Perils of flying Stand By

Today, my younger daughter and I left early in the morning for a trip to visit my brother and his family. We decided to fly “stand by” since my wife had a few extra passes from her stint at an Airline she worked for last year.

We started our adventure in the wee hours of the morning (4:30 AM) from the suburbs of Middletown, NJ to Newark Liberty Airport in Newark. Being optimistic I figured with a changeover in St. Louis, we’d be arriving in Dallas by 10:30 AM Local time.. Wrong!

We got to St. Louis and that’s when our gate shuffle started. Our intended flight to Dallas was full and we were told to go another gate (10 Gates over) to try for the next connecting flight.. We get to the second gate and we are told by a very very nice gate agent that there is not much of a chance of us to get on THIS flight. Yet I have to tell you something, the gate agents at Southwest are one of the most helpful gate agents you will ever meet. Honest Truth!

They must have seen my pathetic and futile expression and the gate agent scoured all the flights that would enable me to get to my destination in the easiest manner. She sent us BACK to the gate we came from to get on another flight to Tulsa to connect to another (wide open) flight to Dallas! Yes! we were now back in business!

I have to tell you, the helpfulness of “Joy” was truly a joy for us. She fought with her stuck stapler and got us the necessary paperwork, so we could go back to our originating gate and get on the flight to Tulsa!

So we go back to Gate 10, and wait patiently as all the “paid” passengers board the flight to Tulsa.. With dread a sense of despair, I tell my daughter “Well I guess we will have to keep trying”. That’s when the gods of “stand by travel” shined on us.. We were the last 2 seated on the Tulsa flight! Year us!

We got to Tulsa, Oklahoma and jumped on the next connector flight to Dallas! Lucky for us, the Tulsa to Dallas flight was wide open! Oh Happy days!

We finally get to Dallas by 1:30 PM CST and the only casualty of this endless journey is one broken wheel on a checked bag in St. Louis!

Lessons to be learned from this adventure about the perils of flying stand by:

  1. Don’t travel stand-by during the summer months! You are guaranteed to get “bumped” on full flights.
  2. Leave plenty of time, for the fact that you are at the mercy of flights being full.
  3. Don’t travel on Monday’s! Monday is known to be one of the most heavy days for air travel with commuters and vacationers traveling
  4. Develop patience and accept the fact you will be sitting somewhere, waiting for some flight to open for you to travel on!
  5. Avoid stand-by Travel if at all possible!
  6. Pick locations that may be easy to get to.. the larger the city.. the less likely of success in stand-by travel.

Updated on 7/30/2012:

The follies continued on my way back to Newark from Dallas. I gotta tell you one thing, if you ever fly standby, you should never fly an airline that doesn’t have direct flights (Southwest). Don’t get me wrong, the Southwest employees are really helpful and sympathetic both on board and on the ground..

So thing about this trip. We started from Love Field in Dallas at about 8 AM and we landed   at Newark at almost Midnight. Yes 12+ hours for a trip that should normally take 3 to 4 hours if you flew direct!

Our original flight to Chicago (Midway) was sold out so we went to the next gate so we could find an alternate route. Even the gate agent was frustrated yet she finally got us on a flight to Houston, TX, so we could at least have a better chance of getting home as a stand-by passenger

So we get to Houston from Dallas and now we are looking for an alternate route. We get on a flight from Houston to St.Louis via Birmingham. Remember if you can get bumped at any stop! We got lucky and ended up at St Louis by Mid-Day and felt lucky.

We were put on a flight to Chicago (Midway) and we got there by Mid Afternoon. After about a 2 hour layover and a boarding pass for a Newark flight in our hand, we felt that we were almost there! Not!

Our flight to Newark was delayed by 2+ hours due to T-Storms in Newark area. Yes the news gets better and better!? so the flight that was to leave at 6:30 PM left at about 9 PM for our final destination: Newark NJ!

We finally arrived to Newark by Midnight! So our long journey for day into night was finally over!

