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Happiness, Success, and International Travel – Part 3

Crowds and Flight Safety: Should You Be Worried If the Emergency Hatch Lever Cover Keeps Popping Off?

This is a continuation from last week’s travel adventures part 1 and part 2 where we were stuck in a 95 degree plane with a broken indicator light, had a bus driver take a break mid ride, and would probably miss the connecting flight to Halifax. Click Here to Read More.

I had never experienced the Delta shuttle at La Guardia before. It is a site to behold. 8 to 12 flights at each gate with crowds of people waiting for the magical voice to call them forward so they can bounce their suitcases down the stairs and board a bus to what is hopefully the right plane. The flights are not listed on the video board in order, so it is really confusing trying to figure out which flight is next. The result is the crowd swells toward the counter every time an airline employee picks up the microphone. Then one by one disappointed travelers peel off and go back to their seats as they realize this was not their flight. They then wait again in harried anticipation of the next announcement that will signal their release to finally get on with their trip.

The number of times I observed people frantically stuffing their work back into their bags so they could rush to the gate door, only to be turned away as they learned their flight was delayed and another flight was being called was almost comical.

So in this chaos I waited patiently as my flight to Halifax was delayed again and again.   One announcement said the flight had been “slightly” delayed in Cleveland, but that was around the 3 hour mark. I think after 3 hours you should not put “slightly” in front of delayed. It is just delayed.   At one point we got the announcement that the plane was there but the crew’s flight time had expired so they had to find more crew. How exactly do you find more crew? Roam the terminals looking for crews that don’t seem busy? Call someone on their day off and ask them to turn off the lawn mower, take a shower, and drive into the airport? How long would that take? Grab a crew that thought they were done for the day and make them work 4 more hours? Or do they have a secret lounge with extra crews just waiting to get the call? Whatever they did, it worked, and 4 hours after it was supposed to take off we got to ride the bus to our plane.

Of course I was surprised when the announcement finally came and I became the harried traveler stuffing technology and notes into my bag as I raced to get in the boarding line.   I hurried towards the gate door but quickly realized that an extensive line had formed in a matter of seconds and I walked down two gates to find the back of the line. I was politely the last person in line. No need to rush to be the 3rd to last or 2nd to last. I might as well be courteous and let others claim those spots. This turned out to be a good decision. The bus was so crowded there was standing room only and barely enough of that. I had to cram myself and my suitcase into the doorway so they could close the door; which meant when we got to the plane, I was the first person off and the first to reach the plane.

I was a little worried by the exchange I overheard between the bus driver and the gate attendant. There was a lack of clarity on which flight this bus was taking us to. When we stopped, there was a line of buses in front of us. It was hard to tell if we were waiting or this was our plane. But since the door opened, I figured this must be our plane. It would be bad if I was wrong, because everyone else was following me off the bus. Meanwhile the bus driver still looked worried and confused. I asked the baggage handler if this was the plane to Halifax. He looked at me kind of confused and hesitantly nodded his head. I don’t know if didn’t understand my Texas accent or thought I was idiot for asking the question. Luckily as I climbed the stairs, the flight attendant was able to confirm that we had found the correct plane.

So I am 6’5” and on most planes my knees are wedged into the seat in front of me. But these small Delta shuttles (CRJ700’s) took that to another level. My knees were wedged in so tight my feet could not touch the ground. I looked like an adult stuffed into a kid’s toy car. Luckily no one had the seat next to me. Or maybe no one wanted to sit next to me. Either way, with no seat mate, I was able to angle my legs into the second seat and basically take up the whole row. As I stretched my legs into the next row and began to relax we got the dreaded announcement. The plane could not take off until all of the bags were connected to passengers. Because of terrorist threats, no bags could be on the plane if they were not connected to a passenger that was on the plane. Apparently there was bag with no passenger. They assured us this was just a paperwork process created by the fact we would be flying into Canada, which was another country. As the minutes ticked by, I noticed the baggage guys returning to the cargo hold over and over again. They would throw bags around and then leave. We could hear the bumps and bangs under our seats as they moved and sorted through the bags. They did that at least 3 times over a 1 hour period before they finally let us leave. My thought and a discussion I had with the person sitting across the row from me; “had they given up and just let us go or did they really account for all the bags and people?” I noticed they had never checked the passengers on the plane, just the bags.   Either way, we were finally on our way.

