Thursday, July 11, 2013

A few anecdotes from the airport/departure

  • The humidity continued to rise as we drove from Teaneck to JFK International Airport. As we were getting close to the curb at Terminal 4, it starts to pour and I had four bags (suitcase, bowling equipment, briefcase, and backpack) to navigate. I make my way inside and the terminal has now become a quasi-sauna -- even the birds flying around were seeking refuge somewhere. Oh what a start ...
  • I got through the interrogation with no problem and approached the check-in counter. My ticket is printed and the agent (Anna) asks how many bags I'm checking; I reply two. She asks me to put the heaviest bag on the scale, which is my equipment bag. When the scale registers 31kg (which is about 65 lbs.), Anna says the words you hate to hear in any situation: I need to call my supervisor. Really?!? This wasn't even security and already my bowling balls were creating an issue! Anna's supervisor said I would have to pay the overweight baggage fee; I explained that we had worked out with Gil Travel that we can bring bowling equipment that exceeds the standard weight limit. Anna then called her supervisor again, who comes to the counter, goes back to his station, and then gives his approval. Whew!
  • Athletes are gathering at the gate along with other passengers who are lucky enough to be on our flight. When boarding begins, it's every man and woman for themselves as we just queued up and made our way to the front of the line. No greeting over the intercom and no boarding by row or section. I just saw someone wave their hand and say "it's time, let's go." It was probably more chaotic as the "line" flared out but I bypassed the pack on the right side and made my way through the checkpoint. Next destination, seat 52D (a coveted aisle seat, for those keeping score at home).
  • Finally, we were scheduled to depart at 7 p.m., which comes and goes and we have not moved from the gate. 7:10, 7:15, still nothing. Finally we start moving, but we're talking inches (ok, maybe feet, this is a 747 after all). Around 7:30 p.m., the pilot gets onto the intercom and announces, in Hebrew, that we're number 25 in line to depart. I react and then the pilot remakes the announcement in English, at which time most of the plane reacts. Even though the flight attendants asked us to remain seated, it was a lost cause as athletes got up to get something from their bag or chat with one another to pass the time. Finally, around 8:05 p.m., we take off ... no announcement or warning for flight attendants to be seated and prepare for take-off. We just get to the front of the line and go ... "hurry-up-and-wait" is in full effect. Now it's time for the Maccabiah!

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