‘We went from Dallas –> Houston –> Birmingham —> St. Louis —> Chicago –> Newark NJ in a period of 15 hours! We changed planes 3 times and I think we must have traveled over 3 thousand Miles! This journey took more time than a normal journey from US to India!

In all my years of traveling standby, this had to be the longest journey I ever had! All I could say was Wow! I think I am now a veteran of flying standby. If you ever fly standby:

  • Be flexible and leave yourself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B
  • Be prepared for detours!
  • Don’t travel during the Summer vacation times
  • Don’t travel during Monday or Saturday! Almost every day has a heavy load, but these 2 days happen to be the worst
  • Be nice to the Gate Agents. Almost everyone will empathize and try to get you on board if they can!
  • Get used to overpriced Airport Food!
  • Be prepared to Sit and wait!
  • Be prepared to walk from gate to gate to find an open flight!

Have you flown standby? If you have, I’d like to hear your story!

 

Natasha sings “My Immortal” with Evanescence!

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...
Image via CrunchBase
My dear friends, we need your support! Here’s a Mashup song “My Immortal” made today by my teenage daughter  Natasha (BharatBeat Idol) M with Evanescence. This is a Mashup contest on Facebook that Natasha has entered! Follow the link below and give her a big LIKE and a word of encouragement!!
http://www.facebook.com/Evanescence?sk=app_116272508446233&app_data=4549

As her proud Dad, please view the video on Facebook and vote for by giving a big thumbs up LIKE!

As you may know this 13 year old is quickly becoming a star in her community!

Dad

Black Monday – Possible of 300K of outages

I know everyone that reads Dads’ Taxi is very alert about Malware and virusus.

Tomorrow (Monday, July 9th) is when up to 300 thousand PC’s may go dark because of the “doomsday virus”. What does going dark mean? It mean you won’t be able to get on the Internet and update your Facebook status, or do ANYTHING on the internet.

Of course the media is hyping this possible situation to the max and trying to get everyone to be scared silly. Well on Dad’s taxi, we try to alleviate your concerns by providing you with links that were published on Yahoo that you can use to see whether your computer is/was infected. It takes 20 seconds of your time and any one of the links below will do the check for you.

The Taxi is providing these links as a courtesy to my legions of followers. Ok, the ten’s of follower’s I have!

Online security firms, Facebook and the FBI are offering free diagnostic checks for users whose computers may be infected. Here are links to several sites:

Malware check: http://dns-ok.us/

After you run the real time tester and you see the image below, your machine has been infected!

FBI: https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS

DNS Changer Working Group: http://www.dcwg.org/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-security/notifying-dnschanger-victims/10150833689760766

McAfee: http://www.mcafee.com/dnscheck

Keep in mind, this malware was discovered and and baddies that originated this malware were arrested. The information was excerpted from the following Yahoo News Site:

  • The problem stems from malware known as DNS Changer, which was created by cybercriminals to redirect Internet traffic by hijacking the domain name systems of Web browsers.
  • The ring behind the DNS Changer virus, discovered in 2007, was shut down last year by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Estonian police and other law enforcement agencies.
  • Because the virus controlled so much Web traffic, authorities obtained a court order to allow the FBI to operate replacement servers which allow traffic to flow normally, even from infected computers.
  • But that order expires Monday, when experts say infected computers will face an “Internet doomsday.”

An Andy Griffith tribute: The gentle sheriff of Mayberry was a shrewd, brilliant performer

I loved this tribute to Andy Griffith.. The video is a classic!

July 1, Start the second half of 2012, with new problems

I figured that the second half of 2012, would be better than the first half. I guess I was wrong. Yesterday, I spent all day at Great Adventure in Jackson NJ in the 100 degree temps with thousands of my closest friends. I took my daughter and her friend and of course everywhere I go, there will be something that happens to make the trip unique.

I failed in my job as the designated bag carrier and the follower of the girls

  1. Lost my girls when they got stuck on huge line using the “Flash  Pass”. I waited and waited for over an hour for them to return from the ride and when the didn’t return, I went to the other rides I “thought” they might be going to. Needless to say this was a very bad decision.
  2. My daughter’s BFF, lost her phone on the Superman ride, because we didn’t want to repeat #1. We’ll see if the park finds the phone when they sweep the grass where the phone fell.

