02JUL BOS-CVG-CLE 06JUL CLE-CVG-BOSI really had not intended to write a report for a trip of this length. The flights are rarely long enough to even get the laptop out, never mind list all of the non-existant meal options. But this trip was far from the standard "got on the plane, flew, got off the plane, walked around the hub, got on another plane, flew, got off and met my parents" which we usually experience on the way to Cleveland.
DL 1007 BOS-CVG, scheduled dep BOS 1730 arr CVG 1955
We took our favourite (and cursed) way from Cambridge to Logan: T (Red Line) from Kendall Sq to Downtown Crossing, change for the bus (459) to Logan. We made good time and got to Downtown Crossing early (not early enough to catch the previous bus, of course!). The 459 was scheduled to depart Downtown Crossing at 1605 and arrive at Logan Terminal C (its only stop at Logan) at 1620. The bus went down past South Station, past the World Trade Center, and through the Ted Williams Tunnel (aka the "Teddy"). Traffic was a bit slow past the World Trade but the tunnel flowed well.
I say the bus trip is "cursed" because the last time we took this route was when we went to England in January. That time our flight was cancelled due to weather. Knowing what's happened with the two times we've taken this route, I might reconsider before taking this route again! I later found out that the public transit alternative (Blue Line subway) had broken down just when we would have been trying to get on it, so I guess that cursed is better than no transportation at all.
The bus came to the end of the tunnel and slowed down a bit. We came around the last corner (the Teddy being more modern than the Sumner & Callahan, neither of which have corners) to see ... traffic! And it was barely moving! It took ten minutes from the end of the Teddy until we actually rolled into Terminal C. I've seen holiday traffic before, but this was NUTS!
The terminal was mobbed, and I was VERY glad of our short check-in-line Medallion perq (baggage check in line was very long, but the First/Medallion line was very short!). The agent had a hard time printing out baggage tags for our bag (the computer kept spitting out two bag claim tags for our one bag), and eventually gave up after two tries and used another computer. My boarding pass said "bags 02" even though I had just checked one.
It was 1645 at this point and we made a quick stop at Burger King. Bag of food in hand, we quickly cleared security and headed down to the gate, C33, at the right-hand side of the hammerhead. The gate was mobbed (mostly due to the gate next door, C31, being under construction). We sat down for a few minutes and managed to eat most of our dinner before first class boarding was called. We stood up at that point anticipating Medallion call immediately thereafter (it USUALLY is!). Five minutes go by and the gate agent announced that the "plane was still being catered", which caused the delay in boarding. Cleaned I could see, but catered? It was a SkyDeli flight for goodness sake!
Delay over, it was about 1710 when Medallion Boarding was called. C and I squeezed past the hordes of lower echelon frequent flyers who like to clog up the gate area (no matter how many times DL asks pax to remain seated before boarding, they never seem to listen) and boarded - we were second in the coach cabin to board, assigned seats 23B&C. Boarding was a madhouse, typical for a full flight (and I was not surprised to find this flight was full. It was a holiday weekend after all!). The person in seat 23A boarded right behind us, so we didn't even have to get up to let her sit down.
We had picked up our SkyDeli bags, and once we sat down we looked at them. A pair of Sesame snack sticks and a chive & cream cheese dip, bag of potato chips, oatmeal raisin cookie, an apple, and a bottle of water. Really, I preferred the Turkey Sandwich. Oh well! We tucked in and soon made short work of our respective snack bags.
Scheduled departure time of 1730 came, and so did an announcement from the captain. He said that lightning had hit the Air Traffic Control Center (which I presumed meant Logan. I was wrong, actually, but more on that later :-) and that we weren't able to push back. He said he'd get more information and come back and tell us.
I read the Boston Globe (that took all of ten minutes), and then got permission from the FA to visit the lav. While I was in the lav, the FAs made an announcement with more information. Turns out the problem was at the Nashua (NH) regional control center and not at Logan (this surprised me, as Logan must have a much taller tower than Nashua. But I guess the storms were in Nashua and not Boston!). The FAs started walking up and down the aisles picking out people telling them that they weren't going to make their flight (some people with a very tight, <40 minute, connection at Cincinnati). I wasn't concerned, actually. Due to what I'm sure was a full flight, we actually did not have assigned seats on the Comair flight we were scheduled on from CVG-CLE. I also knew there was a later flight.
