Why does that Newark airport suck so much? I always forget how bad it is until I am stuck there for any period of time.
Yesterday, we got up around 8 am and just slowly packed our things to be out of the cottage by 10. Because our flight didn’t leave until 2, we figured we had some time to drive around the island one more time and even have a final lunch somewhere. When we drove away from the cottage, I started to cry a little. We really just did not want to go. We drove around but got stuck in the worst traffic of our vacation. We did not make it to the car rental place until 12, so we figured there was no time for anything else but to drop off the car and head to the airport. Ugh. Why did we leave? Getting on a flight from St Maarten to Newark to transfer to Chicago to transfer to Madison to head home to layoff notices, pay cuts and radical slashes to our collective bargaining rights seemed so…irrational. But that’s what we did.
The airport security in St Maarten was kind of odd. Our passports were checked at the check-in counter and again before the security screen. And then again at the gate upon boarding the plane. Also at the gate, they made us — and others — throw out their coffee. Sad. And then *random* people — including Aaron — were wanded and searched before getting on the plane in the hallway on the way to board the plane. Hmm.
The flight to Newark was fine, except that I paid the $4 to watch movies on the way and the featured movie was Hereafter, which isn’t really the type of movie an already-scared flier should be watching on a long flight. We landed in Newark and made it through customs and immigration in, I’d say, about 20 minutes. The immigration officer even made a funny joke to us about being one of the missing Democratic senators. We then had to go through security again, which is not a big deal except that it’s Newark. This means that there is a security screening before every 8 gates or so. So when you go through security, you are limited to whatever is set up to cater to only a few gates. In other words, the Continental President Club passes we had would do us no good because our gate had about two amenities in its area. We could risk it, of course, and use the President’s Club outside the gate (or head to any other restaurant or bar outside the gate), but this felt like a pretty significant risk. Our flight was delayed, but just by an hour an a half and the line to go through the gate was huge. We decided to go through the gate and hope that the Red Carpet Club in our gate area, whose sign we could see, would honor our passes (the airlines have merged afterall, right?). It took us more than 30 minutes to get through the gate to the other side…And once on the other side? No Red Carpet Club. Just signs for it. And one restaurant, which had a long line for a table. Ugh. So, we sat in what we hoped would be a quiet area to wait. Wrong. There were people everywhere. And everyone is always talking loudly on their phone. We moved again. It was slightly better. Our flight, though, continued to be delayed. What was supposed to be an 8 pm flight to Chicago quickly turned into being labeled a 10:20 pm flight. Around 8 pm, since we had not eaten in about 9 hours, we decided to get in line for the restaurant. About 20 minutes later, we were seated. About 15 minutes after that, someone took our order. Chaos. We ate, paid and went back to wait at the gate. Finally, around 10:30 pm, we boarded the plane. We then sat on the tarmac until about 11:45.
We landed in Chicago a little after 1 am and found the hotel shuttle to the Chicago O’Hare Garden Inn, which I had booked for us weeks earlier since our flight did not leave for Madison until 9 am. It was a total of $35. I can’t exactly say I recommend it, or that I would label it — as it does itself — a ’boutique’ hotel, but it did its job. While my side of the bed did not have a bedside table, like Aaron’s, my side also did not have the broken lamp that Aaron’s did. So, you know, there’s that.
I’m grateful, though, that we’re home safely. Even if home is a chilly land without bargaining rights. For today.