Since I fly a lot, I don’t worry too much about safety. But thinking about an extra disconnected bag made me pause; “Is it possible someone with bad intentions left a bag on a flight to Halifax?” But I had a hard time reconciling how Halifax would fit the profile of a terrorist target. But it was too late to worry about. The flight attendant was starting the Flight Safety Briefing.

“Please take out the emergency information card in the seat pocket in front of you.” I had to laugh. My emergency information card looked like it had been put through a meat grinder. Don’t they ever replace them? Then I looked at the couple sitting across the aisle from me. They were holding their card by the tips of their fingers. Clearly a dog had chewed it up and there were signs of dried slobber all over the card. This was our roadmap for safety in the case of emergency and they were torn up and too gross to read or even pick up. As the flight attendant finished her speech she walked to the back of the plane. When she was safely down the aisle, the Emergency Exit door latch cover magically popped off.   The confused passenger in the emergency row frantically tried to replace the cover. There was apparently some worn out Velcro and the sticky remnants of old glue, but neither was strong enough to hold the cover back in place. So he would get it on, and to his consternation, it would pop back off.   Eventually the flight attendant came back by and told us not to worry about it because it happens all the time. So my first flight was delayed because an indicator light was out, but we don’t need a cover on the Emergency Exit door latch? I guess that just makes things faster if there is an emergency.

As I quietly examined the now visible emergency latch, I was strangely drawn to it and had this weird desire to know what would happen if I pulled it. Luckily I was able to control my impulses, but it made me wonder, what if other people had similar thoughts but were not able to restrain themselves? During the flight no one lunged for the latch, so I guess the cover wasn’t that important.

Despite all of the indications that our safety might be less secure than we imagined, we landed in Halifax without incident. As we were guided off the plane, down the stairs and on to the Tarmac, the flight attendants warned, “Be careful out there, it just started raining.” What a great way to end such a fun-filled trip.

 

I was now 6 hours late, wet, and my plan to arrive early was completely shot. To top it off when I could finally get a signal on my phone, I got a message that we were having an impromptu meeting at the hotel. So I rushed to grab a cab.

I soon discovered that you don’t just grab a cab in Halifax. You have to arrange and pay for transportation. I walked up to the window and asked about my options. A cab was $65 or I could ride with the bus driver who happened to be standing right next to me for $22. Given my success with bus drivers, should I opt for fiscal responsibility at $22 or take a cab and go immediately to my hotel? If you have read through this series of blogs, you will know that I of course made the wrong decision and suffered through even more travel adventures.

 

What would you have done?

 

[Happiness Hack: Find patience for all the things you can’t control. Your thoughts, your actions, your reactions, and your happiness are always within your control. Everything outside of you is not. Sometimes you have to grin and bear it and sometimes you just have to laugh. But you don’t have to become a victim and succumb to the stress of life’s chaos that is outside of your control. The Serenity Prayer sums it up well:

 

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.

Find the fun and laughter not only in the good times but also in your mishaps and you will be happier.]

 

Previous Post –  Part 1 – 95 degree plane, broken indicator light and where do you get coffee at 5 am.

Previous Post –  Part 2 – More Adventures with Travel Delays and Why Do Bus Drivers Take Breaks While Passengers are on the Bus?

 

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness, Success, and International Travel – Part 2

More Adventures with Travel Delays and Why Do Bus Drivers Take Breaks While Passengers are on the Bus?

This is a continuation from last week’s travel adventures where we were stuck in a 95 degree plane with a broken indicator light and the delay meant we would miss the connecting flight to Halifax. Click Here to Read More.

Luckily, the mechanic had made it to work on time and apparently we were the first mechanical failure of the day. We only had to wait another 10 minutes before we got the go ahead to take off. So we were only about 20 minutes late and the pilot reported we could make up some of that time in the air. Once we got to 35,000 feet, the plane cooled down significantly and there was a rush to get the jackets and sweatshirts out of the bins where they had been ignominiously stuffed. It is always interesting to observe unhappy travelers watching their belongings being pushed and shoved by fellow travelers who are attempting to locate their items and then re-pack the over-stuffed bins and force the doors closed. Luckily we made it through the process with only minimal harsh words and no full blown fist fights.