At least nothing we do is without some adventure, especially when we are at Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. These follies pale in comparison to my day today, the first day of the second half of 2012.. Read on  for my car follies of June 1!

The day started well with a few hours of tennis with my buddies, but the fun ended quickly with the car issues that I got involved with right after Tennis. So think, I’ve already been playing a few hours of tennis when everything below happens in real time.. So much fun, such little time, for Dad’s taxi of life.. Onward and forward.

Today, my older’s daughter’s car (Nissan Sentra) died on the NJ garden state parkway about 15 miles from her destination. Of course, I decided to go see what I could do.. Knowing full well that I have zero auto mechanic skills, I anticipated the worst and of course I got it.

When I got to mile marker 103 on her car was indeed stalled on the shoulder. I got in and of course, the car started. I knew then and there, this was way too easy, knowing my luck and how mechanical things when they are in my hands. My daughter took off in my car and I decided to drive her car home..

Of course within a few miles of me driving the car, the car died again and I was stranded on the side of the road with no place to go and my “check engine” light telling me the obvious. Normal people would have just waited for a parkway tow, but I wanted to press my luck, to see just how stupid I could be. Of course within a few minutes the car starts again and I take off headed towards home (Exit 114 – Middletown NJ) or as they refer to in the parkway towing lingo – mile marker 113.5 on the service road headed north bound.

After making it to mile marker 113.5 after an hour from mile marker 103.7, I was within eyesight of escape from the parkway.. I knew, my car wouldn’t make it to the exit, so I called parkway tow and AAA to tow my car from the side road after exiting my purgatory on the Garden State Parkway.

After an hour, Parkway tow shows up and this is where my luck goes from bad to worse. The tow truck driver pulls up ahead and he tells me, “he himself is out of gas and he can’t help me”. So now both of us are on the side of the road disabled.

Then I made a brilliant decision. I guess the heat finally got to me. I decided to cancel my tow and make a run for the exit (about 1/2 mile away) with my car which starts and can go a few  miles (if I’m lucky) at a time. Aren’t you waiting with bated breath  what happens next?

I think the Sun God was shining on me (literally) and I was make it through the one lane exit and make it to place where I could wait for the AAA tow.. When I got to my final resting spot, I felt like I had just won the battle of my car.. My wife and daughter came by with a half bottle of water so I could hydrate.. Yes a half bottle of water. Don’t ask.. I didn’t.

So the wonderful AAA driver comes and gives me the “free” tow to the service station with my disabled car..I anticipate that over the next few days, I’ll be spending quite a bit of money so my darling daughter can be mobile and be able to drive her friends all over NJ.

Here’s the lesson of the day that I learned..

  • Always have an emergency kit in every car. Jumper cables, flashlights and whatever else that you may need to self diagnose your car issues.
  • Don’t sit in your car when you are waiting for Parkway Tow on the NJ Garden state Parkway, Stand safely on the passenger side, so you enjoy the cars whizzing by you at high speeds.
  • The “Check Engine” light is there to tell you, you have a problem buddy, fix it..
  • If you have any older car, make sure you have AAA. the one time you need a tow, it will pay for itself.

By the time I got home, needless to say I was peeved. Yet I really didn’t know who I was peeved at. My daughter (for not knowing whether her check engine light was on before yesterd), My wife (for bringing me a half bottle of cold water, knowing how long I was out there in the heatwave),  or myself for letting all of the above get to me.

There is a silver lining.. I was home safely with the water that was not drinkable (oh, I didn’t tell you about the water main break in Monmouth county that continue to cause a water emergency in Monmouth County!).

I decided to make this day complete, the best thing I could do was take a nap and jump into my pool and be entertained by my other daughter, who just wanted to have some pool fun with her dad! Of course doing this wiped out all the events of the day that really made my day an experience to be shared on Dad’s Taxi!

Let’s see how much it costs to get my older daughter on the road, because as you know, she will never use the spare mini-van (which also has a check engine light on), That of course is not “cool dad”.