Greetings from our beautiful accommodations in lovely Jamaica! Well, Jamaica, Queens…
Surely by now you’ve heard that we’ve had a less-than-stellar day of travel (that’s putting it politely). Despite some expected tiredness and grumpiness, the girls are surprisingly upbeat and were even heard singing in the hallways tonight (not in a “disturbing the peace” way, but a friendly and spirited way that made us proud of their good attitudes!).
Before I get into the details of the day, I regret to inform you that because we are using a different platform for the blog, I’ll not be able to post pictures within the blog posts as I have in years past–I’ll try posting some individual pictures as separate posts as we go.
Anyway, here’s the story:
After making it to JFK from PDS in record time, the rumors of a cancelled flight were realized to be all too true. It was an unfortunate start to the day, but by no means an insurmountable challenge. Spirits seemed to be optimistic as we dragged our luggage to the most out-of-the-way area in front of the check in desks. Some of the girls took the extra time to catch up on some lost sleep from the night before; some girls enjoyed a quick game of “Apples to Apples”; some girls even tried to get a little exercise in (interestingly, this involved tying someone’s legs together at the ankles–unsuccessfully). Needless to say, everyone found their own way to pass the time.
When Miss Butler returned from the ticket counter, she shared with us the dreaded news:
“Now girls, remember our word of the day: ‘Flexibility’! Our flight was cancelled because the pilot was sick. The next flight they can get us on is at 7:45PM.”
“But Miss Butler, don’t they have backup pilots?”
Smart girls! They realized there was something more to the story from the beginning. Unbeknownst to us (but perhaps knownst to the airline), Caribbean Airlines pilots had chosen TODAY of all days to stage a strike by calling in sick. Because it was still so early in the morning, no one yet realized the severity of the issue. But it was just getting started…
As the adults tried to get a handle on the situation and figure out how we would be spending the rest of the day before the 7:45PM flight, the girls decided it would be the perfect time to check out the self-service Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk (thank heavens–we needed it!). Fully sugared, caffeinated, and ready to face whatever curveballs the day might throw at us, we went back up to our gathering place, checked all of our luggage for safe-keeping at the airport, and headed down to the air train. Despite a bit of a crazy moment getting all of the girls onto one train (and some ridiculous back-talk from an overly sassy airport employee), we all managed to get to the Federal Circle Station in one piece. We were whisked away on a bus to our hotel–one of those typically smaller shuttle busses, with all 40-some of us packed in like a bunch of clowns in a clown car. One unfortunate man who happened to be riding with us was wincing the entire ride to the hearty screaming of the girls who had the misfortune of standing in the aisle, reacting to each turn and big bump in the road.
We arrived at the Radisson in time to enjoy the breakfast buffet (believe it or not, all of this had taken place before 9AM). After breakfast, most of us went to bed and slept for a few hours. Then it was lunch time–another buffet, but this one slightly less appetizing. Once lunch was over, we were informed that our 7:45PM flight was cancelled and that we would now be taking a 2:00AM flight. After bemoaning this new wrinkle in the plan, we headed into one of the conference rooms and had a nice, a cappella rehearsal. The girls were real troopers, and we were able to get a lot of work done. We managed to finish in time to catch the majority of the USA vs. Belgium World Cup match (a small contingent stayed in the lobby, while others either watched it in their rooms or decided their time was better spent napping). I’m not sure which was most disappointing–the USA loss, or the fact that around that same time we got word that our 2AM flight was now cancelled and the official news that the pilots were on strike. To make matters worse, we were also hearing that if we were able to change airlines, none of them flew direct flights to Trinidad and we would likely get trapped in Florida due to the impending tropical storm. All of these anxious thoughts made for a bit of a tense dinner, which featured many of the girls calling home to give updates. On a happy note, we were able to sing happy birthday to Ella who was celebrating her birthday today! So we had that going for us, which is nice…
From there, it’s been a low-key evening. Everyone has been getting some rest, and a few girls and chaperones went back to the airport and gathered our luggage so at the very least we can rest assured that we will be able to wear clean clothes tomorrow. I should probably go to bed now, too–we need to be ready to roll at 6AM for our next attempt at getting a flight.
And so, that is where I must leave you, dear readers. In the spirit of the old radio serials, I feel like I need to end in this way:
“Will we get a flight to Trinidad tomorrow morning as is the current plan? Will the pilots end their strike? Will we get a comped breakfast? Stay tuned to the tour blog and find out tomorrow!”