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The Unfriendly Skies

This author hasn't had the best luck the last few times she's flown.

 

WARNING:  DO NOT FLY ON JUNE 2!! I can predict with greater certainty than the Farmer’s Almanac that on that day there will be some type of major weather event or unnatural occurrence which will lead to unprecedented delays. How do I know this? Because I’m flying on that day.


I think back to Christmas Eve 2010. As my daughters and I were enjoying our filet mignon and potatoes au gratin at my best friend Liz’s house, I had my eye on the Weather Channel app on my phone. For those who don’t know me, I am a weather junkie.  Nothing excites me more than tracking a line of thunderstorms on Doppler radar.  With my phone app, I can get my fix whenever I want.  But this time I wasn’t doing it for the sheer joy; there was talk of a blizzard arriving the day after Christmas- yes, the day my girls and I were supposed to fly to Florida. Santa wasn’t the only one up all night; Jim Cantore, (the Weather Channel anchor) and I were up all night too. Around 5:00AM I made the decision that we needed to get out of New York asap. I called Jet Blue and rescheduled our flight for just a few hours later.  That was the easy part. The hard part was dragging my daughters out of bed at the crack of dawn. I needed them to pack fast, and we needed to go!! They tried to convince me it was sacrilegious to fly on Christmas. I reminded them we’re Jewish.


The next time I flew it was hurricane season.  Now being a weather fanatic, I particularly love hurricane season so I can watch the Tropical Updates at 10 minutes before  the hour. I track hurricanes from the time they’re just a tropical wave off the coast of Africa. Hurricane Irene was no exception. The track was uncertain, but it seemed a pretty good bet it was going to make landfall in South Florida on the EXACT DAY Julie and I would be landing in West Palm Beach. But with hurricanes there’s always that cone of uncertainty, so like an obsessed lunatic I watched that station until I was convinced the hurricane was going to miss Florida. We were able to go. We got “lucky”.  


It started as an ordinary flight.  The pilot explained the flight plan was
altered slightly so we wouldn’t run into the hurricane and we should have a
nice, easy, smooth flight. We were next for take-off. The plane was picking up
speed when suddenly it came to an abrupt halt. “Ladies and gentleman, we are sorry for the inconvenience but JFK has been indefinitely closed” HUH??? Good
thing Jet Blue has TV’s so we were able to see on CNN that there had been an
earthquake in Washington DC.


  I called my mother, “Ma, there was an earthquake.” 


“OH MY GOD!!  OH MY GOD!! GO HOME !! DON’T COME!! GET OFF THE PLANE NOW AND GO HOME!!!”

 

“Ma, we weren’t IN the earthquake, we’re just delayed and I’m calling you because I don’t know how long we’re going to sit here. They’ve closed the airport”

 

“OH MY GOD!!! HOW’S JULIE?? IS SHE OK??”

 

Ma, Julie hasn’t looked up from her Sudoku book. She’s fine”


Then my phone lost the call. Not because of the service, but because the day before I dropped my brand new Blackberry in the toilet and was reduced to using an old phone which was only a notch above one by Fisher Price.

 

Anyway, we FINALLY got to Florida very late, and the next day I turned on the weather channel, curious as to where Irene was headed. Last I heard it was supposed to make landfall in the Carolinas, possibly veering off into the Atlantic. Well, that had all changed.  Now it appeared, the hurricane was headed straight toward Long Island. As a matter of fact, the eye looked like it was going to pass over the very block I lived on in Massapequa, which happens to be by the water and an evacuation zone. SHIT!

 

“Ma, Julie and I have to go home! I have to prepare my house for the hurricane!”

 

And back home we went.

 

I’m not through. The next time I flew was the end of September. Gabby and I were going to visit my mother for the Jewish Holidays.  It was a beautiful, sunshiny day.  What could possibly go wrong? Let me make a long story short. There were severe thunderstorms surrounding us which were spawning tornados.  All the flight paths (“highways in the sky” as the pilot put it) were closed. I didn’t know they could close the air, but apparently they can. SIX HOUR DELAY!

 

So in the last three consecutive times I have flown, I encountered a blizzard, a hurricane, an earthquake and tornados. What are the chances of that?  I’m not sure, but if I were you, I’d stay home on June 2.



 



 

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Nicholas Koliarakis June 27, 2012 at 03:36 AM
My brother and I made trips together a few years back to Brazil (2008) and Greece (2009) to see relatives in both places. On the way to Brazil, we faced an endless delay getting out of JFK because of weather issues in Atlanta, where we were to board our connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro. Waiting in the terminal for God knows how many hours is no fun. IIRC, we were put on the plane a couple of times and then had to be brought back with a "people mover" thing at least one of those times. Once we got on the plane to Rio de Janeiro and were airborne, a 757 IIRC, I look over to the other aisle and I see a man looking EXACTLY like...Osama Bin Laden – same height, same beard, turban and all! And no, I am NOT kidding! Anyway, we made it down to Rio safely. On the way back, we got to Atlanta on schedule, but now had to endure a long wait because of bad weather in New York! We got back to our house at 10:15 PM that night (with both of us due back at work the next day!). Descending to JFK, the clouds were SO dark and foreboding that it looked like we were descending into the depths of “H-E….double hockey sticks”!
Nicholas Koliarakis June 27, 2012 at 03:40 AM
The Greece trip was even more difficult. Our flight was due to leave JFK circa 3:30 PM and ended up leaving almost 12 hours later! We got on the plane, had to wait for rain and an electrical storm to subside, then we queued up only to find out right before takeoff that the electrical generators on the plane were not working. We were shipped back to the terminal where they were showing nothing but highlights from Michael Jackson’s funeral that day on the TV. Then, we got back on the plane I think it was at 1 AM, only to find out that all the food had gone bad and they had to wait for new food! Then, the captain had to get more food for I think it was the first class passengers. Finally, at about 3:25 PM, we finally took off to applause from the passengers. Although I like kids, it was not particularly pleasant once airborne to hear one kid scream so loud and so often that it could shatter eardrums! In fairness, the poor kid had to have been tired. We landed at sunset in Athens (our arrival time was supposed to be 9 AM) and our driver Panayiotis (who is friends with my cousin) was waiting for us. He drove us to the hotel and my brother and I checked in. Then Panayiotis brought us out to dinner. On the way back to the hotel, his car broke down. He had to call one of his friends to take us back. Panayiotis apologized but my brother told him half-jokingly/half-serious “No, it’s our fault that we brought you our bad luck!!”.

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