The Traveling Steve's

Flight cancellation week in New York

After a nice weekend stay-cation at the Orlando Hyatt Convention Center, it was back to work for me.  IMG_1355This week I worked in Suffolk County, Long Island and had a 10am flight to Philadelphia, connecting to Islip.  DOS dropped me off at the airport Monday morning, and I checked in for my American Airlines flight fairly quickly.

I didn’t realize when I booked my flight, but I had a four hour layover in Philadelphia.  My flight from Orlando to Philadelphia departed on time, and I had seat 4C, which was the last row of First Class on this Airbus 321 jet.  While not a meal flight, at least we got warm mixed nuts, and a fruit and cheese platter on this 2 hour flight.  I took a brief nap, and we were soon in Philly.

As I had such a long layover, I decided to get a bit of exercise in, so walked over to the long international concourse ‘A’, and walked that back and forth 3 times, taking a few photos along the way. IMG_1428 IMG_1433 IMG_1432


I then visited the former US Airways Envoy Club, which is now an Admiral’s Club.  I always loved the ‘A’ Concourse Envoy Lounge – it’s huge and due to it’s location on ‘A’ concourse, usually the only people flying out of there are on international itineraries – in fact it used to be exclusive for international Business Class passengers or those with status flying internationally.

IMG_1451 (1) IMG_1441Now anyone with an Admiral’s Club membership can go (as well as the International Business Class passengers), but it still has the same exclusiveness feel to it, as it’s quite a walk from the ‘B’ and ‘C’ domestic concourses, and it’s too far to go with a short domestic connection.

IMG_1446 (2)

IMG_1452 (2) IMG_1455 (2)

After visiting the ‘A’ Admiral’s Club, I had a quick lunch at Chick Filet in the food court between B and C concourses. The food court here is huge, and offers plenty of seating in a clean environment, with monitors showing flight status of all the airlines.

After lunch, I took the complimentary bus shuttle over to the remote ‘F’ concourse, to wait on my 4:15pm flight.  IMG_1460 (1)As I still had half an hour or so, I stopped by the Admiral’s Club on the second floor of ‘F’ concourse.  Unfortunately as Murphy’s Law would have it, I got a text shortly after I walked in the Club that my flight to Islip was cancelled due to the weather. A quick look outside showed some pretty gloomy conditions quickly forming, and I was really surprised the ramp hadn’t closed yet due to lightning in the area (Orlando closes immediately when therein lightning for a minimum 15 minutes after it stops), but the ramp did soon close.

IMG_1459 (1)I went back to the Club Concierge, and he rebooked me for the 10:05am flight to Islip tomorrow, which would require me to stay overnight in Philadelphia.  I was fine with that, but I did have to alter my hotel and car arrangements for Long Island, as well as book a hotel for the night in Philadelphia.  I called the Hyatt in Long Island where I was supposed to stay that night, and was underwhelmed with their response to my ‘stranded passenger’ situation. Unfortunately most hotels now have a 24 hour cancelation and if your flight is canceled you’re still responsible for paying not only the original hotel stay, but also your ‘stranded city’ hotel stay as well.  While I understand they don’t want people canceling at the last minute, I do believe hotels should be more reasonable in situations such as this with flight cancelations, similar to the airlines cancellation/flight change waivers in inclement weather situations, but I digress.  The company will pay for the no-show charge, but it’s more the principal.

Anyway, as I couldn’t make it to Islip due to the weather,  I was fortunate to find one of the few hotels near the Philly Airport that had rooms – The Aloft Hotel.  I had stayed at this chain (by Starwood) once in Baltimore, and did not care for it at all.  I was just glad to get a room though, and as I couldn’t get my checked luggage back for the night I caught the ‘Sheraton Hotel/Four Seasons/Sheraton Suites and Aloft Hotel shuttle to the hotel.  (All four of these hotels are located in the same area so they share the same shuttle).  Here is a photo of me waiting with another man and a flight crew going to the same hotel. Interesting doo.IMG_1475 (1)

The concept of ‘Aloft’ Hotels is that its a trendy, yuppy type ‘loft’ apartment room for the younger generation; i.e. mid 20’s to 30 I would imagine.  To me, if feels more like a tiny dorm room with all of the cheap furnishings either built into the wall, attached to the bed or desk, and comes with a shower and toilet behind a sliding wall with mirror, dividing it from the tiny vanity.  IMG_1480 (2)

My room did have a King-sized bed which took up most of the room.  IMG_1478 (1)The only good thing is if you had to pee in the middle of the night it was a very short walk to the restroom!  My favorite part is the wall mounted TV with a sofa (basically a board with a bit of padding on it) which is located directly beneath the TV.  IMG_1479 (1)Like how are you supposed to sit on the ‘sofa’ and watch the TV; I guess there just isn’t enough space in the room to put it anywhere else, and the single chair at the desk has to be moved by the bed to see the TV.  But like a tiny room on a cruise ship, I guess they don’t expect you to stay in your room except to sleep.

