planes, charter bus, subway, train, automobiles

2 weeks ago, our little mission team of 61 people was split over two flights to get home from the Dominican Republic. One group (ours) would fly via JetBlue; the other Delta. Both were supposed to connect through JFK at similar times to land in Charlotte. (so was the plan.)

This is our journey to get 31 people home that took place from 9am March 13 - 9am March 15 while the Nor'easter hovered over New England for 3 days.

  • 9a-11:45a: SDQ: We arrive a quickly find out that the Nor'easter has canceled our connecting flight. JB employees frantically hit keyboard keys for an hour only to say..."you should just go to JFK (New York) and your chances of getting to North Carolina will be greater from there."
  • 2:45pm: attempted JFK landing: wind gusts of 60-70 mph shake the plane to the point of much nausea. 300 feet off the ground, the pilot pulls up (probably saving our lives) and we're diverted to another airport.
  • 3:30pm: Bradley International Airport, Connecticut: I submit that Bradley should NOT be called "international" since they only handle ONE international flight PER WEEK.
  • 3:30pm-9:30pm - we were kept on the plane because US Customs officials were not present to process our flight. That's 6 hours (!!!) where the plane could have gone to Charlotte and back! Meanwhile, Tessa and other small ones start to lose their cool. Some students lighten the mood and seize the opportunity to snap photos in the cockpit.
  • 10p-12:30a: JetBlue takes our group (via charter bus) to JFK. We stop at McD's along the way to eat our first meal since breakfast.
  • 12:45am: We're in line at JB hoping to get 31 people accommodated. (because of the storm, no hotels, no meal vouchers, just sit and wait.)
  • 2am - 8:45pm - JFK: most of our group gets parred down thanks to concerned parents re-booking their children on other flights. (JB's policy does not allow booking on other airlines.) People sleep throughout the day on the floor. Full flights keep us stuck. The remaining 12 of us await the fate of the 9:45pm flight to Charlotte. Tessa keeps everyone's spirits up. They figure if she's okay, then so are they. (a little lesson on perspective for us all.)
  • 8:45pm: for no reason, and with clear-ish weather (maybe the clouds were too low?) - our flight is canceled. The cancellation line for JB stretches over a block long.
  • 9:45pm-11pm: our remaining group of 9 - beyond sleep deprived, tired, neglected - leave JFK and JetBlue (you know the scene in a movie where the kidnapped victim has one single glimmer of hope to get out and run for their life? -- that was us.)
  • 11pm: We depart via Amtrak for Baltimore, MD. (Tessa finally goes to sleep.)
  • 1am-ish (really, now all times are vague and blurring together). shuttled to BWI airport in hopes of catching a 5:25am commuter flight via USAirways. (T is still asleep. Holly is again thankful for the reclining stroller.) Team passes out (again!) on concrete floor.
  • 5am: 7 of us are on the flight. Holly, Tessa and Justin wait for the glorious moment when "flying standby" actually pays off. (T - still sleeping!)
  • 5:20am: Our standby boarding passes are issued. (we're on the plane!) Tessa sleeps through the whole flight!!!
  • 7am: We land in Charlotte!!! Tessa wakes up. happy baby. tired mommy and daddy. (no checked luggage since it was on the canceled flight).
  • 8am: car ride home. Justin drinks coffee only to find its caffeine effects seem futile.
  • 9am. We arrive in the church parking lot.
The actual mission trip to the Dominican Republic was wonderful. But we joke that we went on two trips that week. "There was the one where we went to the Dominican Republic. And then, there was the one where we went to JFK." (Thanks, Marti.)

[ By the way, the Delta group was diverted to Cincinnati and were all home by Sunday evening. They had a hotel Saturday night and meal vouchers. We're waiting to see if JetBlue can win the bronze medal for public relations by helping us cover the additional $$$ it took to get 31 people home. ]

First steps

She's so big. Learning to swim (okay... float!) and now taking steps!