Finally! After more than a year of planning, it was time for Jerry and I to head to Barcelona for the start of our 12-day Mediterranean cruise. The day started out nice and sunny. We got up, took Aggie to Paradise (the doggy daycare/boarding company we use), and headed home to finish packing.
In order to maximize our time in Barcelona before the cruise, I had booked an early afternoon flight from Orlando on Thursday with a connection in New York (JFK) for an overnight flight to Barcelona scheduled to arrive Friday morning. (The cruise departed on Sunday afternoon.) We headed to the airport, parked our car, checked in, ate some lunch, and waited. The flight was delayed once. Then, the weather turned bad. We weren’t too worried until the gate agent announced that, due to the inclement weather, our plane had been diverted to Tampa for re-fueling, resulting in about another hour delay. At that point, I knew we would never make our original connecting flight. All of the other passengers seemed to realize this, as well. The mad rush for the help desk was on.
For anyone who has never flown Delta before, in order to reschedule flights or to get any useful information or help once you are at the airport, you have to go to one of their help desk areas. The gate agents either aren’t authorized to, unable to, or unwilling to do anything other than check oversized carry on bags and hand out boarding passes. Sometimes, there are several people working the help desk. In our case, there was one person at the desk and several kiosks with phones to call customer service.
After spending about 30 minutes on the phone, the agent transferred us to a later flight out of JFK to Barcelona arriving Saturday afternoon. The new flight had an additional connection in Amsterdam; but had a short connecting time in JFK with our delayed arrival. The only other option was a connecting flight through Detroit. Ummm, no thank you.
Our plane finally arrived. Everyone boarded. We started to pull out from the gate. Yay! We were on our way. Then, we stopped. The Captain announced that, due to the weather delays, we wouldn’t be able to take off for another 45 minutes. Ugh! With the added delay, we were not going to be able to make our new connecting flight either. At that point, I recruited the help of my stepdaughter to get new flights booked while we were in the air. During our flight, she spent at least another 45 minutes on the phone to get us re-booked on another flight; but it wasn’t leaving JFK until early Friday evening. Ok. It wasn’t what we had planned. But, at least we would get to Barcelona Saturday morning. Or, so we thought.
Upon arrival at JFK, we had to check in for the Friday flight. Since it was an international flight, we were told that an agent had to verify our passport information in person. We could not check in online or over the phone. Off to the help desk. The storm front that had interrupted our travel had stretched all the way up the East Coast and affected travel in most of the major airports. Accordingly, when we got to the help desk, there was a long line of other stranded passengers ahead of us. After an hour of standing in line, it was our turn. The agent checked us in without even verifying the passport information. And, they wouldn’t give us any hotel or transportation vouchers. Since the delays were due to the weather, they weren’t obligated to provide us with anything. Grrr. We did buy travel insurance for the trip. So, we will probably be able to recover the cost of the hotel. But, that doesn’t forgive the attitude of the customer service agents.
After checking in, we found the hotel/car rental information desk. The woman working told us, basically, good luck finding a hotel room for the night; but that this one place, the Surfside 3 Motel might have rooms open. After a short wait in the taxi line and a short taxi ride, we arrived at the Motel. Upon entering the Motel, we were greeted by the night clerk who was situated behind plexiglass and a locked office door. Ok. It was probably just a bad part of town. Then, she asked us if we needed the room for the whole night. Jerry and I tried not to burst out laughing. Later on, I found out that they also rent rooms in 4 hour blocks. I guess that’s better than by the hour? This was the creepy looking hallway to our room:
Usually, we pack our toiletries in our carry on luggage. For some reason, this time we had both packed our toothbrushes in our checked luggage, which was being held hostage at the airport overnight. Jerry asked the clerk if they had any for purchase. She referred him to the vending machine. Here is what he found:
Oh my. At that point, there was nothing left to do but laugh. Thankfully, we had a fairly quiet room and didn’t hear any, umm, nocturnal activities. The room appeared to be pretty clean (relatively speaking). And, the Motel had a shuttle to the airport. So, it wasn’t all bad.
Friday morning we took the shuttle from the Motel to the airport. We ate lunch and sat around waiting for our flight to leave. Again, our flight was delayed several times. Eventually, we boarded the plane and were sitting at the gate waiting. Then, we were told that one of the pilots had to be replaced at the last minute due to a death in the pilot’s family. And, the new pilot had to come over from La Guardia. In the end, our flight took off more than 4 hours late. By the time we arrived in Barcelona it was about 30 hours later than planned. Additionally, our checked luggage arrived in Barcelona soaking wet. Luckily, the hotel we were staying at had a clothes dryer they let us use.
Needless to say, we are not huge fans of Delta right now. I understand that Delta can’t control the weather. However, they can control the level of customer service they provide to their customers. For the most part, the agents I dealt with were rude or useless or unwilling to help. And, the flight attendants on the way over to Barcelona were not much better. I can honestly say that it would take a lot to get us to fly Delta again…ever.
However, the rest of the trip went great! So, the rest of my posts will be much more positive. And, I’ll have more pictures of all of the sites.