IMG_1481 (1)

There is a trendy like bar downstairs in the lobby, with music blaring throughout the lobby.  I had one draft beer, which I thought was a bit pricey at $7.46.  IMG_1482 (1) IMG_1483 (1)The hotel itself wasn’t cheap either, especially for what little space you get – I got a AAA rate of $161, but the regular rate was close to $200.  Aloft is fine for a solo traveler for one night – just don’t plan on spending anytime in your dorm room – it literally feels like you’re in a cube.  You also only get two towels, and the soap/shampoo is wall mounted in a plastic dispenser.  For the young and not so fussy it’s fine.  For the seasoned business traveler it’s horrible!  But again, I was glad to get a place to stay for the night, so I can’t complain.  I just wouldn’t go out of my way to stay at this chain again.IMG_1476 (1)

The next morning I took the shuttle to the Philadelphia airport, after having a cup of complimentary coffee in the lobby.  Unfortunately breakfast was not included, although you could purchase different items in the lobby there.  I stopped by the Admiral’s Club briefly before my flight and had a couple breakfast yogurts before my flight to Islip.  The Dash-8 plane to Long Island was smooth and quick, but of course a bit noise.IMG_1509 (1) I was hoping to get a good photo of Manhattan flying by it, but didn’t see it in time as I was busy playing my game of bubbles. I did get a couple photos of Fire Island as we were descending into Islip McArthur Airport.

IMG_1519 IMG_1517 IMG_1516

Once landed,I took a couple quick picks before going to get my rental car and luggage.

IMG_1524 IMG_1529 (1) IMG_1532 (1)

This week I rented a Black Jeep Patriot from National Car Rental, and then went and retrieved my luggage.  Next I  drove to my job site for the week, which was only about 15 minutes away.  As I rent a different car each week, I always spend a bit of time familiarizing myself with the vehicle before driving off the lot, and set up my phone bluetooth connection first.  I then use my iPhone for navigation to where I’m going.IMG_1537 IMG_1542

My work week was good, and I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Long Island.  While the hotel was very nice and was in a spacious resort-like setting, I didn’t think it was up to Hyatt Hotel’s standards; it felt highly impersonal.  The 10 floor hotel had a huge convention area space and parking lot, and was adjacent to a Country Club and golf course. IMG_1559 There were several huge limos parked in the far back parking lot, and once inside I saw a limo company office, so I’m assuming the hotel is the site of many luxurious weddings.

I guess I’m spoiled with Hyatt Hotel’s service at other hotels, but as I was checking in there were two different customers complaining to the two front desk agents about something.  One of them demanded the manager, only to be told he was off today, and then they asked for the next person in charge!   When it was finally my turn to get checked in, the 20-something man took my credit card and license and told me to sign here; no small talk or welcoming me as a Hyatt Diamond member; highly impersonal for anyone, much less the top level Hyatt guest.  I got a room on the 8th floor, which was average ok, but didn’t think it was anything special. IMG_1566 (1) IMG_1568 (1)I would have preferred a balcony room instead of a room overlooking the large air conditioning units.  There was a Concierge Floor on the 9th floor, but wasn’t put there or on the 10th (top) floor as well.

Unlike other Hyatt Regency’s, there was not a robe or any of the other normal amenities in the room, nor even a card indicating other items available should you need them; i.e. toothpaste, mouthwash, comb, deodorant etc.  There was a note that for complimentary ice; call Room Service (I assume the tip wouldn’t be complimentary).  My first impressions just from the brief journey from the lobby to my room was not very impressive; it didn’t have a ‘clean’ feel to it from the smudged mirrors in the elevators, to lack of staff in the lobby (no bellman/doorman on duty), trash in front of the hotel entrance,IMG_1556 (1) no water in the lobby self-service water  jug,IMG_1553to this dirty self-service bell cart that was left in the hall by the elevator with a cup laying on the floor as I got off on the 8th floor – it did not feel like a well run hotel with attention to detail.  (The cup was still there the next day, although the cart had been removed!)