I asked for permission to deplane so I could call my parents and tell them we were going to be late. The FA said no, since she thought we might leave any minute. Ten minutes later, the cabin crew started up a movie. I approached a different FA who gave me permission to deplane. I ran off, the gate agent took my boarding pass, and I called my parents. I also stopped by the gate agent and asked her to put a booking in for C and I on the later CVG-CLE flight as insurance. She said it was wide open and booked two seats for us.
I got back on board and sat down, deciding to write this trip report. After a little while, I realized I had not gotten my boarding pass stub back from the gate agent. I went up to try and get off and get it, but they had stopped letting passengers off of the plane. A flight attendant promised to get the stub back for me (I never got it back, actually).
Update as of 1848, Captain said that all routes out of the airport are closed, except those going due south (why the airlines weren't all just taking off due south and then changing routes when they got there is beyond me). Not long after, he anounced that we'd been cleared to push back. People who had managed to get off the plane came rushing back, but before they could all sit down, we'd been told to "hold" again.
I ended up hanging around the galley answering some basic questions ("no Delta won't pay for your hotel", "Cincinnati has cheaper hotels than Boston", "the first flight to Seattle leaves Cincinnati tomorrow at TIME"). The FAs were pretty happy with me (I even ended up handing around water). I very much appreciated the way the FAs handled the weather situation (and I later told them that). One of the five did become a little short, but all in all they were a very competent and clear group. The one thing they did not do was announce on the PA that Delta wouldn't pay for a hotel in Cincinnati. (I can understand why, but I might have made a different decision if I had to make the announcement).
2015 and we're announced that we're pushing back. It actually took a bit longer to push back than it should, because the Virgin 747-200 was in front of us. We taxied out with final takeoff at 2140, arrival time at Cincinnati estimated for 2240. Departure for Cleveland was scheduled for 2255. Yikes! I had to pray to the gods (or my Delta Guardian Angel, who couldn't do anything about it, but honestly, I think looks over us on all of our flights) that the flight arriving from BOS and the flight leaving for CLE would be near to each other. Not that I can't sprint the B concourse if given the chance (the later flight was a real DL flight, as opposed to the originally booked flight. DL flights at that time of night are all on the B concourse of CVG. Comair flights operate out of concourse C at CVG, a bus ride away from the B concourse).
The first part of the flight was quite bumpy, but that didn't last long (the 757 climbs quite quickly!). When we reached 27,000 the captain came on the PA and pointed out the weather to the left side of the aircraft causing all of the problems. It was nasty - grey angry clouds with lightning. But our flight was actually quite calm, and our cruising altitude was only quoted as 31,000 feet. As it got darker (later in the flight), I could see quite a bit of lightning.
We touched down at 2237, on runway 27, and taxied over to Concourse B. The flight attendants had said they had no gate connection information (dammit), but as we pulled into our gate (B20) we noticed an MD80 on either side of us (the CLE flight was scheduled as MD80). Would we be lucky? The seatbelt light went off at 2240 and C and I went and stood by Door 2L. I stuck my head into first class looking at the window to figure out what door we'd be leaving from. Karma was with us - 2L it was. The jetway was pulled up and the gate agent knocked. The FA was too busy jabbering on the phone (I even asked if I could give the thumbs up, the DL sign of "all clear"). She hung up and gave the thumbs up. The door was open and we pushed past the gate agent at a flat run. He shouted past us "what flight?" and we said "626, Cleveland", he yelled "B9!".
Off we went! We each had a backpack and C had a small totebag. We sprinted down the two moving walkways, and then past the food court. I ran out of breath (curse my non-functional lungs!) and had to stop running but C kept going. He reached B9 about 1 minute before me, and had the gate agent print out the boarding passes. We boarded at 2245, going back to 35D&E (just past the aft galley). I just had time to make a trip to the lav and then we pushed back at 2251. We taxied back to runway 27 and took off.