We made it to LaGuardia with 45 minutes before my flight to Halifax. All I had to do was find the gate. Disappointingly the flight attendant didn’t mention Halifax in her list of connecting gates. Also, checking my handy American Airlines App, I could not find any information about my connecting gate or flight, except that it was on Delta. Even worse, the video boards, filled with arrival gates, did not show any departures for Halifax or Delta. I came to yet another stressful realization. I was in an American Airlines only terminal. No Delta flights, no Delta information, no one who knew how to get to Halifax. So with 40 minutes to go I searched for an information desk. Did you know that all information desks are outside of security? Apparently once you get inside of security, you no longer need information.

So I headed towards the baggage claim area searching for anyone who could help. The Security Guard was able to tell me that Delta was in a completely different terminal and I would have to go through security again. Not only that, I would have to take a bus to the Delta terminal. My next move was to go outside and try to figure out the right bus to get on. If you have flown into LaGuardia, you know there are a lot of buses, a lot of people, and a lot of signs, so I did a lot of reading and considering trying to confirm that I would be getting on the right bus to get me to the Delta terminal. Believe it or not, I still had hope. With 30 minutes to go, I was hoping the plane to Halifax might be slightly delayed. After careful review of the bus routes I determined that there was only one stop between here and the Delta terminal. All I needed was an efficient bus driver. Notice my positive thinking or maybe wishful thinking. As we headed to the Delta terminal, we made what in my eyes was an unplanned stop. There were no people waiting, but the bus driver gets off the bus and looks any way. He is looking for potential passengers, or so I thought. He then starts strolling away from the bus. I am very confused at this point, but I see him pause, think, and then stroll back to the bus. I slowly let my breath out. I had been holding my breath trying to figure out my next move. The bus driver steps back on the bus and peers around the safety bar at his passengers who look on with expectant and somewhat surprised faces. He announces that he is on break now, and the replacement bus driver should already be here. But not to worry, the current bus driver is sure the replacement driver will be here in the next 5 minutes. I relax and breathe as I realize everything has conspired against me to make sure I don’t make the flight to Halifax.   There must be a reason. But in the back of my mind, I have a tiny glimmer of hope for the trip saving flight delay. After a few minutes, a new bus driver appears and we are once again off to the races. We get to the Delta terminal in less than 5 minutes, which means I probably could have walked there faster, and we all rush off the bus to check our flights. I get inside the Delta terminal and surprisingly, I quickly locate the video displays for the arrivals. Where are the departures? No need to panic, they put them right next the arrivals. But the arrivals have 3 screens and the departures have 1 screen. So the departures have to scroll through. Should I be looking for Canada, Halifax, or Nova Scotia? After seconds that seem like minutes, I locate Halifax and excitedly I notice my flight has been delayed. That’s right, what was horrible news 4 hours ago is now fantastic news. But my American Mobile Ticket App doesn’t work for a Delta Ticket, even though we bought it through American, so I try the self-serve kiosk. I don’t know my Delta frequent flyer number and I can’t get my passport to scan.   So I pull out my glasses to read the tiny print on my phone as I try to find the email or calendar notice that gives me the flight locator number to appease the kiosk. After many minutes of frustration, I am able to locate my reservation and get informed by the machine that I have to speak with an agent. Will wonders never cease! Not being a Delta frequent flyer medallion member, I have to get in the “we love you, but not as much” line,   which is always longer and is a guaranteed 30 minute wait. Now I am worried that even with the flight delayed I won’t make it.   I shouldn’t have been worried. That flight was not going to take off for hours.

I finally made it through the line and a very helpful Delta employee sent me toward security with the message not to feel rushed, because the flight had been delayed by yet another hour. My trip was saved and I would make it to Halifax. But I found that saved and safe are two different concepts.

