Get Me to the Church on Time!
On Saturday Kate and I celebrated our ten year anniversary by renewing our vows in a Las Vegas “themed” wedding chapel. We were "re-married" by none other than the King himself. It felt strange getting married again and it felt even more bizarre to do so by a professional Elvis pastor (thankyouverymuch), but it was a lot of fun.
(Luckily it wasn't Windows Embedded powering the "best wishes" screen...)
Getting to Las Vegas
Getting to Las Vegas was different story and involved a complete farce facilitated by JetBlue.
The original plan was for us to meet Salt Lake City airport on Thursday evening where I would fly in from Boston and Kate from Seattle and then we would set off by car for Las Vegas first thing on Friday morning. Things started to go "pear shaped" early on Thursday when I heard that my 5pm Delta flight from Boston had been cancelled outright due to the poor weather over JFK.
Scrambling to find an alternative flight, I was able to book a JetBlue flight to SLC leaving at 7:10pm. When I arrived at the airport, I learned that flight was also cancelled and since there were so many other flights affected that day due to the major disruptions at JFK, all the Friday flights from Boston were sold out, including any in-direct routes I might take to SLC. To my despair, it looked like the earliest I could get to SLC was Saturday - the day I supposed to be getting re-married in Vegas.
Our only work-around was to meet in Vegas a day early instead. So we our changed our flights accordingly and booked an extra hotel room for that night. The new plan was for me to catch the last flight (JetBlue 8:00pm) from Boston to Vegas and Kate to change her flight from Seattle to Boston instead and then meet at the hotel in Vegas. The new plan meant we'd have to skip the planned road-trip south from SLC but we could still make the second road-trip up north to return to SLC - an acceptable downside given the circumstances.
JetBlue - fcuk you
While I was waiting to board, I heard over the speaker that my 8:00 plane was ready to go but we were waiting for our crew... they delayed from JFK. We were told that the crew was due to arrive at 8:10, so we should expect a 30 minute delay. At 8:30, were reminded why we were late (no crew) and should expect our crew to turn up "any minute now". At 9:00 I approached the desk to see if there was any news. To my horror, I found that the JFK flight that was meant to be carrying our crew hadn't yet left JFK. Now I was worried. The gate attendant tried to assure me and the other passengers who overheard our conversation that the JFK flight to Boston had not been cancelled and so our Vegas would go ahead (as far as he was concerned). I didn't believe him.
At 10:30pm, our crew finally turned up but sans a first officer. JetBlue didn't know where he was but announced that they were expecting him to turn up "any minute now".
An hour later and after plenty of irate customers had “shared their dissatisfaction” with the gate attendant, a replacement first officer turned up. Naturally, the atmosphere around the gate cheered up significantly. Then, just as we were ready to board, we saw the replacement first officer briskly exit the plane and head of down the terminal. As she did so, the gate attendant announced (whose credibility amongst the passengers had been eroded to less than zero by this point) that they had located the original first officer and we would be ready to board… "any minute now". That was at 11:30pm.
JetBlue had continued to stress during this entire shambles that if the flight was cancelled due to “reasons outside their control” that the passengers would not be entitled to a refund and that they would not be compensated for a hotel room / meal for their overnight stay. Passengers could however “re-book a new JetBlue flight at no cost”. But it wasn’t until I forcefully pointed out that at one point JetBlue had a full crew with the plane ready to go - and that JetBlue had made a decision to remove the replacement first officer because they believed the original first officer was able to join the flight, and therefore if the flight was to be cancelled that it had been cancelled so because of reasons within their control and that JetBlue would therefore be liable for refunds and hotels/meals. They didn’t have a choice but to agree with me on this.
After another 30 minutes (now 12:00am) and with customers now demanding the truth of the situation, the gate attendant announced that the original first officer would in fact be arriving from his flight at 1:00am and therefore our flight was due to leave at 1:20am, five hours later than originally advertised. No-one believed him and everyone was convinced that the flight would eventually be cancelled. A number of passengers (including me) were now looking for alternative options to get to Vegas that day (now Friday). However, astonishingly, the flight was not cancelled and we did eventually leave at this new time. They also announced that they would be refunding the full cost of the flight even though the flight would not be cancelled.
I finally arrived in Vegas at 5:00am and feeling very lucky to have done so. I was tired and irritated but I would “get to the church on time”.
What was so frustrating with the whole JetBlue episode is not so much that the flight was delayed (it happens) or that it was five hours delayed (extreme, but it happens) but that the communication by JetBlue throughout the process was so excruciatingly poorly managed, unprofessional and at times simply downright dishonest. Not flying JetBlue again if I can help it.
To finish off on a positive note, Vegas was great - it was Kate's first time there and we had a ball. The drive back was fun.
Here's to the next ten years!!!