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Return to Seattle

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

JetBlue Terminal 5, JFK

I wrote from JFK Sunday night in the early stages of the delay of our return flight to Seattle after nine days in Nantucket and New York. It was frustrating because there was no indication on the screens in the JetBlue terminal that our flight was anything other than on time. Only when we arrived at the gate, expecting to board in moments, did we discover that boarding for our 7:05 PM flight was delayed to 7:45 PM. And then we spent close to an hour unable to get our electronics to work. Phone calls and text messages wouldn’t go through, the 3G data connection on our iPhones wouldn’t work, the free JetBlue wi-fi wouldn’t connect. Eventually, wi-fi recovered and I wrote the post about our plight, after learning that boarding was delayed further to 8:30 PM.

Well, we did board starting at 8:30, and we pushed off from the gate around 9:00 or just thereafter. But we were destined not to take off until close to 11:00 PM. We sat for at least half an hour on the ramp, where we had been pushed out from the jetway, waiting to get released to the taxiway. According to the pilot, the traffic controllers were slowing down traffic, due at least in part to the stormy weather passing through. Plus, he explained, our initial delay was due to the plane having come in from Ponce, meaning it had to go first to the international arrivals building for passengers to go through customs before coming over to JetBlue’s Terminal 5.

Eventually, we were allowed to move onto the taxiway and get in line. After minutes of sitting, the pilot explained that we were in the queue, but what he called the “international push” was delayed by weather, as we were, and many of the planes ahead of us were part of that push. He estimated we were at best 15th in line and due to wait half an hour at the very least. Another 10-15 minutes, and then more news. The airport was changing runway direction, which meant we would have to move. A few more planes would be allowed to take off, then the rest of us would line up for 31 right rather than 4 left. Once the change was made, we would probably be getting off quickly, but that change would take some time.

I already told you the outcome: takeoff near 11:00. Once in the air, we were given an estimated landing time of 1:20 AM Seattle time, about three hours late. That turned out to be about right, with 1:30 AM arrival at the gate, 2:00 AM in the car, 2:30 AM at home. Which is to say, we got home at 5:30 AM New York time. It was an overnight flight, one we hadn’t signed up for. The only good news is that I was so tired on the plane that I got more sleep than I usually do when flying. When we walked in the door, Joel and Emma were sleeping. There was no one to greet us. But we were happy to be home at last.

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