I still don’t know about you, but…
I’m still in it for the glamour
Friday morning, New York: The pilot’s voice came over the tannoy,
Weelll Ladies and Gentlemen, I bet you’re glad to be outa La Guardia this morning. There won’t be many more behind us because that snow looks like it’s settling in for the duration.
At 5.30am I had strode onto Park Avenue with swing of my briefcase and a flash of my overcoat’s red lining, and into the back of a waiting town car. I was in control. I was an expert traveler. I was seasoned. I was the kind of guy who goes to meetings in another country, and returns in time for dinner.
Twelve hours later I was over-nighting in Toronto without a change of underpants.
La Guardia closed due to snow and crosswinds.
Re-booked by Air Canada onto a flight to arrive in New York at 4.15pm Sunday — my flight to London will have left at 9pm on Saturday.
Friday night, Toronto: For six hours I sat at the desk in my room at The Toronto Airport Hilton — a lesser Hilton — on the phone. Initially I was afraid that if I sat on the bed I would fall asleep while on hold.
Air Canada found me an 11am to Montreal, to meet a 1.30pm to LaGuardia. The hotel arranged a car to meet me at LaGuardia at 3.30pm, back to the hotel by 4.30pm, allowing for snow, and another to take me to JFK at 5.30pm.
At Toronto the self-service check-in said I should have a paper ticket. The lady at the ticketing counter, said I may not get out of Montreal, because the weather was closing in and Montreal was about to close too. I explained my situation. She said,
Just hold on a minute, I’ll see if there is something I can do.
She switched on the computer at the next desk, and worked them both at once — one hand on each keyboard. For twenty minutes her fingers danced across the keys, she made little sounds of satisfaction and disappointment, her eyes flitting between the two screens. She looked up at me,
Do you have any bags to check.
I shook my head.
No. I’ve just got the briefcase I’m carrying.
She walked to the printer at the back of the ticketing counter, and returned with a long slip of cardboard. It looked suspiciously like a boarding pass. She put it inside my passport and handed it to me.
Your flight boards in 45 minutes from Gate 6.
I grabbed the boarding pass, and backed away, beginning to turn,
Suddenly a thought occurred to me,
Where am I going?
Direct to LaGuardia — you’ll land at 12.30pm.
I asked her name.
Kiva Angus — the angel of Toronto Airport.
After delays caused by a defective plane, by de-icing and a slow, skidding taxi ride through Queens, I walked back into the hotel at 3.30pm. Two hours to shower, pack and check out.
I was back. I was in control. I was an expert traveler. I was seasoned. I was the kind of guy who goes to meetings in another country.