Cafe Witness

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Delta Blues

Update: 6:00 PM: The folks at IDC came through and worked out a new arrangement to get me to Israel on Sunday evening. Two days late, but better than nothing at all. And, taking the place of Delta in this equation? JetBlue. Why do they consistently save the day (when they're not idling on a tarmac)?

Update: 4:00 PM: El Al airlines called. They have a Saturday night flight I can take from JFK, which will get me to Israel about 24 hours before my presentation. So far, so good. All I need now is to work something out with Delta to get me to NYC tomorrow...

... except I didn't book the Delta flight, so I can't make any negotations. That's up the the folks at IDC who've programmed the Blogference. And, on top of it, my phone just died. Craziness...

Update: 10:30 AM: The folks running Blogference from Israel are in touch with their people in NYC to see what can be done. They've been working on it since at least 7 AM. No word yet.

Originally posted at 1 AM Friday, June 29:

I'm supposed to be boarding a flight from NYC to Israel right now. Instead, I'm blogging from my apartment in Pittsburgh. All because of Delta's response to some rain in New York.

I'm scheduled to speak at the Blogference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. The folks running the conference arranged for me to fly out of Pittsburgh at 6:20 Thursday evening and connect with an El Al flight at 1 AM Friday (aka right now).

When I arrive at the Pittsburgh International Airport -- after a 2 hour bus ride, due to rain + construction-induced traffic snarls -- I'm told my flight has been cancelled.

The Delta attendant puts me on the "next available flight" -- which is Friday morning at 7 AM.

I explain that I need to be in New York before 1 AM Friday, not at 7 AM. She says there's nothing they can do. I walk away from the counter and starts considering my options.

Then I notice the new boarding pass she's given me is actually for SATURDAY at 7 AM, not Friday.

I return to the counter and point out the issue. The clerk heads to the back office, confers with an unseen supervisor, and returns with a new "next available flight" for me -- Friday at 1:30 PM, with a stopover in Atlanta. All told, I'll now reach New York at 8 PM Friday -- a full 19 hours after my connecting flight departs.

Meanwhile, it's 1 AM in Israel, so everyone who could work on the issue is asleep.

I find the number for the travel agency that booked the Delta flight. (They're in New York.) The agent tells me Delta's not the only carrier canceling flights because of the storm -- Continental and others are, too. The earliest she can get me to NYC on any flight is 8 PM Friday.

I try calling Kfir Pravda, one of the event's promoters in Israel, only to find out my Verizon plan doesn't include international calls.

I try connecting to the internet, but the Pittsburgh airport's free wireless is highly unreliable and achingly slow. No dice.

I call Erik Schark (aka Rich on Something to Be Desired) and ask him to find the phone number for El Al Airlines. He does.

I obtain an international calling card number from my dad (suddenly feeling like I'm 16 again) and call El Al. Their service center is closed (predictably), but they have a 24-hour emergency service line. I'm transferred there.

I tell the operator I need to know if there's a flight leaving for Israel after 8 PM on Friday. She explains to me that El Al doesn't fly at all on Saturdays (it's the sabbath), and since 8 PM Friday in NYC is actually Saturday in Tel Aviv time, there's no connecting flight available. The earliest available flight leaves NYC on Sunday at 8 PM.

Given the 10 hour flight, plus the 7 hour time difference, that means I'd be landing in Israel at approximately 11 AM Monday (Tel Aviv time) -- which is funny, because I'm scheduled to give the first of two talks at noon. That means I have exactly 1 hour to get from the airport to the conference.

Suddenly, the 7-day Blogference I'm supposed to be involved in, which I've already had to scale back due to pre-arranged obligations in America, would be boiled down to a 22-hour period. And I'd be traveling over 24 hours, total, to be there -- longer than I'd actually be in Israel.

Kfir has now awoken in Israel and is working on the problem. We shall see what magic the Blogference planners have up their sleeves....

To be continued...

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  • oh mannnn! that's super awful!
    i hope they figure something out.....good luck!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:22 AM  

  • wow. Pathetic.

    Good luck with that. :/

    By Blogger Bill Cammack, at 6:53 AM  

  • Could you try speaking by Ichat instead? BlogTV?

    By Blogger wsh1266, at 9:50 AM  

  • What about trains to NY? Toronto?

    By Blogger wsh1266, at 9:51 AM  

  • Wow, Godspeed. I recently spent 30 hours in the airport because Delta canceled flights due to rain. I eventually got on a US Airways flight to Boston Logan, with a connecting to LGA.

    Keep us updated via Twitter.

    By Blogger John R. Carman, at 3:24 PM  

  • Justin,
    Wow I know why you looked so washed out at the conference...
    I posted your pic at

    By Anonymous Moshe Maeir, at 8:36 AM  

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