Need to Sleep on a Plane? Try This App.

There is nothing civil about civil aviation, especially in the US. What should have been a reasonably fast hop from Bermuda to Toronto turned into a 14-hour clusterf**k of delays, TSA shakedowns, surly gate employees, brutal air traffic control and lost baggage.

Note to self: never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever assume that things will go well at LaGuardia in NYC. In the time it took us to get home from Bermuda, we could have flown to Hong Kong.

It began with a severe TSA scolding at BDA. After having our documents checked four times, there was a fifth check just before the X-ray machines. A humourless woman was standing at a podium next to a sign that screamed “PLEASE HAVE YOUR BOARDING PASSES AND PASSPORTS READY FOR EXAMINATION.”

I handed her my boarding pass and passport.

“Why are you giving me this?” she yelled, tossing my passport back at me. “I don’t need this. Just your boarding pass. All. I. Need. Is. Your. BOARDING PASS!”

The trip went downhill from there.

My favourite was the WestJet gate staff who were so ashamed of the cascading delays they didn’t even bother to put flight information up on the monitor. They wouldn’t even display the WestJet logo. A typical announcement–when they gave one–went like this:

“Attention passengers on WestJet 1217 to Toronto. We apologize for the delay caused by congestion and weather here in New York [There was no “weather” in NY; not a drop of rain or breath of wind.] Your flight originally scheduled for 7:50pm now has an estimated departure time of [insert fiction here]. WeapologizeforanyinconveniencethismaycausethankyouforflyingWestJet-andwehopeyouhaveapleasantevening.”

After about four hours, we were given meal vouchers–not applicable for purchase of alcoholic beverages–which meant given the time of day, the only food we could buy was in the coolers at the gift shop.

When we finally did get on the plane, it was two-thirds empty–yet my wife and I were assigned the middle and window seats way at the back–and of course there was someone sitting in the aisle. Brilliant.

When we landed, we were herded to the customs kiosk machines for processing, even though there were more than half a dozen border agents sitting in their little boxes with nothing to do. No lines.

Fine. Let’s try the machines.

“DOCUMENT UNREADABLE. SEE CUSTOMS AGENT.”

Sigh.

When we finally got to the baggage hall, only one suitcase appeared on the carousel. More standing in line waiting to file a missing baggage claim with the WestJet agent. I gave her the baggage tag with the tracking number.

“Can you see our bag in the system?” I asked.

“No,” she said. “But because you transferred to WestJet from Delta at LaGuardia, it’s probably in their system.” After a pause, she added “I hope.” Frankly, she didn’t look hopeful at all. (Update: 24 hours later and still no signs of that suitcase. No news from WestJet or Delta. Zip.)

So much for those two bottles of 140 proof Goslings rum, then.

Finally in the car for the ride home, we hit a ramp closure at the 427/401 that forced us to take a big detour–only to find that the two of the three lanes on the QEW westbound had been closed, causing a massive backup. It took more than an hour to make what should have been a 20-minute trip.

Never again. Stay away from NYC airports unless you have no other choice.

But back to the original purpose of this post. Had I been able to sleep on the BDA-LGA leg of the trip, I might have been less cranky. I’m definitely going to try Airsleep on my next trip. A full report at The Next Web.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

5 thoughts on “Need to Sleep on a Plane? Try This App.

  • August 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm
    Permalink

    I'm a WJ pilot and we all hate when our day involves a trip into that black hole of delays known as LGA (unless we are done for the day there and get a NYC layover)

    Sorry about your bad experience. Hope the yyz agent was able to track your bag.

    As far as the seating thing, unless you pick a seat when you check in, the computer will assign seats to optimize weight and balance. You should have just asked the flight attendant if you could move. Pretty much all the ones I work with would be more than accommodating, especially with lots of empties. Not super critical for W&B unless 10 football players move from front to back or vice-versa.

    Anyway, Alan, if you are on WJ again, listen for the Captain's name and if you hear mine (the only one with my first name at the co.) come up and say hi. I'll make sure you get a rum or two pr something and give you a flight deck tour after we land.

    Reply
  • August 10, 2013 at 5:18 pm
    Permalink

    Highly recommend NatureSpace for ambient/white noise tracks

    Reply
  • August 11, 2013 at 12:59 am
    Permalink

    Why did you connect at LGA? Doesn't Air Canada fly direct from BDA to YYZ?

    Reply
  • August 11, 2013 at 5:04 am
    Permalink

    It does, but we booked late and the connecting flight was more than a grand cheaper.

    Reply
  • August 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm
    Permalink

    Sorry to say this, but I think the old adage applies here, you get what you pay for. I've learned over the years, there is no such thing as a bargain, just more problems.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.