By then, it was almost noon and my breakfast burrito of unknown origin was no longer providing the energy I need. Since I had a little extra time and I had made it through security with little trouble, I decided to take a few minutes to eat.   Luckily there was a burger place just past security. I noticed a line of people, but nobody at the counter. Not a good sign. I started looking around and I noticed that people were ordering using iPads secured to the counter. So I await my turn and notice all of the frustrated looks. It was unclear whether people were ordering or not. When I finally get my turn, it is because the man in front of me just gave up. He was half way through his order and couldn’t find something so he just walked off. Meanwhile a lady kept coming out from behind the wall, yelling numbers, and handing out orders. So food was actually being distributed. Having worked with technology my whole career, I should not have been intimidated by an ipad menu. But I could barely read the screen without my glasses which I always hesitate to take out, and I can’t figure out how to order anything that is not a combo with a number. So I find the burger combo and forgo the special orders that make my wife crazy when we visit a drive through burger place. No mayonnaise, no onions, add cheese, etc.. I follow her advice and just pick a number. But there was no menu to pay and no place to swipe a credit card. Could I have gotten really lucky and stumbled on the only free burger place in New York? I see my ticket print out from the mini-printer on the counter. Not too difficult until another ticket prints out immediately after it. Which one is mine? No glasses and I don’t remember what number I ordered. So I let the more experienced airport worker pick up the tickets and figure out who gets what. It is a good thing to, because when he handed me the ticket, everything was abbreviated and I can’t tell if I got the right ticket or not. About that time the lady comes out from behind the wall and yells at the milling crowd, “You have go down there to pay before you can have your order!” She is clearly angry about this because no one seems to understand the system. As we all look down the hallway, off in the distance, about 100 yards away, we can see long lines in front of registers that apparently collect money for all the restaurants in this general area. So I need to go way down there to pay. But I want a bottle of water for my trip and the cooler with drinks is next to the ordering counter. So I grabbed a water bottle and began the long trek down to the registers, hoping my food doesn’t come out before I make it there and back. No need to worry. The burger makers had plenty of orders to prepare before mine. So many that they forgot about mine. As I am walking down the hallway to the registers with all of the other travelers who have just come through security, a panicked thought crosses my mind. What if they think I am stealing the water? I mean, I could just keep walking and keep the water without paying for it. There is no way they can keep up with who has paid and how hasn’t. Being honest and hungry, I stop at the register, wait in line and pay for my food. I then trek 100 yards back to the place where I ordered and wait for the angry lady to come out from behind the wall and yell my number, which she never does. While waiting I decided to fill the to-go cups with ketchup for my French fries. There are two red ketchup dispensers and one mustard dispenser. I had the weird thought that I should sample ketchup from both dispensers, but dismissed that as crazy. Maybe not so crazy after all. More on that in a minute. After about 10 minutes of waiting and confirming that my number was passed 10 orders ago, I stepped up to the counter and asked the lady about my order. This set off a firestorm of checking and yelling which eventually resulted in my box of burger and fries being shoved through a window near the wall. I then inquire about my Mocha Shake, which is not exactly a Mocha Frappe, but close enough. Once again I had set off a flurry of yelling and activity the resulted in a shake being unceremoniously plopped in front of me 5 minutes later. I politely say thank you and prepare to leave the counter. That is when I realize, I didn’t get a nice bag of food to go. I got an open box of fries and burger, a shake, a bottle of water, and two of those little cups of to-go ketchup. I also have a suitcase and brief case I am lugging around. Now anyone with four arms could have easily left the counter, but I had to do some re-organizing. There were no seats and tables anywhere in sight. I had to prepare to carry an open box with fries, burger, mocha shake, ketchup cups, and my luggage through the busy airport terminal without spilling or making my usual mess. Which reminded me, I had forgotten to get napkins. But it was too late to turn back now and I didn’t have any hands to spare.

Finally and without incident, I found my gate. It was over crowded with people and seats were at a premium, much less seats with a table. I got lucky and spotted a guy packing quickly to catch his flight, so I snagged his seat and table. It was nice to have a moment to relax and enjoy my food. That was until I figured out that my chosen ketchup bin had really been Bar-B-Q sauce. So I had French fries and two cups of Bar-B-Q sauce with my greasy burger. And no napkins!

 

“Victory belongs to the most persevering.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

 

[Success Hack: Perseverance is a marker for success. Success is never a smooth road. It is full of challenges and obstacles that provide us with the opportunity to give up at every turn. Practicing perseverance on the smaller things like lunch and making a flight will increase your confidence and ability to persevere through the important and truly challenging obstacles in life.]

 

[Happiness Hack: Positive Thinking helps build perseverance and helps make you happier. Believing you can get through the challenges you are facing to reach your goal creates hope. That hope increases your will power to keep moving forward and your level of happiness because you realize that no matter how tough the situation you are facing now, you can create a positive ending.]

 

Think positively and persevere until every option is exhausted and you will be happier and more successful.

 

Next week: Crowds and Flight Safety: Should You Be Worried If the Emergency Hatch Lever Cover Keeps Popping Off?

 

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About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

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