DL 626 CVG-CLE, scheduled dep CVG 2250 arr CLE 2347
One of the FAs made the announcement that this was fastbreak service. Flights of this length (CVG-CLE is just 37 minutes in the air) are made for fastbreak. Pre-chilled lemonade, pineapple juice, and apple juice, plus water. They give you the bottle and a bag of snack mix plus a napkin. By the time the two FAs made the trip through the plane to give out drinks, the seatbelt light had come on again for descent. They quickly cleaned up and we landed at 2345. We taxied to B6 and deplaned. My heart had actually slowed by that point (it was beating quite quickly from a combination of the run and me taking my albuterol inhaler).
We went to baggage claim and our bag did not come off first. I left C to watch to see if it came out and went to the baggage service office. There were a few people in front of me, all of who seem to have lost their bags coming Birmingham (AL) - Atlanta - Cleveland (the flight was late into Atlanta and the woman in front of me said "I had barely any time to change planes!". I said "I had eight minutes to make my connection", and she shut up :-). I filed the baggage report (the bag agent said they'd deliver my bag! I had presumed that I would have to make a trip back to CLE for it) and managed to get the last two emergency kits. We went out to the curb and met my father who had arrived just two minutes before.
The baggage agent promised that the bag would be delivered before 1:30pm on Saturday Jul 3. Of course, we were out then, so before we left I stuck a big yellow note on the front door of my parents' house instructing the delivery person on where to leave the bag (the baggage agent at CLE had asked me where, but I didn't want to leave anything to chance). When we returned ~1530, the bag was indeed waiting on the porch (my parents live out in the sticks so I was not concerned about it being stolen or even rifled through. If somebody wanted to steal my clean underwear, they were welcome to).
DL 5530 CLE-CVG, scheduled dep CLE 1745 arr CVG 1845
DL 1010 CVG-BOS, scheduled dep CVG 1925 arr BOS 2147
We left my parents' office for CLE (Hopkins Int'l) in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. I spent quite a few years of my childhood in the midwest and I know how these July storms can be. The sky gets gray & dark, and the wind picks up, then it "chucks it down" (English phrase!) for about 20 minutes, and then the weather clears up, the grey sky blows through, and everything is okay. The storm had been going on about 25 minutes when we left my parents' office, so I was optomistic that it would blow through by the time we reached Hopkins (especially since we were driving from the east side to the west side airport).
We arrived at CLE at 1645. DL had a flight (DL2208) which was scheduled to depart from CLE at 1700 arriving at CVG 1801. I figured if we were 15 minutes early, we had a shot at it. We said goodbye to my parents (they had dumped us at the curb as usual) and proceeded inside to find the line from hell. One glance at the board behind the desk confirmed my worst fear - both DL 2208 and OH 5530 were cancelled! I had anticipated a delay (due to weather), but DL never dispatched the equipment up from Cincinnati.
We got in the First/Medallion line (this line saved our life again), and were just third in line. The regular line had at least 100 people in it (the passengers wound through the corral and down the concourse). 1.5 agents were staffing First/Medallion while 3.5 agents were staffing the normal line.
At this point, C had a brainwave. He suggested we call DL special member services to see what they could do for us. I rang them up and got a very good agent who made me two offers: (1) DL 1809 dep CLE 2040 arr CVG 2138, connecting to DL 2092 dep CVG 2255 arr BOS 0052+1 and (2) CO 1874 dep CLE 1742 arr BOS 1928. Hm, easy choice! I requested the second option, and she put me on hold while she "requested the seats". She came back to say we were confirmed on the flight, and that we still had to go to the DL ticket counter to get our paperwork done. C hadn't gotten out of line (see my last trip report on the plusses of travelling with C), so we managed to split the duty quite nicely.
The DL agent was a bit harried and didn't know what gate the CO flight left from. We headed straight to the CO concourse (we had planned to check a bag with DL but since we didn't know where we'd be going we elected to keep our smallish duffle bag with us figuring we could always check it at the gate if we had to). The monitor outside the C concourse (CO's concourse at CLE) informed us that CO 1874 was scheduled to depart from C1, the closest gate to the security checkpoint in the C concourse!
