A Tale of Two Flights

Baila’s Forced “Vacation” In Philly, En Route to Israel

Philly AirportWhen our dedicated COO, Baila Groner, decided to take advantage of cheap tickets to Israel, we were all happy that she and her husband Zalman would finally get to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Their plan was to leave Tuesday afternoon from LaGuardia to Philadelphia, and connect to an international flight scheduled to take off from Philly at 9:10 PM. They were scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday afternoon, enabling them to light the menorah on the first night of Chanukah in Jerusalem.

Tuesday was a stormy day, and, worried that the weather might affect their travel plans, the Groners arrived to La Guardia early, and asked whether they might be able to board an earlier flight to Philadelphia to prevent problems later. They were disappointed to be told that all the earlier flights were fully booked, and that there was no availability to fly standby. Imagine their chagrin when they noticed that most of the flights to Philly were taking off half-full, because many passengers missed those flights!

When the Groners finally boarded their plane as scheduled, it looked like everything would go smoothly, and they would be able to catch their connecting flight on time. After waiting on the runway for longer than usual, the passengers were informed that there were some engine problems which would be fixed momentarily, and that they’d soon be on their way (see Famous Last Words, Vol.1).

The engine problems were resolved pretty quickly, but at that point, the news from the Philadelphia airport was not so good. The Philly airport was temporarily closed due to the winds and rain, and their aircraft could not take off from LaGuardia without an assurance that it would be able to land in Philadelphia.

delay at airportThere were 18 people on board that airplane whose end destination was Tel Aviv. In addition, many others were headed to different connecting flights. The passengers were all worried about missing their next flights, but the flight attendants assured them that the airline would not allow that to happen. (see Famous Last Words, Vol. 2) They were told that if they arrived late to Philadelphia, the flight to Israel would wait for them.

An hour later, the aircraft finally departed LaGuardia, with an expected arrival time of 9:20 PM – ten minutes past the scheduled take-off time for the flight from Philly to Tel Aviv.

hilton-philadelphia-airport-ext-587Arriving in Philadelphia, the travelers bound to Israel were informed that their connecting flight had just left 10 minutes ago, and that they would be put on the next flight to Israel, which was the following day at 9:10 PM! Since the delay and missed connection were due to engine failure (rather than just the weather) the airline would put the travelers up at a hotel for the night. If the delay had been due only to the storm, the airline would have been under no obligation to provide a hotel room.

(European airlines work differently, as I learned myself, flying back from Israel through London in the midst of Hurricane Sandy last year. The EU requires airlines to provide stranded travelers with both food and sleeping arrangements. I was compensated for 2 nights at a hotel, and provided with food vouchers for 3 meals a day.)

Here’s what Baila and her husband learned from their harrowing experience:

  1. Try to take direct flights whenever possible, especially if you need to get to your destination at a specific time or even a particular day. You might want to consider driving to a hub city in order to take a flight, rather than taking two flights. For example, the Groners could have taken a 2 ½ hour drive to Philadelphia and then boarded a direct flight from there.
  2. If you are taking a connecting flight, make sure to allow a reasonable amount of time between flights. The connection time between the Groners’ flights was only 1 hour 40 minutes. There were earlier flights available, but the Groners thought it would be better to book a later flight and miss less work on the day of travel. GoInspire recommends that you try to schedule 3 hours between connecting flights.
  3. bagels

  4. No matter if you are flying direct, or taking a connecting flight, make sure to pack extra food in case of an emergency. Assuming they’d have their supper on the plane, there was no need for Baila to pack the pastrami sandwiches that she brought along in her carry-on, but boy was she glad she did, that night in Philadelphia! They were also able to buy kosher food in Philadelphia the next day, but you may not always be able to obtain food that easily wherever you are stranded.

    When I got stuck in London last year, I was well-prepared with extra bagels, rolls, danishes, and cookies, and so I wasn’t all that worried about whether I’d find kosher food in London Heathrow Airport. Luckily, I did, but was happy to be prepared in any case…

  5. Some airlines are infamous for delayed flights, and you might want to avoid them altogether. To check average on-time data for an individual airline from a particular airport, click here.
  6. Baila and Zalman arrived in Israel Thursday afternoon, one day behind schedule, and they enjoyed their trip despite the extra day it took to get there. Their two children who are studying in Israel were glad to have a week and a half to spend with their parents, and sorry to see them leave this week. We at the GoInspire NY office are happy that Baila’s back, to keep the office running on track with her cheerful smile!

    Take advantage of our travel expertise! Click here to book flights for your next trip to Israel… With our 24-hour a day/6-day-a- week emergency number, you can always reach a GoInspire team member who will be glad to lend a helping hand!

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