6:00 a.m. -- Check in at Kansas City United Airlines counter. Adam, Erika, Karl, and Sarah are advised by front check-in advisor that something is wrong with how the computer shows their respective itinerary. Quote from Erika's representative, "this is the most messed up itinerary I have ever seen." (Foreshadowing?)
6:45 a.m. -- We all made it through security after a few friendly pat downs. In celebration, Karl breaks out a zip lock container full of homemade lemon bars and we have a community breakfast at Gate 14.
8:06 a.m. to 11:55 EST -- Airplane from KC to Washington D.C. Dulles
12:00 p.m. -- Discovery that our DC to JFK flight is delayed until 4:00 p.m., possibly cancelled.
12:00 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. -- THE CIRCUS BEGINS: Adam gets in line after a customer service representative from United Airlines says, "if you have any issues, please go to the customer service line at gate C15." Adam waits...and waits... In the interim, Adam works through Rotary Travel, who was extremely helpful, to find that there are alternate options given that our DC to JFK delay may cause us to miss our Helsinki flight. Adam actually makes it to the front of the line and all chaos ensues. United Airlines merged with Continental, so they are on day 12 of a new computer system -- and according to the representative -- no one has been trained on how to use it!
Some pleasantries are exchanged, then Adam finally has a representative who appears to start helping. Goal was to get us on a direct flight to Copenhagen, then to Helsinki.
Karl, Erika, Sarah and I had been waiting patiently -- the customer service representative says that we need to go to a different customer service line!!! We are in the "EXPRESS" line and the international line was at Gate D20. Seriously? You could have told us that an hour ago.
1:40 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. -- LEARNING THE COMPUTER SYSTEM, AND YES, I AM KEITH URBAN'S COUSIN: While Adam works through the circus in the "express line," we take a long walk down to Gate D20.
Enter Monica, the hard charging multilingual customer service representative, who was not only very impressive -- but she stayed late after her shift was over to help us. Monica spent an hour on the phone trying to get Fin Air to allow United to have "control" over bookings so they could "push" our ticket and issue it at the counter. Monica then handed off part of the process to 2 other representatives, and soon we had the entire United Airlines staff of 5 working on our tickets. (We promised Monica that we would buy her a shot for her help). A separate rep works on baggage, and she asks if I am related to Keith Urban. Of course I am, I will be the cousin or relative of any famous actor, singer or songwriter if that means baggage gets from point A to point B.
Finally, after nearly 3 hours, Monica says -- "I have you booked on the Copenhagen to Helsinki flight and a verbal from Fin Air to release your tickets for issuance. We were all delirious at this point, hungry, and but excited that we might actually step foot on an airplane. Mind you, we have been standing long enough that WE ACTUALLY SAW THE SHIFT CHANGE!!
Monica leaves.....enter Dublin..who will go unnamed to protect identity. Dublin literally has her ear to the phone for 45 minutes, with what appears to be no one on the other end. At approximately, 4:00 p.m., the words come out of her mouth "I can't do it. I can't get control to issue you the Fin Air ticket to Copenhagen." If eyes were daggers, Dublin may you RIP.
Dublin then says, "I have found a delta flight, which should allow you to make your original JFK to Helsinki flight."
4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. -- After having the delta tickets issued, baggages re-routed to JFK - we make the mad dash for the Delta terminal. The Delta terminal was like a large marble palace compared to the musty, humid, and cramped United Terminal. Jogging, walking fast, and praying that the plane has not left.......ahhh.....the plane has not left. The Delta rep was friendly. We even had a few minutes to spare, so we all grabbed food and threw it down. It was indeed our best meal of the day, in fact, other than the lemon bars, it was our only meal of the day.
5:00 p.m. to 6:10 p.m. -- On the flight from DC to JFK, we met Ricky and Shaniqua, who deserve an entire post dedicated to themselves, but I am running out of time. Ricky was our energetic and spunky flight attendant, who indeed, exemplified customer service. Ricky has been a flight attendant for nearly 25 years. Shaniqua was a passenger, who was extremely friendly, and from the great "Hotlanta." (Atlanta). Ricky moved all of us to the front because he knew that we were going to be sprinting for our lives. Ricky gave me a wink, turned on some Damien Rice music, and told all of us to get out and start running for Terminal 1 -- where he thought the Fin Air ticket counter was located.
6:10 p.m. Like the scene out of home alone, the Skandi-Kans sprinted for Terminal 1 (basically across the JFK expressway). Our hearts racing, we made it to Terminal 1. We are all running around trying to find the Fin Air counter. Nowhere. Where the hell is it? We walk up to the Lufthansa counter and are informed, "Fin Air is in Terminal 8. You won't make it."
6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. We get on the Airtran to Terminal 8 to find no one at the Fin Air counter. Out of nowhere, a lady walks to the counter who appears to be the Fin Air representative and starts helping us. We indeed missed our flight, but the best part, indeed the night cap:
"WE HAD YOU BOOKED ON THE COPENHAGEN FLIGHT THAT DEPARTED AT 6:15 p.m. IN DC..."
8:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. After another hour with United Airlines getting vouchers and being advised that our baggage could be anywhere from DC to Vaasa, we finally make it to the shuttle for our hotel. As we wait for the shuttle, I pull out my phone and play the Jay Z and Alicia Keyes song "Empire State of Mind." Indeed, we were in an Empire State of Mind.
Ending the night, we all stepped in to the hotel bar for dinner, and looked at each other. Tired, our minds had stopped working, and we were ready for bed.
(Believe it or not, this is the short version).
Happy St. Patrick's Day New York!
Location:Doubletree JFK Airport