but never had to go home empty-handed!
Oh well at least I got myself a souvenir US Open 2011 T-shirt at a 25% break at the terminal! Yes! that’s the silver lining to this adventure I was looking for! I also got my aerobic exercise of daily 2 mile walks with my trips from the tram to the terminal at JFK!
Maybe, I’ll try next weekend for a Vegas Getaway.. I guess I just don’t learn do I? Have you ever flown stand by?