Ryan Goes to the Cote d’Azur (Part I – Getting There)

2007 July 27
by Ryan

A couple weeks ago I took part in a company retreat to Nice, France. As is expected from any of my travels, I have some interesting stories to tell of my trip. My itinerary had me flying JetBlue to JFK (John F Kennedy International Airport – New York City) then switching to Delta for a direct flight from JFK to Nice. The retreat took place from Wednesday to Saturday, but I stayed and extra few days until the next Wednesday to take full advantage of a free flight to the French Riviera.

It all began Tuesday afternoon on my JetBlue flight from Charlotte to JFK. About an hour out of Charlotte there was a medical emergency on board. Apparently a woman was having problems breathing. She was several rows behind me so I couldn’t see exactly what was going on. Because of this the flight turned back to Charlotte. We get halfway back to Charlotte and they decide the woman is doing ok so they turn the plane around to head back to JFK. We’re heading to JFK for another 15 minutes or so before we turn back around to Charlotte – apparently we had lost our landing spot. We’re now heading back to Charlotte again when after 15 minutes the plane heads back towards JFK – we got a new landing spot. Of course, none of this information was relayed to us until afterwards, so all I saw was the plane flying in circles on the seatback GPS map. Thank goodness I had a 3 hour layover in JFK or I would have missed my connecting flight.

We finally get to JFK. This was my first trip to JFK and I hope it will be my last. JFK now ranks as my second least favorite airport – bested only by Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow. JetBlue I think is in one of the original JFK terminals. You can tell the terminal’s age by the narrow board indentations used to hold the walls while the concrete dried. Unfortunately the Delta terminal is a couple stops away via the airport train. I get off at the Delta terminal and find out that you have to walk about 500m and cross two streets (well, actually the same street twice – which is an even worse design than crossing two different streets). I get up to the terminal and the line is out the door, down the street and around the corner. If it had been raining everyone would have been screwed. Luckily is was only sunny and hot so we were all stinky and sweaty instead. There was an old Italian woman behind me who decided she had had enough. She walked up to the door and tried to talk her way in … to no avail. If the crotchety old Italian grandma can’t get in fast – no one can.

The line worried me a bit – with my JetBlue delays I now only had about 90 minutes before my flight to Nice took off. After about 60 minutes of waiting outside I finally made it inside – only to see the line continue. Crappity. At this point my flight left in 30 minutes and I didn’t even have a boarding pass. Then I spotted them – the check-in kiosks. I didn’t think you could check in internationally with the kiosks, but a few questions to the Delta staff guarding the main door, confirmed that I could as long as I wasn’t checking any baggage. I wasn’t.

I managed to pack all belongings for this week long trip into a daypack. Even I was impressed with my packing ability. Although, when you’re going to a beach resort you don’t need many bulky clothes – shorts and polo shirts don’t take up much room.

Anyway, back to Delta check-in. I go up to the kiosk and try to check in. Well, as it turns out, you can’t check in at a kiosk if your flight leaves within 30 minutes. Super. I flag down one of the Delta staff and explain my problem – trying to be as calm as possible for a person whose flight was leaving within 30 minutes. She tried to check me in and got the same error. Luckily there was a special desk set up just for people who were having problems with the check-in kiosks (if you need a special desk to service people with kiosk check-in errors – and there were only 2 kiosks – it seems to me there is something wrong with you kiosk check-in system, but I wasn’t complaining). I managed to talk my way past the two people ahead of me at the kiosk service line (their flights didn’t leave until 5 minutes after mine). I got my boarding pass and breezed through security (probably since everyone was still waiting in the check-in line). I briskly walked down to my gate and was able to get on my flight with no problems. As it was the flight was delayed 15 minutes (not that there were any notification boards out in the street where everyone was standing waiting to check in – so had no way of knowing the stasis of the flights).

After everyone had boarded they made an announcement asking for volunteers to give up their seat for a $600 flight voucher plus hotel stay near the airport. I told the flight attendant I would take the offer if they could get me to Nice before 7pm the next day (when our retreat officially started), but either someone took the money before me or they couldn’t get me to Nice before 7pm the next day because I didn’t get the offer.

The flight to Nice was uneventful. As usual they showed a string of crappy movies that I didn’t watch. Stay tuned for the rest of the story ….

One Response leave one →
  1. miss_cinderella permalink*
    July 28, 2007

    LOL, Ryan, I seriously don’t know how you do it that you always gt involved to such adventures, but again you made me laugh.
    I have nver had such kind of experience you always write about, and neither had I problems with the Delta building at JFK (besides that the whole JFK is really ugly), however we had also a long row, but before our flight took off everyone who was flying to Bp. or Barcelona was called out from the row to be able to check in in time.

    Anyway, I had a good laugh, thx.

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