When we arrived home on Monday and after our nap, I got on the phone with the airlines to see if we could secure an earlier flight for our Tuesday departure.
After 2 hours on the phone with various people passing the buck, it didn't look very good for an earlier flight. Expedia couldn't help because the original itinerary was changed by the airline. I called American Airlines, but because the airport personnel had changed the itinerary, they wouldn't touch it either. In the end, we were S.O.L.
Up bright and early on Tuesday to go to the airport. Arrived at the check in and the flight was on time (yay!). Still no luck getting on the 5:25pm flight instead of the 8:15pm from San Juan to St. Thomas, but we thought we would have better luck while we were in San Juan.
The flights were relatively uneventful. (N.B.: do not order the Direct TV on the plane as it stops working once you leave the 'footprint' of the US - I should have known as the same thing happens on Westjet once you leave the Canadian satellite footprint. The movies still work, but not the live television programs. The movies were lame - it was a four hour flight, you need to have more than two viable options! Arthur (saw it), Life as we Know it (saw it), Goonies (really?!?) and something else that was unmemorable.
We got to San Juan around 1:30pm and immediately went to the American Eagle counter to try and get an earlier flight. The guy at the counter just started shaking is head rapidly and had a look on his face that said Fat Chance! He was nice, but we knew there was no way to get on. We asked if we could leave our bags somewhere and were directed to a gentleman in a secure room. He gave us a discount on the fee for our bags (nice!) and we went out to grab a taxi to get some lunch.
The remnants of Irene were still swirling around Puerto Rico. It was pouring rain and very humid (to be expected). We decided to return to one of our favourite places for lunch. We love The Metropol restaurant. Only an 8 minute cab ride for some delicious Cuban and Puerto Rican fare. I have blogged about them before, and they did not disappoint this time. I had the roasted Cornish Hen stuffed with rice and black beans and served with a side of plantain. Wow - the chicken was moist and delicious. The star of the dish for me though, was the rice and bean stuffing. So much flavour - it could have been a dish on its own. Savoury and delicious rice that had the added benefit of soaking up all the delicious seasonings from the chicken. Yes, I ate the whole thing (I did give away two small drumsticks though) and it was marvelous. The Mojito we had was also stellar.
We got back to the airport, picked up our bags and tried to figure out what to do for the next 5 hours. We bought a 30-day lounge pass (cheaper than buying passes for two people) and spent our time waiting in there. Did I mention there was no charge for the bar AND free WiFi? Bliss.
We stayed in the lounge as long as we could (it closed at 7:45pm), then left to be on time to board our flight.
This is where things once again took a left turn. There was utter and complete chaos at the check in counter. There was an off duty flight attendant on her phone the entire time trying to ascertain (through her colleagues) what the &^#$ was going on! We found out from her, not the people at the counter, that the flight was cancelled (it was then 8:30pm - past the departure time). We thought we would then be able to get on the last flight of the day (during this time I was also making frequent calls to the house manager who was waiting for us on St. John)
We were getting worried now as the last ferry out of Red Hook St. Thomas was at midnight and it was about a 40 minute cab ride across the island to get there. Stories started circulating - another passenger contacted a colleague he knew at American and confirmed that yes, the flight was indeed cancelled, but the reason for the cancellation was yet to be determined. Let the games begin! I think if the airline can say it's a weather issue, you get bupkiss! However, if the problem is a technical one, then they have to at least provide you with accommodation and some food. I must declare as well that during this whole mess (which ended up taking about 2 hours) not once did someone from American Eagle actually announce that the flight was cancelled.
Like the lemmings we all tend to be at airports, we got in line and tried to get some information. My husband, seeing where this was going, made a beeline for another American Eagle counter and got us boarding passes for the first flight on Wednesday morning to St. Thomas, last leg! The airline, unbeknownst to us, had gone ahead and re-booked everyone for travel the next day. Also, the re-bookings were done alphabetically...so our friend who was traveling with us (surname beginning with 'W') didn't get a confirmed seat on the first flight out like we did, but the 5:15pm. He was on standby for the 10:00am flight...we'll see what happens.
After some more wrangling, we all ended up at different hotels, meal vouchers in tow, for another night of NOT getting to our ultimate destination.
Deep sigh again...