Some of you may recall the comedian Alan King, who in 1965 made quite a name for himself doing a routine on the Ed Sullivan show during which he skewered Eastern Airlines, may it rest in peace. I don’t have a clip of that, but here is Alan in the sunset of his career chatting with David Letterman.
I was reminded of Alan’s routine this afternoon when the pilot got on the intercom of American Airlines flight # 4396 from Chicago to Newark, advising that we were in a holding pattern because of weather in Newark. After “holding” awhile, they finally announced we were being diverted to Allentown. Allentown? What’s there beside the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and a Billy Joel song?
So there we were, sitting on the tarmac through a series of announcements that would have been comical were they not so confusing. First the stewardess — and Barbara, someone really needs to give you a brush-up on customer service — announced that they would be bringing a bus to the plane in order to take those who wished to de-plane over to the terminal.
Visibly frazzled, Barbara came down the aisle with her printout of the passenger list, asking those who wished to de-plane to raise their hands. First she announced we would get our luggage, then awhile letter there was no guarantee we’d get our luggage. There was no word when we might expect to depart if we decided to stay on the plane. Then word came that there would be no bus to the terminal — the plane cold taxi over, but we had to wait until someone removed the stairway that had been put in place for the bus. The mixed messages only deepened the quandary for passengers, some of whom broke out into this Clash song:
We made a reservation with Hertz to rent a car and drive from Allentown to NJ, but just as we de-planed to go into the terminal, they made an announcement at the gate that we’d be re-fueling and taking off to go to Newark. And we did, and I got some nice shots from the air during the 20 minute flight from Allentown. Consensus is that these small flights, that can be diverted to smaller airports to give Newark air traffic some wiggle room to figure out what to do with the traffic jams these days, are inevitably the ones who will be delayed or diverted. Air travel has really become a cr*ap shoot these days …