August 3, 2018, 3:15 AM
Alarm number one goes off. *&^%$!!
Why didn’t I listen to my parents when they tried to steer me away from the music business? I’m supposed to be getting home from a gig at this hour, not leaving to get to a gig. Guess those days are over.
Alarm number two goes off while I’m brushing my teeth. Yeah, yeah, I’m up, or at least out of bed.
My taxi arrives to take me to JFK airport. The weather is okay so this should be an uneventful ride.
As I step out of the cab my phone rings. It’s an 800 number, and though I don’t recognize it, I’m guessing it’s an automated message from American Airlines with information about my flight. It is, and it’s the second-to-worst-case scenario: our 6:30 AM flight has been delayed until 9:00. Couldn’t these morons have let me know this last night, when I might have had the chance to sleep an hour or two more? It’s the first flight of the day to Dallas so why the heck is it delayed? No matter, let the games begin.
The delay means that we’ll miss our connection from DFW to Lake Charles, La. In the event that you have never flown to Lake Charles, I’ll clue you in. American and United are the only two major airlines that service this airport. They each run three flights in per day, none of which originate in the New York area. Of course, we know this and that’s why we’re on the 6:30 AM from JFK to DFW—so that we could be on the first flight from DFW to Lake Charles, arriving at 11:53 AM and leaving us with a backup plan (the second flight), which arrives at 3:55 PM. Late, yes, but early enough to make the gig.
Our travel agent, Saint Roy, is in Austin, Texas, so he’s an hour behind. I decide I have to wake him. He graciously avoids calling me every horrible name in the book and tells me he’ll call back in a few minutes when he’s in front of his computer.
Roy calls me back and informs me that the backup flight from DFW to Lake Charles is completely booked—not even a single seat to be had. We start to look at other options. Have I mentioned that JFK is an absolute madhouse (even at this hour) and I’m standing with five people and 15 bags at the curb? While I speak with Roy, I ask one of my crew to call the driver from our cartage company (who just dropped the gear) and ask him to pull over and wait a few minutes—just in case I have to haul everyone and everything to another area airport.
As I have often heard over the phone, Roy is typing furiously. “Let’s look at other airports.” Houston: all flights completely booked. Baton Rouge: no seats. New Orleans: same thing. Lafayette: no. Shreveport: nothing. Jackson, Miss.: nope. Charlotte and Atlanta: nada, nothing zip zero. Not a single seat going anywhere in the area.
We tell our intrepid cartage driver he’s off the hook and realize that there is only one way to get to this gig: When we land in Dallas at noon, we will have to drive five and a half hours to Lake Charles. That would be five and a half hours without stopping, so it’s really more like six to six and a half hours. Roy starts making calls to see if we can get a Sprinter and a driver so that we don’t kill ourselves trying to drive six hours after having had, oh… an hour or two of sleep the night before.
I call the band’s manager to clue him in on what’s happening.
We tell our skycap that we are not going to Lake Charles and that people and bags will end the trip at DFW. He generates the appropriate change in the reservation. On the one hand we’re happy that we’ll probably make the gig. On the other hand, I’d rather get whacked in the face with a Regal Tip 3S drumstick than drive six hours after flying to DFW on no sleep.
We check the bags and head for security. One of the band remembers that there’s a really good eatery in JFK Terminal 8 called Brooklyn Deli (they crack the egg), so we head there for breakfast. Another of the band remarks, “This is likely the only meal we’ll have all day,” and I fear he is correct.
We’re all eating breakie.
Everyone heads for the gate.
We’re all sitting at the gate, and simultaneously our phones ring with another automated message from American. The flight is now delayed until 11:00 AM, which puts us at DFW at 2 PM, which puts us at the venue at 8:00 PM. Have I mentioned that show time is 8:00 PM? I get on the phone with the band’s manager. Now we have a serious problem.
We all get automated voice calls from American stating that the flight time is moved back to 9:00 AM.
We all get automated calls from American stating that the flight time is changed to 11:00 AM. Yes, really.
We all get automated calls from American stating that the flight time is changed to 12:00 Noon. Now we’re probably not going to make the show. I get on the phone to the band’s manager. He gets on the phone to the venue talent buyer and we both stress that if this flight does indeed go at Noon, we’ll have to board around 11:15 AM. A decision has to be made pronto because if I take the band and crew to Dallas and the show is canceled, they’ll hang me from a street lamp.
The band’s manager calls to tell me that the show is canceled.
We need to retrieve our bags but a gate agent tells us they cannot be removed from the plane. We are told to go to baggage claim services and open a missing bags report, which we do, even though we know exactly where the bags are. We all head home, sans gear and luggage.
American cancels the flight that was supposed to have taken us from JFK to DFW.
I feel sorry for the people who sat at the gate from 6:00 AM until 4:45 PM.
Saturday Aug 4, 5:00 PM
I get a call from American Airlines’ baggage delivery company that they want to deliver our bags at 6:00 PM. No can do. Our storage facility is closed.
Sunday Aug 5, 10:30 AM
The delivery service drops 13 of the 15 bags at our storage locker. Yay (!) but where are the other two? I make a call to American Airlines. They don’t know where the bags are. How unusual.
Monday Aug 6
I make another call to American’s baggage department. A very helpful woman apologetically informs me that those two bags are at DFW, and should be turned around to New York later in the day.
Tuesday Aug 7
Time unknown. The bags are delivered to my home address. My luggage now has more frequent flyer miles than I do. Good grief.