I went back down to the front desk after realizing I didn’t get my complimentary breakfast coupons, or Concierge Lounge access key, and was waited on by the young man.  He looked at my reservation, and looked surprised that I was a Diamond Member (Oh, you’re a Diamond Member, which he should have noticed on my reservation) and said to just charge breakfast to my room and they would take the charge off (which of course didn’t happen and I had to dispute the charge at checkout).  They also don’t have a Concierge Lounge, even though they have a Concierge Floor.  As a Diamond Member you are normally asked at checkin what amenity gift you would like; anything from a bottle of wine or  beer/soft drinks and hor dourves platter delivered to your room, or 1,000 points instead.  I didn’t get either; really not up to Hyatt standards which are usually excellent.  Diamond members also get complimentary high speed internet, but only standard was available unless you paid $9.99 to ‘upgrade’.  I called the front desk to ask about this, and the desk clerk didn’t know what I was talking about with this published Diamond benefit; saying ‘I’m sorry, I really don’t know.’   (Not I’ll find out for you and call you back . . .)

Otherwise, the Hyatt had nice facilities; just not the service.  They had an indoor pool and nice fitness center; neither one of which I had time to use.

IMG_1564 (1) IMG_1563 (1)

There was a little-league or similar baseball group that overtook the hotel while I was there with the players and their families which occupied much of the restaurant/lounge space, although the lobby lounge/restaurant was very good. IMG_1584 (1) IMG_1581 (1) I ended up checking out a day early and planned to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Long Island, which was right at Islip Airport for my 7:05am flight back to Orlando (via Philadelphia), but Murphy’s Law struck again and changed my plans.

As I drove to the Hilton Garden Inn, DOS called me and told me my flight for the morning was already canceled!  I knew there was a 6:30pm flight to Philadelphia and I could just about make it, but it too was canceled!  When I got to the hotel and explained the situation, the wonderful desk clerk Victoria, said she would gladly cancel the reservation if I needed to (unlike the Hyatt Long Island), which was very nice of her as they have a 24 hour cancelation penalty as well.  She gave me a complimentary bottled water, and access to the business center so I could check my travel options online – now that is EXCELLENT customer service.  I have Lifetime Diamond status with Hilton, but didn’t mention that – she was genuinely trying to help a stranded passenger.

After a lengthy call to American, where there were no options out of Islip until Saturday, I asked if I could fly out of Laguardia in the morning, and the agent changed my flight to then.  It really wasn’t my first choice, as I would have to drive to New York City’s Laguardia Airport in rush-hour traffic, but that was the only way I could get back to Orlando, and still make my Friday evening flight with DOS up to Roanoke for the weekend.  I then had to call National Car Rental to change my reservation to return the car to Laguardia instead of Islip, and then had to find a hotel for the night near Laguardia Airport.  I went back to the front desk at the Hilton Garden Inn and thanked Victoria, and told her my plans and she was kind enough to cancel my reservation.

My drive to Laguardia  at 6:45pm really wasn’t that bad after all as it was a reverse commute going to New York City with people leaving the city.  I got there in about an hour, and faced the huge bottle-neck at Laguardia Airport itself – what an absolute mess!  Bumper-to-bumper stop-and-go traffic, with what seemed like thousands of yellow taxi cabs continuously blowing their horns!  The signage was terrible, but I finally found the rental car return, which is just off the airport property across the bridge to the freeway.  I was surprised there wasn’t a drop charge to drop the rental car off at a different NYC airport.

I then took the rental car shuttle bus to the airport, and caught the Holiday Inn shuttle bus to their hotel for the night. IMG_1596 (3) Almost all of the Laguardia area hotels were sold out for the night when I looked, so I was really glad to get  a hotel room there, even though it was an older property.IMG_1597 (2)IMG_1619

I must say the staff at the Holiday Inn Laguardia was so friendly and welcoming, and I have no status with Holiday Inn.  (I keep comparing that to the Hyatt Long Island, but first impressions really do set the tone for your stay.)  Now that I had the rental car returned, and my new flight time to Orlando wasn’t until 9:50am, I could relax a bit.  I had dinner and a couple brewskis in the restaurant (lounge area section) and was impressed with the quality of the food, and very reasonable prices as well.  I took my earphones and iPad to dinner, and Face-timed DOS over dinner.IMG_1608 (2) IMG_8934 (1)

I was soon off to bed for my flight in the morning.  What a week – 2 canceled flights, 3 different hotels, and one weary traveler!  Tomorrow can only get better!  Goodnight!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *