Traveling by plane is a sport


“Citius. Altius. Fortius.—Swifter. Higher. Stronger.” These words aptly apply to commuters at the airport seeking to catch their flights.

Just before Labor Day, millions of passengers found themselves racing to beat the clock in time for boarding as they find their way in the gargantuan terminals given the changing flight details exacerbated by extreme weather and abject shortage in airport staffers.

Swifter. One has to really move fast to get to the assigned gate. With heavy luggage in tow, one has to be strong too to be encumbered by these luggage.

And higher. Yes, to achieve getting to the skies, we have to deal with several challenges on the ground.

Take for example Newark International Airport in New Jersey last week. I was trying to get on a United Airlines flight. The day before, just before midnight, I received a message stating that the flight had been cancelled and United offered to reschedule the flight the day after. But I was operating on a tight schedule so I had to look for an alternate flight which I reluctantly chose because I did not have enough wiggle room should there be delays in my subway, PATH train, and NJ rail trips.

I made it to Newark two hours and a half before boarding. Luckily, there was a train on Track 4 that would take me to the concourse for the air train that would take me to the inner sanctum of the airport.

To make long story short, I made it in time. So, I sat there at the gate sipping a bottle of Coke Zero. I was frantically looking at the boards for flight changes. There it was: flight delayed for another hour. I was beginning to get nervous. I had an inkling I was bound for a major disappointment.

And I was right. Thirty minutes of waiting, the ground stewardess announced: Flight has been cancelled. Yes, my flight had been cancelled twice in 24 hours.

I was upset. Livid. Furious! Imagine all the hoops I had to go through to get to the airport only to be told that there was not going to be a flight after all.

But I was not alone. There were scores of passengers as equally upset as I was.

“There are no more flights today!” was all the passengers heard much to their horror. There was no offer of an accommodation nor a meal to mollify us. And I should be glad that I was able to get a refund?

If only the airlines could offer a substitute bus or train ride to another hub where passengers could be accommodated.

So, monumentally upset, I headed back to the city, spending more dollars for land trips. Thousands of travelers like me incurred unnecessary expenses because of a cancelled flight with nothing from the airline to make us whole.

Yes, flying is not for the faint of heart. Your blood pressure goes overboard as you race to find your gate. You stand in long queues waiting to be screened. And you could only get to breathe a sigh of relief once you get to your assigned gate to wait for the ground stewardess’ announcement that it is ready to board.

And on the train ride back to New York City, I told myself that it would be much better to have a staycation or just travel by Amtrak to the next destination. With Amtrak, I do not need to rush. I can just take my sweet time, relax, and enjoy the view.

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