We checked in at 1710, the expected boarding time. I asked the agent how late we'd be and she said there was no "known" delay. Well, the rain was chucking it down (again), so I expected a delay. CO did a really lousy job of informing us passengers what was going on. One announcement would have been nice, but even by 1736 (a mere 6 minutes before scheduled departure), nothing had been said. Honestly, I don't mind a weather delay, but I *do* mind not being told what is going on. At least "delayed indefinitely" would have helped!
At 1742 they finally made an announcement saying there was an indefinite weather hold. Many people left the gate area (idiots) to make phonecalls. A few minutes later, the agent made another announcement saying that not only was CLE under weather, but BOS was on a "ground stop" (although she didn't indicate what that meant, I would guess weather in BOS but who knows?!). The agent said the soonest we'd be likely to go was 1830 but warned people not to stray far from the gate (although most of the idiots had already strayed!), and to check back every 15 minutes. I sent C off on a food run. I guess it could have been worse. A CO MD80 and CO 737 were stuck out on the taxiway, not moving one way or the other. I'd rather be stuck in the terminal than on the taxiway! I have no idea why they were stuck out there. Was CO out of gates at the terminal? Was it dangerous to move them in case of nearby lightning? Shades of NW at DTW ....
One of the minuses of 1999: being forced to overhear other people's conversations. This one guy in the gate sat and gave gory details of his health trouble to his cellular phone (and thus to most of us in the gate area). The CO MD80 previously stuck on the taxiway turned around and went back to a gate. Perhaps it was running away from the loud cellular guy...
1830 came and went with no announcement (at 1840 I went up and harassed the gate agents), ditto for 1900. Just after 1915 an announcement was made that we might go at 2000. I went up and asked the gate agent who admitted that the flight had "almost been cancelled", and that there was a later flight to BOS. At the next gate over (C3), there was a flight to DCA which had been cancelled, and CO accomodated all of the connecting pax on the later flight to DCA while stranding the O+D pax. I didn't want that to happen to us!
While sitting at the gate we noted some fire trucks and ambulances going across the taxiway at full speed with lights on. However, since the jetway was blocking a view of the B concourse (where it seemed the vehicles were heading towards), there was no way of seeing the happenings (if any). One of the nuns who was sitting next to my ex-husband, C, and I in the gate area went to investigate (who's going to say "no" to a nun? :-).
1930 and still nothing, so I go off to call my parents to warn them that they might be coming back to get us. While I was at the payphone, the guy at the phone next to me said they were boarding for Boston, so I hung up on my mother and rushed back to C1. C was all ready & waiting, and we boarded, sitting in 23B&C (CO 737-300s only go back to row 25).
During the boarding process, a guy from further up the plane came back and tried to settle in row 25. The FA sent him back, telling him that seat changes were not permitted until after takeoff (?). Even after the boarding door was closed, the FA still wouldn't let people move (although some of them *did* move without the FA noticing :-).
We pushed back at 1952, 2hr10min late. We taxied out past several waiting planes (did we get priority because we were later than them?), and out to the runway. Just before takeoff the captain informed us that the flight would be 1hr and 15 min in duration. That doesn't seem like a very long flight. Perhaps it was tailwinds? Takeoff was just before 2000, with approximate landing in Boston at 2115 and gate at 2120.
This was a snack flight (late for 2000, but right "on time" for 1730). The snack served was a tiny turkey sandwich (with exactly four slices of deli meat), a bag of Doritos, and a small pack of Crispy M&Ms, plus the obligatory mayonnaise and napkin. No inedible apple! Not long after handing out the snacks (which the FA did cartless), the two coach FAs came around to hand out drinks. I took note that CO still offered Dr Pepper (unlike DL, who has signed an exclusive beverage deal with Coke, boo hiss). We each had a glass of lemonade. The FAs did not seem to be handing out full cans of soda to those who had soda (our lemonade came out of a big 1/2 gallon cardboard carton).
The Captain came on the PA at 2106 saying we were going to be late in, just a few minutes, aiming to land at 2130 and to dock at the gate at 2133. We landed from the west (over the sewage plant) and it was just before 2130 when we touched down. We taxied past South Cargo with a whole load of FedEx DC-10/MD-10s.
DL did very well with the weather delay but I was not happy with CO. Perhaps one of the more regular CO fliers can post whether that kind of non-information is typical for CO.
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