Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Blame Canada or The Perils of a Flight Bought With Points

While we had our break on Yom Kippur I looked up at the blue sky wondering how our Tefillot were faring up there. Who would have known that some 12 hours later I would be sitting on the side of the road outside Ben Gurion airport looking up at the star filled sky…….

What began as an uneventful evening would quickly become unforgettable.

Monday Night
Yom Kippur went well. The davening at Nafka Mina was amazing and probably thanks to that, I fasted as well as I ever have. We started Neilah at 4.30 and finished smack bang at 6.

Got home and we had 90 minutes to get everything done before our ride to the airport arrived. With a lot of babies on the plane and only two bassinets we had to get there extra early to ensure getting one of them.
Was hectic but we managed to be ready by the time our ride game and traffic to the airport was very light so arrived there at 8.30, some three and a half hours before departure.

Originally I was going to be sitting 18 rows behind Mrs Co.Il and YM but Gila the lovely check-in girl was able to make me the row behind. She got us the bassinet as well as checking our luggage all the way through to Newark. My ticket came on points so instead of flying direct we were going Air Canada to Toronto and then AC again to Newark. Leaving TLV midnight on Monday night and arriving at EWR on Tuesday morning.

After checking in had a bit of time to kill and wondered around looking at the litany of duty free places at the airport. You have to love Israeli’s and duty free – a somewhat symbiotic relationship.

Its about time now that we started boarding and we are now sitting by the waterfall looking up at the big boards which is a good test of your geography ability trying to guess where places such as Ljubljana (Slovenia), Anatolia (Turkey) and Dubrovnik (Croatia) are.

Waiting and waiting but our flight still hadn’t begun boarding so we decided to wonder down there anyway. Just waiting and all seemed calm until there was an announcement over the loudspeaker.

“Sorry to say this but your flight has been cancelled tonight. You will all be put on a new one in the morning.”

Well suffice to say that pandemonium broke out. Everyone was running around shouting, yelling and screaming. Worse, everyone thought they could solve everything simply by stating their case.

Rude passenger: Can I get on the plane?
Besieged Stewardess: No. It isn’t here.
RP: Can you put me on another one?
BS: There isn’t another one.
RP: Grunt.

Imagine this replayed 100 times in the space of 3 minutes and at 250 decibels.

After a few minutes they told us we could either be taken back to our homes or to a hotel. It had to be the latter. What was the point of going back to Jerusalem? So we were going to the hotel.

Israeli 1: Which hotel are they taking us to?
Israeli 2: The Sheraton.
Israeli 3: No it's the Sheraton-Hilton.
Israeli 2: Yeah. There.

So we would go to the hotel, only problem was that we would have to go and pick our bags up. Not sure why. They had already cleared security so why couldn’t they just wait there till the morning and then put on the new flight?

Airport Guy 1: The flight to Toronto is cancelled. Should we put all their bags in Holding Room 22 for the night.
Airport Guy 2: No. Shmulik has the key and I can’t bother chasing him up. Make them pick up their bags and we’ll tell them its security.

So we picked up the bags and then headed up to the place where we told the bus would be. With four bags as well as a baby we weren’t so mobile as the others. By the time we got up there the bus had gone leaving us and about 50 others waiting around for a new one.

And this was where the night got really interesting. Think Survivor meets Lost – except Israeli version.

It was at this point I realized that Israelis are like assholes - everyone has an opinion. And they’re not shy in letting you know it.

Everyone there has there own back story and in the beginning they were just some random passenger but after a while you get to know the back story.

*Like the kid who was flying back for his sister’s wedding the very next day and was now going to miss some of it. Not sure why anyone would have a wedding the night after Yom Kippur but still.

*The guy who was flying with his 3 year old son and had to juggle the sleeping boy on his shoulder with his luggage.

*The couple who couldn’t find one of their bags and the missing bag in question contained all of their 6 month son’s luggage and diapers.

Like Lost, the different personalities emerged as did who the leaders were.

No one from Air Canada was with us so we were left to conjecture on what was happening. One lady suggested forming a blockade on the street and another suggested a sit-in. Finally a lady from Air Canada emerged and she was quickly surrounded like a school of piranhas feasting on fresh meat. The lead piranha was a guy wearing a yellow polo who I dubbed Tony Soprano.

Why was this so? He carried on like he was running the shows. His wife was decked out in her faux jewellery and big beehive do. His slut daughter was wearing a dress with absolutely no back and his father was there acting like Uncle Junior.

