The Traveling Steve's

Trying to get home from Newark

It’s Thursday afternoon at 1:35pm, and I’m sitting in Newark Airport, waiting for my delayed Jet Blue #1727 flight back to Orlando.   It’s supposed to depart at 1:39pm, but it’s now showing a string of delay texts on my phones; the latest showing 4:35pm.  I asked the customer service rep when checking in what the issue was, as it was many other flights as well, and she said ‘weather’.  While it’s freezing cold here (20 degrees F!), it is also very windy, and EWR Airport only has one airport operating as a result of the wind.  The Air Canada flight at the gate next to me was just canceled, so I’m hoping I don’t get delayed until 4:30 and later find my flight canceled.

This week I’ve been working in Westfield New Jersey, which is only about 25 minutes from Newark Airport.  I flew up on Monday morning, nonstop on Jet Blue from Orlando to Newark.  

While I usually take American Airlines, I have already re-qualified for Executive Platinum status (actually back in August) so I flew Jet Blue for the nonstop convenience.  I like Jet Blue although I don’t fly them that often, as they offer free Direct TV, and now even internet!  While they don’t have First Class, the offer ‘Even more space’ for $40 each way on my flight, which is well worth it for the generous extra leg room – even more legroom than some of the old USAIR (now American) Airbus 321’s, although the seating is still 3 X 3, unlike First at 2 X 2.

I rented a Chevy Malibu from National Car Rental, noting a small dent on the rear luggage door (right above the rear light), taking both a photo, and having the agent note that on my rental agreement.

I stayed at the Homewood Suites in Crandon, NJ, which while not in a great area (right by the entrance to the Garden State parkway and now restaurants in walking distance), the hotel was very nice once inside.  I had a comfortable and quiet one bedroom suite on the third (top) floor.

 I haven’t stayed in Homewood Suite’s for quite a while, but they offer a light dinner (more like a snack) with complimentary beer and wine Monday thru Thursday.  Their breakfast was decent and offered hot and cold items, and fresh berries.

I went out one evening to a Polynesian style restaurant, which actually served Chinese food with a Tiki flair!  A co-worker suggested the restaurant, or I would most likely never have gone.  It was in a strip mall, that was only a mile from the hotel, but in a so-neighborhood, next door to a liquor store.  The nondescript entrance gave no hint of what was inside – a Hawaiian/Polynesian decoration setup, with Tiki Hut booths, colored lights, colorful wall decor – and even had some photos of Easter Island Maori statues on the menu!  While I don’t normally have a mixed drink with dinner, they were noted for their fancy con concoctions, so I had a Mai Tai, which was quite tasty.  For dinner I had the Volcano Steak, which was a filet served over vegetables (should have asked for the sauce on the side), and came topped with a ‘mini-volcano’ which spewed out smoke created by the flames of the lit rum inside!  The mini-volcano was actually a dried out lemon shell that had been carved out and filled with run, and once lit make quite an interesting topping to my steak.

The rest of the week was uneventful (and cold!) so I just drove the 15 minutes to work each day, and then back to the hotel.  Last night I worked late, so made a run for the border; i.e. Taco Bell on the way home and brought the food back to my hotel.  I did notice and admire lots of Christmas lights on homes as I drove the side roads back to Taco Bell and my hotel.  I couldn’t stop to take photos due to the traffic, but some where quite grand displays, while some were the old traditional type lights, with candles in the windows like we had when I was growing up.

Now I’m still in Newark, keeping my fingers crossed, hoping to get home this evening. While I’ve been waiting here another Air Canada plane came in, so that’s a good sign the planes are landing.  

I’ll be home for the weekend (DOS comes tomorrow for the weekend), and then have one more flight on Monday to Texas for the week.  I was supposed to be home-office next week, but a last minute project was confirmed, so I’ll be heading to San Antonio on Monday thru Thursday.  Friday is one of two Christmas holiday (other on Monday Dec 26th), so I’m flying back Thursday morning, to arrive back late afternoon.  

On a happy note, Mom will be coming home for Christmas! She’s actually being discharged next Thursday from the rehab center where she has been for the last month due to a fractured hip.  She called me herself to tell me the good news – Mom is so ready to be home!  When I was up to Virginia for Thanksgiving I put a few decoration up in their new home, as I know Dad probably would not have time to do so.

So signing off for now – Christmas is in 10 days!  Have you done your Christmas shopping yet?  Me, not so much, although we did get most of our Christmas cards sent out last weekend.  It’s been a busy Christmas season, as well as year.  

Although as I sit here in Newark Airport, you would never know it’s Christmas – there are no decorations up at all in the Public or gate areas, except for an individual airline’s poinsettias such as Air Canada’s or some simple decorations at Dunkin Donuts and a few dangling icicles at Southwest Airlines ticket counter.

The lobby at Newark terminal A, and near the checkpoint areas are not decorated at all, such as all the other airports I have been to this season.

Meanwhile back here at the gate ‘A’ terminal gates, there is nothing much to remind you it’s Christmas. From the photo above it looks like the airport has installed white icicle lights, but those are just the regular ceiling lights that help to keep the otherwise dull gate area a bit brighter.  I’ve been wanting to do a post on airport Christmas decorations – I’ll have to file this one away for Newark Airport – nada!  Bah Humbug!   Celebrate the season!

Meanwhile, a flight update – now scheduled to leave at 4:18pm.  I still have an hour to go – I’ll keep my fingers crossed.  Flight delays are for the birds – in this case here in Newark Airport – quite literally, as I watch the pigeons walk across the floor!  

Merry Christmas!

P.S. UPDATE!  It’s now 11pm and I’m safely back home in Orlando.  I actually got back around 8:15pm, after taking a cab from the airport since DOS isn’t coming until tomorrow.  I had dinner, did the laundry etc, and am checking emails before going to bed. I must say KUDOS to JET BLUE!  While my flight home was three hours late, it was totally not their fault due to the windy conditions in Newark shutting down a couple of the runways.  Never-the-less, the Flight Attendant offered me a brewski, and later served me another (without asking), all on the house, even though I handed him my credit card.  And then when I got home, I had an email from Jet Blue giving me (and every passenger on that flight) a $75 credit for a future Jet Blue flight!  That was absolutely amazing, and the epitome of excellent customer service, something the legacy carriers (i.e. American, United, and Delta) could learn a lesson from.  This is how it used to be; the customer was respected, and if inconvenienced, even if it wasn’t the airline’s fault, they appreciated the customer’s time, and made a small but noticeable gesture (free drink) and apology, and in this case even a voucher for a discount on a future flight.  It’s definitely a win-win for the customer and Jet Blue, and I applaud their professionalism and customer service attitude.  Thank you Jet Blue!  And welcome home!



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