We were all fired up about our trip to Portugal’s Azores Islands to film over the Memorial Weekend Holiday.
Weeks of planning had taken place and the Visit Azores folks had everything set for us and put together an excellent itinerary. This was going to be a great couple of episodes, but first, we had to get there.
Azores Air flies direct to the Azores once per day out of Boston Logan Airport at 9:05PM. Our flight was scheduled weeks in advance and was to leave on Thursday.
I had lunch with our Providence affiliate, WNAC Fox 64 and MyRI 64.2, so I decided to drive up from NYC via a rental car from Avis/Budget which has an office near where I live in Manhattan.
I booked a flight for the film crew on Delta Airlines leaving from JFK in NYC at 3pm and arriving in Boston Logan a little after 4 PM. Our plan was that I would meet them there around 5 PM after my lunch and a couple of afternoon meetings in Boston.
I was worried that the crew would be exhausted waiting around Boston Logan before catching our fight out hours later as we were to begin filming immediately on arrival to the Azores the following day shortly after 6:30 AM, so we’d all be sleep deprived.
Turns out, my worries were misplaced.
I began getting texts from the crew around 2 PM that Delta Airlines was postponing the flight. I began to get worried because I know things can go south quickly when this begins to happen. It was a rainy, dreary day but a little light rain shouldn’t be enough to cancel flights, especially a shuttle flight from NYC to Boston which are pretty much every hour on the hour. I’ve made that same commute many times myself.
After receiving notification that the flight was going to be really late getting into Boston Logan, I decided to pull over at a rest area about 70 miles and 1.5 hours outside of Boston Logan to make some calls.
I alerted our travel hosts at Visit Azores and called Azores Air to see what our options were.
They indicated the crew should be at the gate no later than 8PM. Delta’s new ETA for the crew’s flight into Boston Logan was now 7 PM (or at least as best as my crew could decipher from the reportedly un-helpful gate agent at JFK’s Delta terminal).
At that point, I could have booked the crew on the following evening’s flight on Azores Air out of Boston as the ticket agent told me there were exactly 3 seats available. But those 3 seats would go fast and the Azores ticket office was scheduled to close soon.
I decided against it assuming Delta would make the flight happen. Bad decision.
To complicate matters, after visiting the restroom at the Rest Area, I discovered my rental car had a flat tire and, surprise, surprise…the car did not come with a spare tire.
Roadside Assistance was called but the folks they arranged to tow the car were 1.5-2 hours from being able to assist me, so now I was in danger of missing the flight as well. David, the very nice telephone agent at Roadside Assistance, advised me to abandon the car and get an uber to the airport if I could.
I set about arranging for uber pick up and was in luck as one happened to be in my area. Uber driver Keith swung by to pick me up and we were on our way, albeit in heavy traffic.
Minutes later I get a call from the crew informing me that the JFK flight had just been officially cancelled. Delta gate agents then suddenly became helpful and booked the crew on a flight out of LGA to Boston that would get in around 7:30 PM, it would now be really, really tight but we could still make it. The Domestic Terminal was a 15 minute walk / run from the International Terminal I was told.
I instructed the guys to sit up front as much as possible. They already only had carry on luggage/gear.
But flying out of LGA is especially nightmarish these days, with construction going on. I was afraid the crew’s taxi wouldn’t make it on time with car traffic a mess there.
They actually did, but it didn’t matter because as soon as they arrived the LGA Delta Flight to Boston Logan began getting delayed, and eventually cancelled.
Unfortunately for us, all this happened too late, the 3 seats were no longer available and the ticket office for Azores Airlines was closed.
When I arrived to the airport (1.5 hours and $96 poorer from the Uber ride), I promptly checked in and received a call from my Azores Tourism contact, who, was working into the wee hours of the night there to try to accommodate us and save our trip. I felt so guilty.
She suggest I fly in (it’s not like I could just turn around and go home as I’m now in Boston, live in NYC and had abandoned my transportation due to the flat tire/no spare scanrio) and then we either try to get the crew on the next flight in the following couple of days, or I could scramble and try hire a local crew there. Either way, hopefully, I would still be able to shoot something.
Alas, after the Azores Airlines flight at was on the taxi way at around 9:30 or 10PM, we received word from the Captain that the flight had been cancelled due to a technical problem with the plane.
After waiting what seemed like hours for my checked luggage, I did a quick online search only to realize there were no hotels to be had in Boston as this was Harvard Graduation week. I had not graduated from Harvard, but even dumb little old me could figure out this was not my time to visit the Azores.
I could hang out in the Boston Airport for more than 24 hours and hope to catch the next flight to the Azores or take a train home (I was already exhausted having been awake since 6AM and it was now 12:30 AM the next day).
I ended up sleeping (or trying too among the bright lights and constant airport announcements of “if you see something, say something” and “Lexus the official car company of Boston Logan” or some non-sense announcements) at the Boston Logan Airport before taking the 5:05 AM train to NYC.
The Amtrak train home was by far the most pleasant part of the journey.
A lot of sweat equity and money was wasted on a trip that never materialized thanks to bumbling, fumbling travel corporations that dropped the ball and just plain old lady luck.
I also share the blame because obviously, in retrospect, I should have never relied on airplane travel or even car travel, I should have just trained it. But with Amtrak’s own woes of late, that carries it’s own risk.
Is there a boat service up to Boston that anyone is aware of?
I’ve included some photos and a short video of the entire experience. I hope you can enjoy it because I sure didn’t.
P.S. Be on the look out for this and more misadventures in Season 5 when we premiere “When Travel Goes Wrong” in February 2018 and here’s hoping the Azores trip gets rescheduled. Stay Tuned.
6/10/17 POST SCRIPT:
Today I received this bill from Avis/Budget Rental Car for $182.04 for the Roadside Assistance and Towing.
Remember they didn’t provide a spare tire in my car rental and advised me to call RA and take an Uber to the airport as a result. So let’s see
(1) Original 1 Way Car Rental Cost NYC to Boston = $115
(2) Uber to Boston Airport = $75
(3) Roadside Asst. Cost = $182…
so my $115 Car Rental Tab is now $372.04 for a trip. Ouch. Talk about adding insult to injury.