Tony tried to push his weight around and intimidate the poor girl but that only resulted in freaking her out and her running away.

Eventually the tribe spoke and some decided to head back into the airport. A few of us stragglers remained outside waiting for the bus. After about 15 minutes someone from that group returned saying how we could get off the island if we followed them to were the bus was going to be.

We went there and the bus was just pulling in. Unfortunately a bus which could fit 30 people only had enough space for luggage for 10. So the bus came and went and we were still waiting. It was now around 2am.

The poor guy who was looking for his son’s luggage was going out of his wits looking for his son’s bag.

So this is how it was I was sitting by the side of the road looking up at the stars. After 20 minutes we were told the bus was there – only problem it was where we were before. So we schlepped back up to where we had been waiting.

Tuesday Morning
Got onto the bus at about 3am and made our way to the Sheraton. Got to our room, had showers and even watched some Monday Night Football. Then someone knocked on the room. Who was it? Someone who had been given the same room as us?!?!
Then the phone rang. Who was it? Someone asking us if we had bags in our room which weren’t ours? What next?

Woke up at 6.15 – davened and then went down for some breakfast.

So now back at the airport ready to check in. Good news is that we are at the head of the line and Gila is back again to check us in. Bad news are that the computers are having a problem in regard to the connections and we can’t check our bags all the way through to Newark.

Highlights of the flight to Toronto:
What is it with Israelis and standing on the plane? They can’t sit down? They can’t turn off their cell-phones?
YM was a charm in the midst of a lot of screaming kids.
An all-male flight crew of which 95% were raging.
Watching the Sentinel which was basically seeing Keifer Sutherland reprise the role of Jack. There were no individual screens so the choice was pretty poor.
The lost luggage was found. Some 80 year old had taken it by mistake. He opened the bag but he thought it was his when he saw the diapers.
There was some light to moderate clapping when we landed.

As we got off the plane I saw the setting sun and couldn't believe that it was only one sunset since Neilah the day before. Felt like we aged 20 years in the previous day.

At Toronto we had to check-in and who should be next to us at the next counter but the Sopranos! And where we they trying to get to? Las Vegas! Funnier thing was that Meadow Mariangela was doing all the talking while the two men were like caged lions on the leash. When we asked Carmela about that and she said “In Israel the methodology is to surround and scream and that works well (It does??) but over year it doesn’t work and if either of the men try to say anything we tell them to shut up.”

The flight to Newark was empty and after having done all the customs at the Canadian end we just walked out, picked up out bags and made our way to the in-laws.

We got here in the end - just!!

6 Comments:

Blogger AnySara said...

Glad you arrived safe and sound (if liberated of some of your sanity!). Sounds like you all (the Co.il's) kept a good attitude about everything. Enjoy your trip!

8:01 PM  
Anonymous savta anne said...

Thank G-d you arrived safely. It sounds like a bit of a nightmare.
It's good to hear that there was no biff on your part.
I was thinking about you for the past 2 days. I am now relieved to have news about you.

5:35 AM  
Blogger RR said...

Oh, you poor guys! We've been thru similar hellish traveling situations, though nothing quite as bad as yours- and it's so much harder when you've got a baby to look after. Enjoy your holiday- you deserve it!

I kept laughing throughout your post- shmulik, the pirhanas feeding, The Sopranos, etc. Very funny! Glad you were able to keep your sense of humor even after all you had to endure. Chag Sameach!

8:38 AM  
Blogger Sweatshop Worker said...

Sorry to hear of the troubles and stress.
In my family it would be considered a nightmare until we board and then my father would begin mentally comprising a grisly, graphic-of-all-hardships-faced letter to Air Canada. This usually results primarily in an apology letter, then a follow up 'this isn't acceptable, give me a goodwill gesture' by my dad and a very minimum of a LOT of money off the next flight.
Case in point: He flew AlItalia last Pesach where they messed up the bags, flights times, flights and seats. My dad got full price fare back (even though he didnt pay it).
Moral of the Story: If you need help comprising said letter, I will point you to the right email address!
We miss you guys xxxxx

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad the trip was so excieting. i will just keep my fingers crossed that mrs. dotcodotil will not have the same experience on the way bk.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous ifyouwillit... said...

At least all was well in the end, enjoy the break!

7:27 PM  

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