A week ago Tuesday, I went to the Albany International Airport, checked my suitcase (for which I had to pay $25 so it was allowed to go to the same place I went), went through security, waved good-bye to my family one more time, and went to my gate to await boarding.
One hour later I sat in a taxi van with a couple that was also supposed to fly to Newark. The plane had been "overbooked" and I was volunteered to go to Newark by taxi, which supposedly was waiting outside to load me in and take me away. Never mind that I had booked my flight in January, reserved my seat then, and made it to the airport in plenty of time. I was identified as a Single Traveler going to Portland, OR with a Significant Lay-Over in Newark, and called to the podium. After much hesitation, feeling the eyes of 50 travelers stabbing me in the back because they wanted to get the heck on this plane and I was the only one holding them up, I agreed to accept the $350 voucher to be used another time.
Outside, there was no taxi. The dispatcher was completely taken by surprise. I may have heard him yell into the radio, "I don't care if you are my wife, I am telling you to come over here and drive these people to Newark!" She showed up, we loaded ourselves into the van, and drove off....to the nearest gas station, where she, the driver, asked us if we could give her some money to help pay for the gas. I very politely pointed out that she was just given a $500 voucher from the airline, and that I had only lunch money with me. She grumbled that she had to go to the ATM.
While the driver took care of business, us passengers introduced ourselves. There was a lady in the front seat who needed to be taken to her doctor's appointment...turns out that the cab was a van conracted by a company that takes disbabled folks to the doctor. We were going to Newark by medivan. Our medivan had very loud and rattly shocks, exactly underneath me.
After we dropped off the poor lady who in turn had to endure a detour to the airport to pick us up, we finally were on our way to Newark. Turns out the driver had never even been to Newark before! I texted my son to look up directions. Newark is 165 miles south of Albany, in New Jersey, across the river from Manhattan. My fellow travellers looked up google directions on their smart phones. The driver did have a gps, but refused to let it talk to her because "it always says the wrong thing". So while she was driving, in between compulsively polishing her sunglasses which she had on over her prescription glasses, she kept trying to read the gps. Thank goodness, I thought, that the New York State Thruway is a pretty straight road.
Also, she kept popping all of her knuckles. She stated that this helps her arthritis. I offered some ibuprofen. She remembered she had some, and after she ate her sandwhich while polishing her glasses and reading her gps, she took some ibuprofen, which reminded her that she had to take some caffeine pills. She had been yawning quite a bit and apologized for it. She said that taxi companies don't like it when their drivers drink too much coffee because that causes too many bathroom breaks and a loss of revenue.
At one point we all needed a bathroom break, taxi cab loss of revenue be darned. During this break we had to wait for the driver to finish her cigarette, and I got a glimpse as to why the taxi cab company looked down on bathroom breaks.
As we went on down the thruway, my fellow traveler had her iphone in her purse and stealthily looked up directions. Her husband did the same thing in the passenger seat. It's not difficult to get to Newark at all, if you know where to turn off, and by the second turn after the toll booths we were all pretty much shouting directions at our driver, at which point she finally conceded, gave up reading the gps and turned it off.
We made it to the right terminal, on time, and we all jumped out of that van the same second it had come to a halt.
I found some dinner, and made my plane just fine.
We only sat on the runway for an hour before take-off.